It can be pretty difficult to tell the difference between a Brooklyn Nets fan and a New York Knicks fan, but here is a handy guide to help indicate whether someone will be rooting for Carmelo Anthony or Deron Williams on game night.
I don't seek here to denigrate the Nets or their fans, but as a longtime Jersey City resident, I can attest to the fact that there are many fans of the team who were alienated last season. Anyone living in New Jersey had to be disappointed at the sad product on court last year. The Nets produced a 22-44 record as a swan song to their home of 35 years.
Despite it being their final season in New Jersey, the Nets sported ABA throwbacks for numerous games with the words "New York" emblazoned across the chest. This shouldn't be surprising, as the team kept the designation "New York" even when they played in Teaneck, NJ in 1967.
But when one visits Barclays Center, it's hard to find any evidence that these Brooklyn Nets ever played in New Jersey. Even the championship banners have been changed to black and white. It's like an expansion team just popped up on Atlantic Avenue.
The only reason to jump ship from the Knicks would be due to a (justifiable) hatred of megalomaniacal owner James Dolan and shame over the Isiah Thomas tenure. But the Knicks are looking strong now. Plus, some things you just have to live with.
So the Nets' fanbase has undergone a sea change over the summer, with some New Jersey Nets fans jumping ship. But just as many new fans have jumped on the Brooklyn bandwagon. Here are some tips for distinguishing a hypothetical Nets fans from a Knicks fan
Where Are They From?
Is the basketball fan in question from New York? Then they ought to be a Knicks fan since, prior to this year, the Nets hadn't played in New York since 1976.
Is the person from Brooklyn? They could be either an old Knicks fan or a new Nets fan. It's hard to say. I have to laugh at the copious queries on Spike Lee's Twitter account as to whether he'll be changing his allegiance to the Nets. While Spike did film a mind-bending teaser for the Nets and Knicks' faceoff, the answer from the longtime Brooklyn resident is a resounding no (warning, there's a pinch of NSFW language in there).
Is the person from New Jersey? They might have maintained their Nets' fanship, or they may have mutinied to the Knicks or Philadelphia 76ers. Or perhaps they're just rooting for the WNBA's New York Liberty, who still play at the Prudential Center in Newark.
Is the person from California or the Midwest and just arrived in New York City in the past year or two? Then they're almost certainly a Nets fan.
What Are They Wearing?
Is their hat really shiny, shows no signs of wear and has no curve whatsoever on the brim? Then they're a Nets fan. Knicks fans have old hats (or they're so famous, they just wear any old beaten up hat that has nothing to do with the team).
Does the jersey they're wearing bear the name and number of a player that's currently on the team? Then they're likely a Nets fan (unless it's a Carmelo Anthony jersey).
Real Knicks fans have Patrick Ewing or Walt Frazier jerseys. While the Knicks picked up some casual fans during Linsanity last season, Jeremy Lin is way down in Houston now, so those lay observers should have fallen away by now.
Is the fan in question wearing a bespoke suit and Italian loafers? They're probably going to the Knicks game with corporate tickets, but they're likely not even a basketball fan. Are they wearing skinny jeans and/or TOMS canvas shoes? Nets fan.
How Do They Get Around?
Is this person on a Manhattan bus? They're probably a Knicks fan. Is this person on the subway? Well, that's a push because everyone takes the subway. But if you see someone on a fixed-gear bike or a longboard, then they're almost certainly a Nets fan.
Have they ever been to the Prudential Center, Izod Center, Continental Airlines Arena or Brendan Byrne Arena? If not, they are either a Knicks fan, or they just jumped on the Brooklyn Nets bandwagon.
What Are They Listening To?
Are they listening to Jay-Z? Well, that could go either way because Hova has been around for a long time. Is it off the Reasonable Doubt album? Then it's probably a Knicks fan. If it's off The Blueprint 3 or The Greatest Hits, you're likely overhearing music from the iPod headphones of a Brooklyn Nets fan.
Are they listening to a Notorious B.I.G. song that does not mention the word "Brooklyn" somewhere? It's probably a Knicks fan.
Are they listening to Best Coast, Matt & Kim, Death Cab for Cutie or Sleigh Bells? That's a Nets fan. Fans of Justin Bieber and Barbra Streisand may also have become endeared to the Nets by those two artists' shows at Barclays.
Madison Square Garden, by contrast, has hosted (to name a few): The Concert for Bangladesh, Elvis Presley, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin and a historic sold-out run by Billy Joel. Then again, MSG just hosted One Direction, so no venue is immune to musical bookings that are in poor taste.
What Do They Know About Basketball?
When you ask them where the elbow is, do they point to their arm? When you say "over-and-back," do they think you're referring to their basketball fanship? That would be a Nets fan.
Knicks fans tend to be more astute, mainly because they're been watching their team play basketball for more than six weeks. They know when their team has a foul to give and what a two-for-one is late in a quarter.
What Do They Know About Other Sports?
If it's a wintry weekend, do you notice this person checking their fantasy football team or looking up NFL scores? Once spring is on the way, you may notice these same people following spring training as baseball starts up again.
These people are Knicks fans. They're real fans who have been following sports for quite some time. They know their stuff, and the sports they follow are played by professionals and shown on television.
Who ya got?
On the other hand, is the person talking about their Skee-ball league? Have you ever seen them play Kan-Jam? Do they own a pair of unused parkour shoes? Nets fan.
Hockey is still locked out. Again. But if the person is a Rangers fan, they're a Knicks fan. If they're a Devils fan, they probably just became a Knicks fan because no one is commuting from New Jersey to Brooklyn.
And if for some reason they're an Islanders fan, they're probably just at Barclays Center so they can check out what their new home looks like when 2015 rolls around.
So there you have it, six easy criteria for determining someone's rooting interest in the NBA. Some might say that the Nets own bragging rights after their overtime victory against the Knicks on November 26. But as of December 10, the Knicks are atop the Eastern Conference while the Nets have stumbled by losing their last four games, including three at Barclays Center.
As Astro from The Jetsons would say, "Ruh roh!"