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Brooklyn Nets fans had it all played out in their heads, even months in advance. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and the rest of the crew would step out onto the hardwood floor of the Barclays Center for their first ever regular season game in New York City’s latest breathtaking sporting venue, and no one would be able to detract from the dominating support of the home team.
Unless of course, the now cross-town rival New York Knicks were to make the short trip from Broadway to Brooklyn to crash the party. But the NBA would never allow that to happen. Never. Right?
The league released the upcoming regular season schedule yesterday, and one of – if not the most – surprising dates that was revealed was November 1st, when Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and the remainder of New York’s original NBA franchise will assist the Nets in opening their brand new home and the 2012-2013 campaign in a battle to see who owns The Big Apple for at least this one night.
Needless to say, Nets fans are absolutely miffed. If you’re close to any and feel like having a hearty chuckle, just ask them what they think of this decision by the schedule-makers. You probably won’t be disappointed with their wild rant of a response. Just make sure to buy them a bottle of water afterwards.
This was supposed to be the next step for their organization. This was supposed to be the moment where they would completely pack the house donning their newly purchased black and white Brooklyn Nets apparel, cheering their heroes on so profusely that there’d be no possible way for them to lose this game. And the country would wonder how the borough of Brooklyn could have possibly been deprived of a major professional sports franchise for more than a half century following the Dodgers taking their act to sunny Los Angeles many moons ago.
Obviously this will not be the case with the Knicks in the building. Knicks fans will make their way from anywhere and everywhere in the city, Long Island, nearby upstate and – as ironic as this may sound – even the state the state of New Jersey in certain cases, which the Nets used to represent, in order to watch the team that was previously the only pro basketball team New Yorkers could feel either proud or ashamed of.
Throw in the fact that they’ve always appreciated an opportunity to witness history as well, and you know they’ll be there in full force. The moment Spike Lee is spotted sitting courtside in a Knicks jersey and hat, playfully harassing Nets players from a seat that would appear very similar to the one he’s always had at Madison Square Garden, you’ll know that this matchup is more than just one game. From now on every meeting will be about reserving bragging rights.
The fact that the Nets long-awaited Brooklyn debut is coming against the Knicks is a pity for both the team and their fans. There’s no question about it. But, for once, the NBA can actually get a pass.
It’s been stated a countless number of times – the NBA is a business. All professional sports leagues are just that, and the NBA is no different. In all likelihood ticket sales would not have been an issue in the Nets home opener in a brand new arena in New York City even if the Knicks weren’t the opponent. The Nets appear to have put together a very competitive core by re-signing Williams, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez, and trading for Johnson. Their fans have been dreaming of the day when they would look this good on paper. The Nets would have certainly sold out their first home game no matter what, as their fans would want to see if the team could indeed live up to their expectations once they got between the lines.
So the league realized that there would still be a way to make even more of a profit off of the first regular season game in the history of the Barclays Center. Television. They knew that if they could create a storyline that would attract even more nationwide viewers than they’d originally expected, this would be it. Knicks-Nets in an all New York showdown with massive star-power all over the floor? Yup, that’s the sound of a ratings explosion.
This right here is also a chance for the NBA to have their version of Major League Baseball’s Subway Series. When the New York Mets and New York Yankees meet for those six games every year the behavior of the crowd is something uniquely fascinating. Regardless of whether the game is in the Bronx or Queens, every time something important happens there’s a significantly loud reaction that is a mixture of both joy and frustration. The NBA finally has a shot to do the same now that it has two New York teams, so they figure there’s no point in waiting around. Not a terrible call on their part.
And let’s be honest, the Nets are not the type of franchise that deserves the best treatment when it comes to scheduling. Only the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are in that class, and even they get the seriously short end of the stick sometimes.
The NBA schedule-makers may have gotten the question on this test wrong, but they should still receive partial credit for their reasoning.
Image Courtesy of Brooklyn Nets