Looking back, the summer of 2019 seems like it was a fever dream. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving chose the Nets over the New York Knicks, which seemed like a nightmare scenario then but turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
With KD and Irving, Brooklyn dominated the New York rivalry for four years, with the Nets winning 11 of 13 regular season games before the 2023 trade deadline. However, that success didn’t carry over to the playoffs, where Brooklyn won only one playoff series and failed to at least make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
When the Nets traded Irving and Durant in February, the Knicks won their final two head-to-head matchups in 2022-23. All is well in New York again, with the Knicks being recognized as the best NBA team in the city, although even when the Nets had KD, Irving, and James Harden, Brooklyn didn’t take over NYC.
As NBA.com senior writer Michael C. Wright put it, the city will always belong to the Knicks.
"Let’s keep it 100 here: the Knicks will always be the bigger deal in the Big Apple than the Nets regardless of how well or poorly either team is playing. It’s simply the history of the city’s fanbase, similar to the Yankees and Mets in MLB or Giants and Jets in the NFL."
NBA.com writer says Knicks will “always be the bigger deal in the Big Apple”
Let’s be honest. Knicks fans know that their team has more notoriety in New York than the Nets ever will, regardless of the roster. The notoriety doesn’t equate to wins, though, making the Knicks’ current team more special.
Brooklyn is entering its first full season in the post-Kevin Durant/Kyrie Irving era, and the guess is that the Nets will be a play-in team. Mikal Bridges’ run to end last season gave fans hope for the future, but Brooklyn’s first championship is still far out of reach. The Knicks aren’t a championship contender, but they are one superstar trade away from being so.
Even without a superstar on the roster, New York is far better than Brooklyn. Jalen Brunson is poised to have another career year, Julius Randle is unstoppable during the regular season (and will hopefully shift the playoff narrative in 2024), Immanuel Quickley is coming off a runner-up finish for Sixth Man of the Year, and Quentin Grimes could be the next young player to have a breakout season.
So, while NYC will always belong to the Knicks, it’s a lot more fun to root for a winning team.