Commentary

This love affair is over

The Knicks and the Nets have led us on long enough. It's time to break up

Updated: February 14, 2014, 10:00 PM ET
By Scoop Jackson | ESPN.com

There's always a low point. Even when the bar has been lowered to a level that is lower than it's ever been.

For New York's professional basketball team that low point -- in this lowest of low seasons -- came in that recent home loss to the lowest of low Sacramento Kings, a team that is further out of playoff contention than the Knicks. A game that Carmelo Anthony said going in was a "must-win" for his team. A game the Knicks lost at home (106-101), in overtime. A game where the Kings' best player (DeMarcus Cousins) was injured in the fourth quarter and did not play in the rest of the quarter or in overtime. A game where the Knicks couldn't stop Jimmer Fredette. (Yes, you read that right, Jimmer Fredette.) A game that pretty much, more than any other game so far, defined the entire pre-All-Star break of this season for the Knicks.

For Brooklyn's professional b-ball squad that low point was less confirmed, more convoluted. Just when you thought it was safe to have full, committed faith in the Nets turning around their season, their performance against the Chicago Bulls in their last game before the All-Star break put the real back in realism.

Before the game, Deron Williams said, "We definitely owe them for Christmas." The Nets were held to their second-lowest scoring output of the season (78) and their lowest shooting percentage (35 percent) on Dec. 25 against the Derrick Rose-less Bulls. The Nets, in their version of a "payback" game Thursday, put up only 76 points and shot 39 percent. Brooklyn looked more like the team that opened the season 10-21 and not the team that went 10-3 in January and had won 15 of its past 22 games.

Welcome to the new low.

Both teams had mini-winning streaks to open 2014. It looked as if they were about to turn things around. Anything written about their demise or about a full-throttle fan revolt seemed premature. Until now.

[+] EnlargeKnicks fan
Steve Freeman/Getty ImagesIt's time to put the fan gear away until we no longer look at championship games with our hands on our heads in distress.

Professional basketball in New York. Boroughs: Manhattan and Brooklyn. The time has come.

Time's up. My relationship with it. Your relationship with it. If we care anything about both franchises, we know it's time to pull the plug on the love. Happy freaking Valentine's Day.

Divorce proceedings from the Knicks and the Nets need to begin right now. Even if it seems like one of them (Nets) is finally beginning to play above-subpar basketball, the truth is, deception happens.

Yes, there was a point where the Nets beat Oklahoma City and the Knicks beat San Antonio. And both teams' defenses were locking in, with the Knicks holding Dallas in one game to 80 points in a win, while the Nets held the Cavaliers to 82 in another win. As the old saying goes: That was all good a week ago.

Today, right now, as we go into the All-Star break, do just that with both teams ... Break!

The one thing no fan -- or no one in general when it comes to a relationship -- wants to be is an enabler, empowering and encouraging ineptness. No one wants to be that person who is part of the reason things in a relationship continue to go from bad to worse to worser to seeking legal counsel.

With NBA basketball in New York City and Brooklyn, any further acceptance of what has been on display this season is equal to being an accessory to the crimes they've been committing.

A more gracious way to put this: If the Knicks and Nets were a movie and this column were a movie review, think "After Earth."

Stephen A. Smith publicly claimed he's done, with the Knicks at least. People in Brooklyn are walking around the neighborhood surrounding the Barclays Center shaking their heads. Loyalty in sports can have limits when it comes to poor and pathetic performance, management and operation. Stances sometimes are necessary. As are revolts.

There has to be a time, whether right or wrong in timing, to begin to disconnect if either team is to feel our pain. Just when is the necessary moment, the right time to abandon the relationship? To Usain them and bolt? To pull a Stacy Keibler and leave never-gonna-walk-down-the-aisle George Clooney?

There is no scientific or statistical proof or measure. But for these two teams, if there were ever a time when strategically pulling the plug on a relationship were logical, this would have to be as close to perfect as close-to-perfect will ever get.

So say goodbye. Distance yourself from whichever of the two teams you love, root for and used to respect. The time has come to take any means to get the message out that the standards you (we) set as fans, as external representations of the team, have to be backed by something more than verbal anger and apathy.

There has to be a quota for our acceptance. There has to be a limit to what we are going to continue to allow both teams to get away with. There has to be a ceiling, one not set by anyone inside of or affiliated with either of those organizations.

[+] EnlargeSpurs
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsThe Nets can't seem to keep things under control.

Hands must be forced to make changes, reset and resurrect. Attendance at the Barclays Center and the Garden must drop. YES and MSG network ratings must fall. Apparel on the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan must fade into merch obscurity. At what point do expectations become part of the quotient?

The Knicks and the Nets were "expected" to be, at the most, challengers to the throne; at the least, competitive. They've proved to be the opposite of both so far. For the Nets, their immediate fate possibly will be determined by the first six games after the All-Star break -- all on the road. Their record so far in back-to-backs is 2-10 (they are 0-6 in the second game of home/away back-to-backs). And with eight back-to-back games left in this season, it doesn't look good.

For the Knicks, after a 10-6 January, which got them to an amazing eight games under .500, they are 1-5 in February. No other stats are needed. They're just done.

"We did think certain teams would be really good this year and they just haven't turned out," L.A. Clippers coach Doc Rivers told the Los Angeles Times last month. "We thought the Nets would be terrific; the Knicks too, for that matter. But both of them have had a lot of injuries."

Yes, the Nets' Deron Williams missed 16 games and Brook Lopez played in only 17 before he was lost for the season with a broken foot. For the Knicks, Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton missed a combined total of 40 of the overall 52 games played by their team. It has hurt, but injuries in these cases are more excuse than reason.

So don't live injudiciously. Not now. Not with these teams.

At this very moment and before they sucker us back into complacency with more single-digit winning streaks, walk away and don't accept an apology until they both get out of the first round of a playoff series. Accept nothing less. This is not the time to hold on to that "for better or worse" clause we have with teams we love. We can't go out like that. Not with them. Not this time.

Because at the very end of the day what the Nets and Knicks have given us is not what any one of us signed up for. Plugs should begin to be pulled. Differences, irreconcilable. We deserve better.

Scoop Jackson | email

ESPN.com columnist

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