April 13, 2013

Winning Basketball is Finally Back in NYC

By - Jaquan Murphy

It's been a long time coming.

With both the Knicks and Nets clinching playoff spots this season, it's safe to say that basketball is finally back in New York City. After residing in or near the cellar of the Eastern Conference for multiple years, both squads are once again relevant.

Photo from: espn.go.com
But how did we get to this point?

It all started back in 2009. A major overhaul of the Knicks roster began in preparation for the much-anticipated summer of 2010. The 2009-10 season saw the team shed the contracts of Larry Hughes, Jared Jeffries, Nate Robinson and Jordan Hill in multiple deals at the trade deadline. In return, they acquired expiring contracts of J.R. Giddens, Eddie House, Tracy McGrady, Sergio Rodriguez and Bill Walker. Later in the season, they also placed Cuttino Mobley on waivers. This put the club in a position to have a roster with a majority of expiring contracts so they would have the opportunity to pursue two big name free agents when they went on the market.

Once the summer of 2010 hit, the frenzy began. Nine players became free agents. Al Harrington and David Lee headlined the group of players that departed the Big Apple.

New York's primary target was star forward LeBron James. When their efforts fell short, they acquired Amar'e Stoudemire in a sign and trade from the Phoenix Suns. In an attempt to fill up the roster around Stoudemire, the Knicks landed Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Randolph and Ronny Turiaf from the Golden State Warriors in a sign and trade for David Lee. They boosted the roster further by signing point guard Raymond Felton and their two draft picks, Landry Fields and Andy Rautins.

Across the river, the Nets were planning their move to Brooklyn. March 26th, 2010 saw the groundbreaking ceremony for the building of their new home, the Barclays Center. While the Knicks were revamping their roster, the Nets were signing role players and securing young ones. That was their plan B, since they failed to land a big name in free agency. They re-signed Derrick Favors and inked Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw and Johan Petro to go with their big man Brook Lopez. Later in the summer, they acquired Courtney Lee and Troy Murphy in trades.

As the summer ended, the 2010-11 season saw even more changes to the landscape of basketball in New York City. The Nets were marketing their move to Brooklyn and the Knicks were competing with their new big man. Throughout the course of the season, there were serious rumors about Denver Nuggets star forward Carmelo Anthony landing in New York. On February 22nd, the rumors became reality when the Knicks sent Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Anthony Randolph to the Nuggets for Anthony and veteran guard Chauncey Billups.

The very next day, the Nets sent shock waves through the NBA by acquiring Utah Jazz star point guard Deron Williams for Derrick Favors and Devin Harris. Now both teams found themselves in a position to sell tickets and compete thanks to the new players on their roster.

The 2011-12 campaign saw the two New York teams make even more changes. The Knicks acquired defensive specialist Tyson Chandler from the Dallas Mavericks. The season also saw the birth of Linsanity and the discount double check of Steve Novak. Later in the year, the team signed explosive sixth man J.R. Smith. The Nets were making major moves as well. March of 2012 saw the club acquire high-flying swingman Gerald Wallace from the Portland Trail Blazers. However, their major moves came in the offseason. They locked in their franchise players, Williams and Lopez, and their key role player, Gerald Wallace, to multi-year deals. Then the Nets made another shocking move; acquiring Atlanta Hawks All-Star guard Joe Johnson. Now the team had a star trio to match up with the Knicks trio of Amar'e, Melo and Chandler.

Then came the 2012-13 season. The New Jersey Nets became the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks clearly became Carmelo Anthony's team. All questions about roles were answered and the definition of roles showed as the Knicks came out of the gates with a 6-game winning streak to start the season. While the Knicks battled with the Miami Heat early on for control of the conference, the Nets settled into the middle of the pack for the duration of the season. As time passed, the Heat eventually separated themselves from the rest of the East, but the Knicks kept solid hold on the 2-spot for most of the season. The Nets slid up and down, going as low as 7th and rising as high as 4th.

Now with the playoffs right around the corner, the Knicks will go in as the 2-seed and the Nets will go in as the 4. Both team's success has New York relevant in the sports world again. The Knicks have Amar'e and Melo locked in for the long run, just as the Nets have Williams and Lopez signed to long-term contracts, so the heart of both teams should pump for years to come. This should result in the building of two potential powerhouse clubs, which will keep New York basketball on the map for both the immediate and distant future.


  1. Knicks are closer to a title then the Nets are, but its nice to see both teams finally playing well again in the greatest city in the world. Leagues are always better off when New York based teams are in contention.

  2. Neither one of them are getting by the Heat. No team in the east is.