With both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks riding high this season, a cross-town rivalry is renewed between the neighboring teams and their loyal fanbases.
Games between the two teams have always been chippy, per se, but without actual household names to help forge the fire, the ‘Battle of the Boroughs’ hasn’t necessarily been at the top of fans’ watch list.
That’s all changing now, with the Knicks back in the playoffs, and the Nets looking the part of a contender.
Now, even celebrities are taking sides, with Hall of Fame forward and TV analyst Charles Barkley chiming in.
Barkley: ‘I’m Rooting Against Those Guys’
On a Zoom call on Wednesday afternoon discussing the NBA playoffs and an upcoming golf tournament appearance, Charles Barkley was asked about the Brooklyn Nets, among other things.
His response (via the New York Post) was candid:
I’m not a fan of superteams. If they win it, they win it. But I want to make it perfectly clear — I’m rooting against those guys. I’m rooting against all superteams. I’m old school.
He followed that up with a full-fledge vote of support for the New York Knicks, citing the electric environment that is Madison Square Garden:
The Brooklyn Nets got a much better team, but when they play it’s like a mausoleum. And they got a much better team. I want [the Knicks] because that place was on fire, and I’m hoping they keep getting better because that place was fire. I’ve been there when it’s been on fire.
Barkley’s disinterest with the Nets stems from the ‘super team’ movement, with all of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving now teamed up in Brooklyn:
I just don’t think that’s good for the game. Even though we didn’t win a championship, the Sixers were worth watching when I was there. The Knicks were worth watching. The Pacers were worth watching when Reggie [Miller] was there. Same with Atlanta and Dominique [Wilkins]. I just don’t think it’s good for business but these young kids, they all fold to peer pressure and feel like they got to win a championship or their life sucks.
Rest assured, whether Charles Barkley endorses it or not, the player empowerment is here to stay.
And as much as he may not realize, it’s on its way to New York next.
New York is Star-Hunting, Too
The New York Knicks are a rarity in today’s NBA, in the way that they made their climb from lottery to playoff team without the addition of a superstar talent.
Julius Randle is a pending All-NBA recipient, but no one’s arguing his ability to carry a team to a title shot.
And as is always the case, not even weeks into their offseason, the Knicks are being tied to any and all top talent that’s headed for free agency, or potentially the trade market.
After the Portland Trail Blazers flamed out in the first round of the playoffs, speculation started mounting that Damian Lillard’s frustrations with the team could lead to him requesting a trade.
So far, that’s yet to take place. But New York is one of many teams that have already called about the point guard.
If a sweepstakes is to take place for his services or any other top-tier player with title ambitions, the New York Knicks will be there, ready and willing with competitive offers.
Because they’re looking to build their own version of the Brooklyn Nets.