- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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He played with Ronnie Brewer for four years in Utah. Iman Shumpert used to visit his basketball camp when Shumpert was still in high school. Tyson Chandler and D-Will have both been members of Team USA. His family and Jason Kidd’s family vacationed frequently in the Hamptons during the summer, and for a while it seemed like they were going to pick the same team in the offseason.
“I got some friends on the team,” Williams said after his Brooklyn Nets wrapped up their six-game preseason schedule with a 97-95 overtime loss to the Knicks on Wednesday night at Nassau Coliseum. “But come Nov. 1, we’ll be ready for them. They’re not my friends anymore.”
Well, at least they won't be for 48 minutes on Nov. 1. But you get the point.
The Nets haven’t played a meaningful basketball game since they last appeared in the playoffs five seasons ago. Their players and coaches may downplay it, but the franchise has been looking forward to the Nets-Knicks regular-season opener at the $1 billion Barclays Center for a while.
“We’re ready for the season,” Williams said. “We have a week now to prepare and get ready for the Knicks. We’ll look at this film and see some changes that can be made.”
Coach Avery Johnson still needs to figure out how to get his team to play better defensively and what his rotation is going to look like. Johnson joked that he told Knicks coach Mike Woodson before the game that he wished the team had three more preseason contests. He’s probably the only one who feels that way.
As Williams said, the Nets are ready. And their star point guard, who scored a game-high 22 points against the Knicks on 7-for-16 shooting, is hopeful that the majority of fans inside Barclays Center on Nov. 1 are wearing black and white -- not blue and orange.
“There’s always going to be Knicks fans, though,” Williams said. “They’ll sneak in. They’ll find a way.”
Asked to predict the fan split percentage, Williams replied, “I don’t know. I mean, I’m used to it being 90-10 Knicks, so anything better than 50-50 should be a win, but I think it should be more than that.”
It certainly wasn’t that way Wednesday night.
“There were a little more Knicks fans than Nets fans even though it was our home game, but that’s to be expected on Long Island probably,” Williams said. “But I thought the crowd was great. We had a lot of fans that were cheering and just as loud as Knicks fans.”
Nov. 1 can’t come soon enough.
“I think it’s already heated up a lot,” Williams said. “Everybody’s talking about it. Everybody’s excited about this game, and hopefully it’ll be a good rivalry for years to come.”
5dMarc Stein and Mike Mazzeo