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Monday, November 26, 2012
Start of East River rivalry 'special' for Melo

By Ian Begley

The East River rivalry isn’t a rivalry yet.

At least, not according to the Knicks.

“A rivalry comes through playoffs and hard fought games,” Tyson Chandler said. “It just doesn’t come from a team moving …. It has to go through history.”

There’s no history between the Knicks and Brooklyn Nets – yet. Chapter 1 begins Monday night when the Knicks invade the Barclays Center for the first time.

And while Knicks-Nets may not be a rivalry, Carmelo Anthony know it’s a big game.

“If we don’t get up for this game, then I don’t know what games we’ll get up for,” Anthony said.

“It’s an inner-city game, New York versus Brooklyn. To me, going back home, going back to my borough, playing my first game back there is a very special moment.”

Anthony, who grew up in Red Hook, Brooklyn, before moving to Baltimore, says he’ll feel at 'home' at the Barclays Center.

“Just to step on that court and to see the Brooklyn logo on that basketball court, I’ll feel like I’m home,” Anthony said. “I know they’re over there and they scream 'Brook-lyn' out in the crowd. Watching the game, it kind of gives me goose bumps just to hear that.”

The Knicks were originally supposed to face the Nets on Nov. 1 in what would have been both teams’ season-opener. But the game was postponed due to damage to the city’s transportation system during Hurricane Sandy.

Both teams come into the rescheduled game with strong records. The Knicks are 9-3, coming off of a rout against Detroit at MSG to snap a two-game losing streak. The Nets (8-4) have won five straight at home and, with a 6-1 record at Barclays, are off to their best home start since 2002-03.

“They're sitting right there in terms of their wins and losses, (and) they're going to be there at the end,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “They're a good basketball team. So this should be very competitive.”

Jason Kidd, who reveled in beating the Knicks at Madison Square Garden as a member of the New Jersey Nets, downplayed the significance of Monday’s game.

“For us, we’re a veteran ballclub and it’s just another game on the road,” Kidd said.

Of course, it’s more than just another game for the teams’ respective fan bases. And it’s more than just a game for the two teams’ front offices.

In a recent television interview shortly before the start of training camp, Brooklyn owner Mikhail Prokhorov took a shot at the Knicks, telling an interviewer, "Ah, oh, Knicks. Yes, I've heard about this second team in New York."

Prokhorov also dissed Knicks owner James Dolan, referring to him in New York Magazine as "that little man."

So far, the trash talk hasn’t extended to the Knicks’ locker room.

But Steve Novak expects the matchup to grow more intense over time -- just as other storied basketball rivalries have.

“Because (New York) is a basketball town, I think it's more than just a normal basketball game,” Novak said. “Because we know what kind of fans are here, it makes it a special game. It's kind of like Duke-North Carolina: they're so close, I think that's what makes it special. To me, it’s the fans and it's New York that makes it special so far, even though (the rivalry) hasn’t begun.”