It's no secret that the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets don't like each other very much. Between 1977 and 2012, the Knicks and the Nets—who were then called the New Jersey Nets—were rivals because of their geographical locations. But when the Nets moved to BK prior to the 2012-13 NBA season and started trying to infringe upon the Knicks' territory even more by asking Brooklynites to become Nets fans, the rivalry got ratcheted up 10,000 notches. And since then, the rivalry has grown with Nets guard Paul Pierce saying, "I think it's time for the Nets to start running this city," prior to the current season. It's gotten serious, to say the least.
But which team is actually winning the "Battle of the Boroughs" right now? At this very moment, you could argue that it's actually the Nets, despite their short history in New York City. They're on the verge of making their second straight playoff appearance and will likely be in the thick of things once the postseason starts. The Knicks, on the other hand, were mathematically eliminated from the 2014 NBA Playoffs over the weekend and will have to spend their summer trying to talk Carmelo Anthony into coming back next season. So it's hard for us to sit here and say that the Knicks are winning anything right now, including the battle for the Big Apple.
The fight for NYC supremacy goes beyond just wins and losses, though. When you think about the Knicks/Nets rivalry, you have to look at what goes on on the court as well as what happens off of it in order to declare a true winner. So as the NBA prepares to finish off their regular season this week—and the Knicks and Nets get ready to wrap up their second season as crosstown rivals with a game against one another on Tuesday night—we decided to take a closer look at which of the two teams is running New York City right now. The numbers don't lie…
REGULAR SEASON RECORDS SINCE 2012
Knicks: 88-73 (54-28 in 2012-13 and 34-45 in 2013-14)
Nets: 92-69 (49-33 in 2012-13 and 43-36 in 2013-14)
Advantage: NETS. The Knicks actually finished with a better record than the Nets last season. So you could argue that, at one point, they had the best all-around team over the course of the last two seasons. But the Nets win this category simply because they've been over .500 in both of their seasons in New York City. Bottom line, they've been the more consistent squad.
Knicks: 1 (eliminated in the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NBA Playoffs)
Nets: 2 (eliminated in the first round during the 2013 NBA Playoffs, 2014 playoff results TBD)
Advantage: NETS. Regardless of how well the Nets do in the postseason this year—if the playoffs started today, they would match up against the Chicago Bulls in the first round—they are a perfect 2-0 when it comes to making the playoffs during their time in NYC.
Knicks: 4-3 (2-2 in 2012-13 and 2-1 in 2013-14)
Nets: 3-4 (2-2 in 2012-13 and 1-2 in 2013-14)
Advantage: KNICKS. The Nets will have a chance to even up their series with the Knicks tomorrow night. But as of right now, the Knicks have gotten the better of the Nets since 2012. And in their most recent game back on April 2, the Knicks destroyed the Nets 110-81.
Knicks: 1 (Mike Woodson)
Nets: 3 (Avery Johnson, P.J. Carlesimo, and Jason Kidd)
Advantage: NETS. It took some time, but it feels like the Nets finally landed on their head coach of the future with Kidd. Meanwhile, Woodson is basically a lame duck coach right now, as the Knicks are expected to fire him in the offseason. Neither the Knicks nor the Nets have blown us away with their head coaching candidates in recent years. But the Nets are definitely on the right path when it comes to that category right now, and the Knicks, well, aren't.
MAJOR PLAYER TRANSACTIONS
Knicks: 7 (traded for Marcus Camby in July 2012, traded for Raymond Felton in July 2012, signed J.R. Smith in July 2012, signed Jason Kidd in July 2012, traded for Andrea Bargnani in July 2013, resigned J.R. Smith in July 2013, signed Metta World Peace in July 2013)
Nets: 7 (traded for Joe Johnson in July 2012, resigned Brook Lopez in July 2012, resigned Gerald Wallace in July 2012, resigned Deron Williams in July 2012, signed Andray Blatche in September 2012, traded for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry in July 2013, signed Andrei Kirilenko in July 2013)
Advantage: NETS. Both teams are in terrible shape when it comes to their futures because of some of the transactions listed above. For instance, the Knicks have very little cap flexibility and a serious lack of draft picks thanks to the Smith signing and the Bargnani trade. And the Nets essentially mortgaged the future of their franchise to get the Garnett/Pierce trade done. But at the very least, the Nets' transactions have landed them in the playoffs for two straight years, which is something the Knicks cannot say.
Knicks: $161,177,522 ($72,989,028 in 2012-13 and $88,188,494 in 2013-14)
Nets: $187,076,129 ($84,486,162 in 2012-13 and $102,589,967 in 2013-14)
Advantage: Draw. The Nets and Knicks are No. 1 and No. 2 overall in total spending this season. So they should, at least theoretically, be the No. 1 and No. 2 teams overall in the league. But they're not. So we're not going to declare a "winner" here.
AVERAGE REGULAR SEASON ATTENDANCE
Knicks: 19,423 (19,033 in 2012-13 and 19,812 in 2013-14)
Nets: 17,213 (17,187 in 2012-13 and 17,239 in 2013-14)
Advantage: KNICKS. Even though they haven't been very good this season, the Knicks' average attendance at Madison Square Garden is up this year. The Nets' average attendance at the Barclays Center is also up, but the Knicks still have them beat handily.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
To be honest, the "Battle of the Boroughs" hasn't really lived up to its hype yet. Sure, there have been some closely-contested regular season games between the Knicks and Nets. And all of the preseason hoopla surrounding Paul Pierce's "It's time for the Nets to start running this city" declaration was fun. But this rivalry's best days are still ahead of it. For now, though, we have to give the edge to the Nets. They've got the better overall record since 2012, more playoff appearances, and a chance of making some real noise in the postseason this year. And the Knicks have a long offseason ahead of them. So while the Nets haven't won the war with the Knicks just yet, they have won the initial battle.