Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Celtics Now Have The Brooklyn Nets to Hate

It wasn't that long ago that the Celtics only major rival in these parts was the New York Knicks.  Yes, I know about the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers, but those aren't geographic rivals, they are rivals of convenience, almost made up for television.  Geographic rivals, especially between New York City and Boston, take on a new dimension.  There is hatred amongst fans, players and media alike.  The games just meant a little more when the opponent was New York City.  I really don't fee that with LA or Miami.

Before this year, it was just the Knicks.  Now there are two teams in New York City that can fight each other and fight the Celtics.  When the Brooklyn Nets were in New Jersey, they were every bit as futile as their poor record would indicate.  We went to the Celtics - Nets game a couple of years ago, right when the Nets were challenging the 76ers record for fewest wins in a season and determined that indeed they were the worst team in the NBA.  Things have changed a lot since that cold, winter night back in 2010.  The Nets were purchased by Russian Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov back in 2010 and he immediately made wholesale changes, using his vast oil resources to change a moribund franchise into a go-to basketball destination.  One of those changes was to move with Jay-Z to Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn from NJ.  New York State of Mind and all. 

More importantly, the personnel has changed as well.  Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez now lead a team that is 4-2 in the Atlantic Division, percentage points ahead of the Celtics.  No longer are the Brooklyn Nets the Celtics' little baby, they are a legitimate team looking to compete with the Celtics and the New York Knicks for the coveted Atlantic Division spot in the playoffs (meaning the third seed).  I mean this team was 22-44 last year!

C and G are even fascinated enough to join me for this game.  And LC joins in if only to see some drama with Kris Humphries and the Kardashians (They split up a long time ago, sweetheart, I don't think any of them will be there - no matter where Dash might be).

7:30pm.  Welcome to the Barclays Center.  Nothing like a European Bank sponsoring an arena in Flatbush.  Welcome to the USA! 

Rajon Rondo is out with a bad ankle, meaning Leandro Barbosa takes the starting spot.  Immediately I think he will have a bad game since he can't come in in the Fourth Quarter and light things up, he will probably end up with 10 points on 3-12 shooting.  The Celtics are also playing a second game in two nights, which is not good for an old franchise like the Boston Celtics. 

Brooklyn, itself comes out in the most drab Black and White home uniforms.  They definitely don't look like they will light anything up.  The drabness is almost to the point that the simple design is brilliant.  I guess it's an ode to the old Brooklyn Dodgers?  The funny thing is, is that they show the banners up in the rafters and they all have the Nets colors.  Not many championship banners hanging there, by the way.  And no I don't really care about the ABA Championships.

I love the pre-game analysis about the Celtics once having the biggest team in the league with Shaq, Jermaine O'Neal and Kendrick Perkins - uh...they never played together...But in listening to Marv Albert, I'll let Steve Kerr go.  It's ok. 

The crowd seems a little more subdued than one would expect though.  I guess, for a new franchise, situated just a couple of miles from the home of another team, the team has to generate some new fans.  I'm curious whether Brooklyn-ites actually root for the Nets, rather than the Knicks.  Welcome to the new New York.

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