I am too young to have watched basketball in the 1990’s. I wasn’t born when Michael Jordan won his first of six championships, and honestly the only memory I have of him is in the 2003 All-Star game. I missed the Bulls dynasty, missed the Knicks-Bulls rivalry games, the Knicks championship runs, the Reggie Miller game, and the battles with the Heat. I missed it all.
The NBA has changed a lot since then and most say it has become softer. Superstars don’t hate each other; instead they film commercials and take pictures of Instagram together. Kevin Durant and LeBron James train together and are friends off the court. Team USA wasn’t like the Dream Team; no intense competition in practices. It seemed like it was just 12 best friends who happen to be the best basketball players in the world playing on the same team dominating everyone in their path. Some people just won’t hate each other, but there will always be friction with the best teams and cities with decades of rivalry.
I believe when the regular season is done and we head into playoff time, the four teams that will be the most dangerous will be: The Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, and Chicago Bulls. These four franchises hate each other. They are the four most popular cities on the East Coast and all have superstars in their prime hungry for a title. All these teams’ windows to win are open right now. A fifth team to consider is the Brooklyn Nets, who obviously are in the early stages of a long, long rivalry with the Knicks. The Nets have also butted heads with the Celtics, so a playoff matchup between Brooklyn and Boston would be interesting but without a doubt a Nets-Knicks playoff battle would be one for the ages.
The Nets came into this season thinking they would run the Knicks out of town. After beating them in their first ever matchup, the Knicks knocked them off their pedestal with two straight wins. It’s no secret the Nets came into Brooklyn going after the Knicks fan base. They want bragging rights and want to earn their place in New York. The Nets have been one of the hottest teams in the league and are right behind the Knicks. These teams are three games into their rivalry history but it’s safe to say these two squads aren’t going out to eat on their off days together.
The last week and a half we have seen the Knicks cause -on and off the court- controversy with long-time rivals the Bulls and Celtics. We all know what happened with Carmelo and Kevin Garnett on and off the court. Boston and New York haven’t liked each other since this country was born and nothing will change that. Nothing pisses New Yorker’s off more than Paul Pierce and his 16-year-old boy beard hitting a dagger shot. The man is a Knicks killer. One rivalry that is back is the Celtics and Knicks. It might have never left but the stakes are definitely bigger now.
These aren’t Michael’s Bulls anymore. These aren’t Ewing’s Knicks anymore. The torch has been passed to Anthony and the entire Bulls team because they have been playing great without their MVP Derrick Rose. Anyway, with Nate Robinson and Steve Novak adding a little flavor in their press conferences and on the court, it will be fun to watch the Bulls and Knicks battle it out. On the court, All-Star Luol Deng seems to be Carmelo’s kryptonite and is one of the few players who get him out of his zone. Tyson Chandler and Joakim Noah have had words for each other not meant for all ages. Iman Shumpert has said he respects Derrick Rose but straight out doesn’t like him. The Bulls and Knicks aren’t sending each other Christmas cards every year. They don’t like each other, just as it should be.
The Miami Heat will always be the bad guy. However ESPN and everyone wants to twist it. Two years ago these guys were the most hated team in sports, did we forget that? LeBron might have polished his image from his “Decision” but Knicks fans will always hate him. Yeah of course we wouldn’t be saying this if he came to New York, but he didn’t and now we have the right to hate him with all our heart. Dwyane Wade has always been a Knicks killer meanwhile Chandler and Jason Kidd have been Heat killers. Alonzo Mourning isn’t suiting up for the Heat anytime soon but the Miami Heat will always been on the most hated list for the Knicks.
I might have missed Magic vs. Bird. Jordan vs. Ewing. Alonzo vs. LJ. Do I wish I were 20 years old during the 90s? Of course! But I am looking forward to what this year and the future brings for the Knicks’ current rivalries. I’m looking forward to when Carmelo and Kevin Garnett see each other in the paint. When everyone in the building knows Paul Pierce is getting the ball. I want to see Carmelo topple LeBron and the Heat. I want to see Novak hit a three and point to “Young Nathan.” I want to see a Knicks and Nets playoff go seven games and end in the Garden.
This might not be the 90s but we have all the intensity we need.