Sports fans (bandwagon jumpers excluded) are basically divided up into two breeds: fanatical and more discerning.
The first group is best represented by Brooklyn-based filmmaker Spike Lee. Although a majority of his films are dark poetic homages to Brooklyn, Lee stated in an interview with the New York Times that no matter what, he will continue to be a Knicks fan.
The fanatical Knicks fan will cite history and tradition as reasons for donning blue and orange no matter what. These fans may have grown up with Patrick Ewing or, even further back, Clyde Frazier; they associate New York basketball exclusively to the Knicks, and that association shall not be broken.
On the other hand, more discerning fans look for progress, even if that means cutting off historic ties. For some of these fans, the Brooklyn Nets provide a safe harbor from Jim Dolan's more than decade long clutch over the Knicks.
Mikhail Prokhorov—the Nets owner who spent $81 million in 2012 on the new-look Nets squad—has done for New York basketball in one year what Dolan neglected to do for a decade: bring in classy, high-caliber talent that won't engage in questionable off-court behavior.
Nets fans don't have to fear that their team will become the sordid circus that the Manhattan-based Knicks were just a few years earlier. The Nets won't be generating ugly sexual harassment suits or DWI violation stories anytime soon.
Nor will there be an incomprehensible spate of awful transactions for overpriced players with major red flags (Eddie Curry and Zach Randolph, health and weight issues; Stephen Marbury, character).
Granted, the Manhattan-based Knicks have changed their persona since 2010, but they are still a squad pocked with off-the-court behavior issues.
Both guards J.R. Smith and Jason Kidd have partook in questionable off court behavior. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are good for one outlandish media soundbite a month.
Many of the Knicks—Anthony and Stoudemire in particular—have "rock star" personalities. Anthony and his wife La La Vasquez make for a fashionable couple and are photo regulars in the Daily News and New York Post. Stoudemire is the author of the new book series, STAT, a young adult novel about his exploits as a teenager growing up in New York.
Rooting for "rock star" players is exciting—to a point. However, it's worth noting that Anthony and Stoudemire, both of whom will be commanding $20 million salaries in 2012-13, aren't exactly rocking the Eastern Conference. They have won a total of one playoff game since joining the Knicks and are both considered defensive liabilities.
Sometimes you have to wonder if Anthony and Stoudemire's "rock star" status leads to their frequent selfish play on the court.
On the other hand, the Nets' core starting four of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez is a refreshing blend of class and quality.
No, these players don't come with glamorous celebrity girlfriends or tabloid fodder. None of these players will sell more jerseys next year than will Carmelo Anthony.
However, Williams and Johnson are unselfish 20-point-per-game scorers and solid perimeter defenders. Wallace is one of the NBA's top defensive swingmen, and Lopez is a prolific scoring center who, at only 25 years old, still has some upside.
Together, the Nets will be considered a highly professional and relatively humble organization with an owner who is constantly looking to make the squad a legitimate championship contender.
Even if the Nets struggle to win in 2012—a scenario that is hard to believe unless they suffer a key injury—they'll be a hard team not to like.
Which is more than can be said for the Nets' crosstown rivals at the moment.
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