New York is the laughing stock of the NBA
Is the city the basketball capital of the world? You've got to be joking as the Knicks and Nets dish up the trash
New York is a basketball town and well it should be. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation website says there are hundreds of outdoor courts in the city and that, "in the basketball capital of the world, it's possible to find a game within walking distance of any location".
It's certainly true that New York has helped to spread the folklore of basketball as an urban game … but the self-anointed capital of basketball?
Well, hyperbole has never been in short supply in the Big Apple and maybe that is part of the reason why even Miami Beach has had more NBA championship parades then New York City.
Yes, there may be more active basketball players in the city then anywhere else, but part of being the capital is consistently shining on the big stage as well and in that regard New York has long been more Podunk (small town) then Broadway.
However, that would all change, particularly after the Nets, who moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn last season, considerably upped the ante by loading up on high-end, albeit decrepit, talent.
The Knicks, who play in the heart of Manhattan at Madison Square Garden, the self-entitled "world's most famous arena", genuinely believed they were title contenders this year as well. In fact, team owner James Dolan apparently told management before the season that nothing less than a championship would do.
Russian billionaire and Brooklyn owner Mikhail Prokhorov brought in two future Hall of Famers in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who had championship pedigree with the Boston Celtics, to make an already good team great. Pierce quickly fired a salvo at the Knicks and declared the Nets would own New York.
All of this was sweet music to the NBA brass whose office is a mere five-minute walk from the world's most famous arena and is desperate for both teams in the vortex of the global media epicentre to shine brightly.
Small wonder that many in and around the game were gleefully circling their calendars for the first regular season matchup between the two teams. It would be the war for the hearts of Gotham and both would undoubtedly be fighting for first place of the Atlantic division in a nationally televised game.
Well the good news is that the Nets came in two games back off the first place Celtics and the Knicks three back. The bad news is that with only three wins and 13 losses the Knicks were tied for the worst record in the league while the Nets at five wins and 13 losses were hardly better.
"We are the laughing stock of the league," Knicks star Carmelo Anthony admitted before the big matchup.
And being the laughing stock of a league that includes the Eastern conference is really saying something. There are 15 teams in the conference and only two, the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, are above .500.
"I'm embarrassed at the level of basketball that is going on in the NBA today," lamented Hall of Famer and TV analyst Charles Barkley who was in town to work on the big matchup.
"The good thing about it is I get paid to watch this trash. But I feel bad for the fans watching these bad NBA teams every night."
Nobody feels worse then the fans in New York. Granted the Nets are without star guard Deron Williams and Pierce is also hurt but first-year head coach and legendary player Jason Kidd is proving to be in so far over his head that every game feels like his last.
Riding a nine-game losing streak coming into the big matchup, the Knicks were missing big man Tyson Chandler but otherwise had no such excuses.
Both teams have massive payrolls with long-term commitments so this stench will likely linger over New York basketball for a long, long time.
And while the Knicks pounded the forlorn Nets on their home court by a score of 113-83, they still stink.
With the win the Knicks moved within a few games of Boston, who gutted their roster in the hope of gaining a high draft pick in the talent rich 2014 draft but somehow find themselves in the thick of play-off contention.
The Knicks could easily win a division no one wants. But a championship? That is completely out of the question this year for a team playing in the world's most famous arena in the basketball capital of the world.