The Battle for New York City

Nets versus Knicks: The Season Opener That Never Happened

Michael Scotto, SNYNets.com

On Thursday, November 1st, the Brooklyn era was supposed to begin with the Nets and New York Knicks squaring off in the first “Battle of New York” at Barclays Center.

However, Hurricane Sandy and Mother Nature never received the memo and decided that the anticipated matchup would not take place.

Due to raging winds that knocked down trees, severe flooding in numerous train stations and power outages across much of New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NBA decided to postpone the season opener.

The traveling difficulties and safety concerns of players and fans made this the correct decision. Traveling to Barclays Center would have been a challenge even for those that live within close proximity of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, much less those traveling from other boroughs, Long Island, New Jersey, or out of state.

Now, unfortunately, the ideal script to the start of the Brooklyn era was ripped to shreds as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

We Just Have To Wait

Carmelo Anthony was born in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn and could have easily become the face of the Brooklyn franchise if the Nets managed to pull off a deal with the Denver Nuggets. After months of discussions, though, Anthony was ultimately traded to the Knicks.

Would the Barclays crowd have cheered Anthony, a Brooklyn native? Or would they have booed Anthony because he is a member of the “Manhattan Knicks?”

That’s what Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz calls the Nets’ intra-city rivals.

Due to Hurricane Sandy, we’re forced to wait anxiously for the answer.

After losing out on Anthony, the Nets managed to trade for Deron Williams. Williams became the face of the Brooklyn franchise after re-signing with the club this past summer and now, with Joe Johnson, will form one of “the best backcourt in the NBA,” according to Nets general manager Billy King.

The reality of Brooklyn having a professional basketball team and the electricity and hype from fans and media alike was supposed to culminate on November 1.

The booming voice of public address announcer David Diamante was supposed to announce the Brooklyn Nets starting five, for the first time ever in a regular season NBA game, against the Nets intra-city rival, led by Anthony—a Brooklyn native.

Carmelo Anthony

The crowd was supposed to give a thunderous roar for Williams—their leader in the quest to become a champion. For the first time in over 50 years, Brooklyn would be a major league sports town—a feeling that Brooklyn hasn’t known since the Dodgers left the borough in 1957.

By opening the season against the Knicks, the Nets would have had the opportunity to prove they are no longer the “littler brother,” but rather, that there was a new sheriff in New York City.

The opener was supposed to be a “go big, or go home” moment with intensity and hype that would be large enough to fill Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden simultaneously.

Instead, the Nets will open their season on Saturday, November 3rd against the Toronto Raptors.

This wasn’t the vision Mikhail Prokhorov, Bruce Ratner, and Brett Yormark outlined when the NBA schedule was announced.

TNT was going to nationally televise the game and give Brooklyn a major opportunity for exposure.

Fans pictured Anthony and Williams leading both of their teams going back-and-forth at each other until the final last second shot at the buzzer.

Would the Knicks have the ball with a chance to win the game at the buzzer and Anthony isolated on the wing?

Would Williams have the ball at the top of the key isolated against Raymond Felton with time winding down?

We won’t know. We’ll just have to wait, which is hard to do if you’re from Brooklyn, Manhattan, or anywhere in New York.

Remember, New York is called the city that never sleeps for a reason. Even Hurricane Sandy couldn’t knock out the flashing billboards that light Times Square.

In some ways, Hurricane Sandy altered the course of New York City basketball history.

The first ever regular season game played in Barclays Center won’t be a Knicks versus Nets season opener with memories that will be passed down to future generations of fans.

And sadly, it won’t be a game featuring the birth of a new intra-city rivalry.

Williams expressed his feelings to the media upon hearing news of the postponement.

“We’re disappointed that we can’t play, but there’s a lot more important things going on right now,” said Williams—who is one of more than eight million people who lost power due to the hurricane.

Despite being “disappointed,” Williams acknowledged the pros of the decision to postpone the game against the Knicks.

“It’s better to open the building with a good buzz and good atmosphere,” said Williams. “That would be hard to do if people can’t really get to the games.”

King, the Nets general manager, feels the “good buzz and good atmosphere” Williams mentioned would be out in full force on November 3rd when the Nets hold their newly scheduled season opener against the Toronto Raptors.

“The first one, when we do play, the fans will be here,” said King. “It may not be the Knicks, but it will still be a basketball game and I think it’ll be important because it’ll be the Brooklyn Nets’ first regular season game in this building (Barclays Center).”

While it’s not on the same scale as when Brooklyn lost the Dodgers to Los Angeles, make no mistake about it; Sandy robbed Brooklyn of the ideal season opener for fans to discuss for generations to come.

Michael Scotto is an Analyst for SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter for the latest news from Brooklyn and the NBA: @MikeAScotto