The NBA's players pride themselves on many things, including street cred.
I'm not talking about the traditional form of street credentials, but the professional basketball version—the one that becomes enhanced by playing in a big market like both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks do.
Which is why the Knicks-Nets rivalry extends far beyond the basketball court. As two teams that essentially share the same turf, the competition between them doesn't cease when the final buzzer sounds.
Instead, what transpires on the hardwood is but a fraction of how these entities are compared to one another. Wins over the other can speak volumes, but New York and Brooklyn square off just four times during the regular season.
And let's face it: The battle for New York—for the more potent fanbase—cannot be won, lost or determined in any way in just four games.
Can it provide an edge as to who the best team in New York is?
Absolutely, but it's not everything.
Egos are sometimes wrongly perceived as a bad thing. After all, fans aren't exactly appreciative of a player who is full of himself.
That said, when a player's ego exudes more swagger, more constructive confidence than anything else, that's an attitude with which the general public can get on board.
Looking at both the Knicks and Nets, it's easy to see which convocation is in possession of more swagger.
Deron Williams is one of the most confident players in the game, as is Joe Johnson. They carry themselves on the court like superstars who expect to win every night because, well, they're superstars who expect to win every night.
Even Gerald Wallace and Reggie Evans, in all their defensive and flopping tenacity, are brimming with swagger. They too instill confidence not just in their fanbase, but their teammates as well.
And yet, does Brooklyn really compare to New York in this department?
Outside of him, though, you have guys like Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith and the injured Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert.
Chandler and Stoudemire are team-first guys who carry themselves with the utmost of ferocity, with the most absolute of sureness; they know the Knicks can contend.
It doesn't get much more confident than that.
The Nets have Jay-Z and Beyoncé, and Mikhail Prokhorov has become sort of a celebrity, but the Knicks have, well, everyone else.
OK, I exaggerate. But only slightly.
As time progresses, more celebrities will undoubtedly plant their flag in Brooklyn, but there's no competing with Spike Lee and the rest of the famous faithful that routinely park themselves courtside at Madison Square Garden.
Not even a little bit.
Unless you're the Los Angeles Lakers, that is.
Both New York and Brooklyn are sporting new uniforms this season, but only one has generated a wealth of interest.
The Knicks continued to build upon their traditional colors of orange, blue and white of course.
Their new jerseys, both home and away, are more vibrant than they've ever been before; it's impossible to miss them. That holds true for New York's Christmas uniforms as well, which are entirely orange and highlighter-esque to say the least.
As for the Nets, they have taken a more subtle all-black approach, and people love it.
There's something just tasteful about the sleekness of the color scheme, for both the home and away versions of the uniforms.
Brooklyn's Christmas Day jerseys hardly stray from the traditional concept either, using, once again, an all-black color scheme to get the job done. And get the job done they did, as the Nets boast one of the most debonair-looking jerseys in the entire league.
Being that it's so early in the Nets' Brooklyn tenure, it's not yet possible to measure the financial impact the prominent market has had on its players.
That said, Williams began reaping the benefits of the impending move last season when he picked up a handful of additional endorsements.
At this time, however, that's simply not enough to eclipse the earnings of Anthony and even Stoudemire, who were among the top 10 in earnings—both on and off the court—last year alone.
Again, though, this stands to change as the Nets continue to establish themselves in Brooklyn. The better the individual players perform, the better the team does, the more endorsements will be handed out.
This one is no contest.
Brooklyn could win the NBA title this season, and it still wouldn't hold the same purpose New York does.
As horrific as the Knicks have been in recent years, they are one of the most heralded teams of all time. They're enshrouded in rich history which includes two NBA titles and a bevy of Hall of Famers like Walt "Clyde" Frazier, Willis Reed and Patrick Ewing, among others.
Upon the Nets' arrival in Brooklyn, the greatest concern was whether the team would generate enough support from New Yorkers because of the Knicks and the clout they hold.
Clearly, there is a place for the Nets in New York, but Brooklyn will never be able to replace the Knicks as the Big Apple's team.
Not when they're just a year into their tenure. Not when the Barclays Center is constantly littered with orange and blue.
And certainly not when the Knicks have one of the most potent reputations in all of basketball.
Madison Square Garden is the brightest stage in the league, home to one of the richest NBA teams and most devoted fanbases ever.
But that's all a part of the Knicks' tradition, their captivating history.
When fans look at arenas, they don't just see historical purpose, though. They see a cosmetic makeup and structure, one that is either awe-inspiring or not.
Though the Garden has undergone a serious transformation, the Barclays Center is brand-spanking new and modernized to the high heavens.
No, Brooklyn's home court certainly doesn't hold the reputation New York's does, but it's rapidly building a mighty one of its own.
Because, again: It's new, it's modern, and it's innovative.
And as fans, we can certainly appreciate and admire an arena with a contemporary design—even if it comes at the expense of acknowledging Madison Square Garden is superior in reputation, but inferior in physical appearance.
Who has more street cred?
Brooklyn has made quite a ruckus in the early going.
Plenty of fans have come out to support New York's newest team, and the Nets are swiftly building a reputation that is all their own.
But that's not enough right now.
The Knicks are still New York's team, from the roster to their reputation to, well, the streets.
Brooklyn hasn't had an adequate opportunity to establish everything that comes with building such credentials just yet. Sure, the Nets have swagger of their own, a beautiful new arena and uniforms that go easy on the eyes, but they lack that tradition, that confidence that comes with being a market's primary team.
That same tradition and confidence that the Knicks, their players and their fans vaunt.
And yeah, the same state of being that makes it abundantly clear that the Knicks, by far, are the team with more street cred.
Overall advantage: Knicks