Last night’s Knicks/Nets game – the first between the two local rivals at the new Barclay’s Center – was electric. There’s really no other way to describe the atmosphere in Brooklyn. Just watching on TV, you could feel the intensity and pride both team’s took in beating each other.
The game, which was rescheduled from November 1st due to Hurricane Sandy, was physical and as entertaining of a regular season NBA game I have watched in some time. It felt like a playoff game, especially with Jay-Z and Beyonce sitting courtside.
The Nets defeated the Knicks 96-89 in overtime to gain a share of first-place. Williams, Lopez and Wallace all scored at least 16 points and Stackhouse (fittingly wearing no. 42 for a Brooklyn team) added 14 points off the bench including the go-ahead three in OT.
Brooklyn native Carmelo Anthony was especially excited for this game and he played like it scoring 35 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. But he also went 10 of 16 from the free throw line and missed a potential game-winning jumper with time winding down in regulation. The Knicks were without Jason Kidd (back spasms), who has been a large part of the team’s early success.
The crowd was fantastic and probably skewed 60/40 in favor of the Nets. The Knicks fans made themselves heard even starting audible “defense” chants when the Nets were on offense. After most made baskets, the Nets fans engage in a “Brooklyn” chant which was cool at first but got old quickly. If nothing else, the fans and team seem to have an extreme sense of pride in their new hometown.
I also found it awesome that they play rap instrumentals while Brooklyn has the ball. I would love that if I was a player. Who wouldn’t get pumped up while playing basketball and hearing “No Church in the Wild” instrumental in the background?
Moving to Brooklyn also opened up a whole new array of songs that Barclay’s could use during timeouts to get crowd hyped. Any Notorious B.I.G. or Jay-Z song usually has at least one Brooklyn reference in it that lends well to a crowd chant. It’s safe to say the Nets did not have this atmosphere at the Izod or Prudential Centers in New Jersey.
As a Knicks fan, I was disappointed in the outcome of last night’s game but I’m excited about this budding rivalry. The Garden is still the mecca of sports venues but Barclay’s proved it’s got its own charm. The intensity of the players and fans was infectious and a great sign for the future of New York basketball. Last night was the start of something great and I’m looking forward attending classic Knicks/Nets match-ups at the Barclay’s and the Garden for years to come.