Can Brooklyn own New York City?
IT'S ALL ABOUT TITLES
New York can eventually be a Nets town -- if Brooklyn wins an NBA title before the Knicks do.
The Knicks have tradition, history and a die-hard fan base. They also haven't won a championship in 40 years -- and now they hope newcomers Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace will be enough to help them end that drought.
The Nets haven't won it all since they were in the ABA. But with the additions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry, they are in a better position than the Knicks to win a championship.
After just one season in Brooklyn, the Nets need some time before they can compete for the lion's share of attention in New York. They're still trying to cultivate a fan base and carve out an identity.
But the team has taken massive steps in trying to achieve both goals. The Nets say they're on the verge of selling out their full season-ticket plans, and it looks as though they'll generate quite a few back pages in the tabloids.
Still, it's all about winning.
New York has historically been a Yankees town but became a Mets town briefly in the late 1980s when the Amazin's were winning and the Bombers stank.
The Nets obviously aren't as established as the Mets were, and the Knicks -- unlike the Yankees then -- are a pretty darn good team.
But if the Nets capture New York's next NBA title, they might just be able to capture control of the city as well.
Mike Mazzeo covers the Nets for ESPNNewYork.com.
65 YEARS OF TRADITION
There's no question that the Nets have made a dent in the battle for the hearts and minds of New York City basketball fans.
Brooklyn has a new intriguing head coach, Jason Kidd. The Nets also ramped up expectations by acquiring Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from the Celtics. In doing so, they've stolen a ton of headlines from the Knicks.
As the Nets get set to introduce their shiny, new acquisitions Thursday afternoon, it seems as though they're closer to an NBA title than the Knicks.
The Knicks are in a constant tug-of-war with the Nets for the loyalty of the New York City hoops fan. But I don't think it's a battle they are in danger of losing.
Call me shortsighted, but I don't see Knicks ceding the title of the Big Apple's most popular team to the Nets.
Why? The Knicks were the only team in town for 65 years. Thousands of New Yorkers have grown up rooting for the Knickerbockers.
What can the Nets do about that? They can win. But even when the New Jersey Nets went to back-to-back Finals in 2002 and '03, they didn't make a dent in the local market.
I don't think a Brooklyn title would make a significant dent in the Knicks' fan base. It's hard to see Knicks fans -- en masse -- jumping ship to pledge their allegiance to the Nets.
Ian Begley covers the Knicks for ESPNNewYork.com.