Rivals: The Difference Between The Knicks and Nets

By Jerald LeVon Hoover
Updated: February 12, 2006

NEW YORK – The difference between the cross-state rivals is realistically night and date. One franchise is on ascending and the other is descending and descending rapidly. One franchise is organized and has a philosophy and direction. The other has changed directions, changed coaches, changed schemes and changed players all within the blink of an eyelash without any at all regard for the bottom line. One franchise after being perennial losers and the doormats of the NBA are now fixtures in the Playoff picture. The other franchise merely hopes to make it to the Playoff dance, but when they do, they have flamed out without winning a single game within the last three seasons.

The successful franchise nowadays is the New Jersey Nets and the franchise that is going down the drink is the New York Knicks who cannot decide whether to go with a youth movement or trade away their future for under achieving veterans with bad contracts. And what a difference a few decades make. Because there was a time especially in the primed Patrick Ewing era whereas the Nets couldn’t get a sniffle of success as compared what the Knicks were doing in the glorified Madison Square Garden. (One has to ask, what is the point in stock piling so called first round picks if you’re not going to let the be groomed into the pro game.)

Afterall, the Nets played out in the Swamp of the Brendan Byrne Arena now renamed Continental Airlines Arena in front of mostly middle class family types that wanted to spend a good night out with the family. Whereas the Knicks played in front of the more high rollers, stars or wanna be stars and those that wanted to be seen in the ‘place to be’ of The Garden.

So much for all of the glitz and glitter; for as they say, ‘all that glitters ain’t gold’. And the Knicks are a microcosm of that such thing. Under President and GM Isiah Thomas that losing ways of the franchise has continued. All of this while Thomas has completely (Michael Sweetney-since traded to the Chicago Bulls and Allan Houston-since retired and doing some radio commentary for the Knicks) revamped the roster in the image that he wanted. Thomas wanted longer and more athletic types to run up and down the floor of Gotham.

One major problem with that issue is Thomas isn’t as patient with the players he brings in. Although in most cases the newly signed or newly traded for player is feted with an elaborate press conference and positive declarations of what they can do on the court by none other than Thomas himself. That of course is until the player in question doesn’t get the job done or if they don’t get along with Marbury in some cases where he’s destined to be jettison out to the first taker.

The other major problem is now that Larry Brown has been hired by Thomas there has been a stark difference of opinion on the abilities of the people brought in. Brown has expressed those sentiments from basically his first day on the job. A job that pays him a cool 10 million dollars a year for five years to fix the mess that was here before him.

But on the other side of the Hudson River, General Manager Rod thorn has his Nets going in the right direction. Not shuffling the deck of players as if they are part of a 52 card set of solitaire. The Nets through Thorn, who by the way was the very same man that drafted Michael Jordan for the Bulls when he was General Manager, have a purpose and a method to what they are doing.

The interesting thing that Thorn did a few years ago was traded Kenyon Martin away to the Nuggets for 3 first round draft choices. The move at the time raised eyebrows but, Thorn seeing down the road did not want to have a ‘max’ salaried player that harbored bad practice habits and may be on the injury prone side. Those are the smart and subtle things the Nets as a franchise will do as opposed to the Knicks and their ‘win now at all cost’ theory that has plagued them into a league high 126 million in player salary and a 14-35 record and dead last in the Atlantic Division. Incidentally, the Nets’ team payroll is a paltry 66 million and they are first in the Atlantic Division with a 26-22 record.

And here’s another scary thought, there are rumors that the Knicks are interested in obtaining Martin from the Nuggets. And why not, if you’re the Knicks, after all he’s only due approximately another 60 million on his ridiculous contract.