Paul Pierce hasn't been a Brooklyn Net for two months and he's already sending fightin' words the way of his new cross-town rivals. This is getting good.
Regarding the budding New York rivalry, Pierce didn't mince words with Life + Times' Thomas Harden:
It’s going to be what it was, but now on steroids. This is a city battle. We’re going to divide that city now. Before this was the Knicks town, but now that I’m here we’re going to call it Nets…Nets Village. It’s going to go from Knicks Town to Nets Village. It’s our time.
Apparently eager to invoke a wrath of Madison Square proportions, this is the second time in just over a week The Truth quashed any prospect of an olive-branched reintroduction to the Knicks. In a special on ESPNNewYork.com, Mike Mazzeo relayed what Pierce told ESPN NewYork 98.7 FM's The Michael Kay Show: "I think the hate [for the Knicks] has grown a little. Everybody knows how much I disliked the Knicks when I was with the Celtics, but I think it's grown to another level."
So it's official: At least half the city won't be bringing Mr. Pierce any housewarming gifts.
The 35-year-old Celtics icon has never been shy, but he's milking this one for all it's worth. How much it's in fact worth remains to be seen. This is still a nascent rivalry in the grand scheme, and that won't change until a memorable playoff series or two takes its toll. Proximity alone doesn't make for compelling animosity.
At least Pierce is doing his part. To whatever extent his weekly missives fail to engender a proper rivalry, he can rest assured bad blood is brewing. His confession of growing hatred came on the heels of J.R. Smith putting the brakes on Brooklyn's summer fun (per New York Post's Marc Berman):
They have a great chance to compete for a title. But we’re still the marquee team in New York. A lot of people are counting us out just like last year. We have a lot to prove. We'll come out with a lot of edge and hopefully put it to positive use on the court.
If we're defining "marquee" by things like tradition and legacy, Smith has a point. If we define it in dollar terms, though, Brooklyn's record-setting luxury tax probably counts for something. It could account for a lot of embarrassment if its star-studded roster starts acting its age.
In the meantime, though, that roster's paying for itself in entertainment value alone.