The Jeremy Lin fiasco may have finally pushed New York basketball fans over the edge, but for the first time in a long life of disappointments they finally have another option besides quiet rage: Move to Brooklyn.
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The next NBA season will see the arrival of the Nets on Flatbush Avenue, the first pro sports team to play in the borough since the Dodgers left in 1958. For frustrated Knicks fans, this may the perfect opportunity to abandon the franchise that has brought them nothing but disappointment and shattered dreams for more than 30 years and get fresh start without leaving the city. But will rooting for the team that wasn't good enough for New Jersey really ease their pain? Are the Nets just as terrible?
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To help figure out, we've broken down some the key factors that might help New Yorkers decide who to root for. You'll quickly realize that choosing between the Knicks and Nets is a really matter of deciding which team is the least upsetting to be a fan of. It's not pretty, but it's the only way to find out.
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Knicks: James Dolan, CEO of Cablevision Dolan runs a cable company, the most hated industry in America, but he didn't even have the decency to build his empire himself. He inherited his position from his father. Both the Knicks and the NHL's Rangers have suffered years of misery under his stewardship, thanks to expensive free-agent busts, poor drafting, and worse coaching. In his spare time, Dolan plays in a terrible blues band.
Nets: Mikhail Prokhorov, Russian minerals oligarch Prokhorov earned his billions of dollars in the post-Soviet era through a series of business maneuvers so fortuitous that they were almost certainly the result of corruption, bribery, or dumb luck. He acquired Russia's state-owned nickel mining operation through a rigged auction and flipped that into Russia's largest gold mine just before the economic collapse in 2008 sent the price of the metal soaring (and the the price of everything else into the toilet.) He recently ran for president against Putin, but was widely suspected of actually being a stooge candidate blessed by the government as a way to siphon away opposition. Seems dicey, but the dude dates models, doesn't drink or do drugs, doesn't own a computer, has a funny accent, and loves jet skis. He's also 6'5" and can dunk, so it's hard to stay mad at him.
More Evil: KNICKS
Knicks: Isiah Thomas. For reasons no one can explain, Dolan remain in thrall to Thomas, who is arguably the worst executive in the history of sports. After bankrupting the entire Continental Basketball Association and ruining the Indiana Pacers through his inept coaching, Thomas was hired to run the Knicks' basketball operations in 2003. Under his leadership, payroll soared, attendance dropped, he was sued for sexual harassment (costing the company $11 million), the team was fined by the NBA for violating league rules, and they never made the playoffs once. Yet, just one year after finally caving in to fan outrage and firing Thomas, Dolan tried to re-hire him as a "special consultant." Technically, he doesn't work there anymore, but his presence haunts the entire fan base.
Nets: Jay-Z. I mean, do we really need to get into this one?
More Evil: KNICKS
Knicks: Madison Square Garden The self-proclaimed "World's Most Famous Arena" is dripping with history, is conveniently located above a train station in the heart of the city, and is in the midst of an almost-billion-dollar upgrade that includes better seats, better sight lines, better food, and just a better looking building. It's as expensive as heck to go to games there, but we are talking about Manhattan.
Nets: Barclays Center A state-of-the-art pleasure palace ... that's a bit too small and ugly as sin. It really is a grotesque eyesore (named after a bank currently under fire on both sides of the Atlantic for rigging financial markets) that bulges above the pavement like a rusted out alien spacecraft. But that's only half of it. The arena was built with the help of a shady land deal that took millions in taxpayer funds, abused eminent domain laws to kick people out of their homes, and will probably never deliver on the low-cost housing and office buildings that were promised as part of the original deal. Oh, and it sits on the busiest intersection in Brooklyn, promising traffic jams and overcrowded streets on every game night.
More Evil: NETS
Knicks: The orange and blue of the Knicks unis is distinctive and colorful. We like 'em.
Nets: They haven't unveiled their new uniforms, but the new team colors are black and white. That's what unimaginative bad guys wear.
More Evil: NETS
Knicks: Without a doubt, the biggest breakout story of the last NBA season was Jeremy Lin, an young, exciting, Asian-American, Harvard grad who electrified the Garden with his plucky backstory and inspired play. In the course of half-a-season he became the most popular Knick since Patrick Ewing retired. So naturally the team let him go to Houston and replaced him with a 39-year-old point guard who got a DWI two days after signing his new contract. They also sometimes have Carmelo Anthony.
Nets: The Nets made a bold play this offseason, signing Atlanta's Joe Johnson, convincing start point guard Deron Williams to take their big contract and stay, then put all their efforts into landing coveted free agent Dwight Howard to complete their own "Big Three" triangle of superstardom. It failed. Now Nets fans are stuck with more Brook Lopez, the ex-Mr. Kim Kardashian, and two superstars who are likely to be grumpy when they realize who they are playing with.
More Evil: Draw
GREATEST FRANCHISE MOMENT
Knicks: 1970: An injured Willis Reed comes out of the locker room before Game 7 of the NBA Finals, scores the first two baskets of the game and the Knicks roll to their first NBA title.
Nets: 1984: Darryl Dawkins sets the NBA single-season record for personal fouls. It still stands.
More Evil: Nets
WORST FRANCHISE MOMENT
Knicks: Tie: Jeremy Lin signs with Houston/This:
Nets: Guard Drazen Petrovic dies in a car accident at age 28. Awful.
More Evil: Draw. Knicks have a much larger store of terrible memories, but Petrovic hurts the most.
Knicks: Spike Lee. The director has had front row center court seats for so long they should give him a uniform and his legendary shouting matches with opposing players like Reggie Miller have even impacted games. Though often to the Knicks detriment. His worship of Knick-killer Michael Jordan is also unforgivable.
Nets: This kid, we guess.
More Evil: Knicks
As you can see, this is really what it all comes down to: Which side of the East River do you prefer? Do you enjoy smaller apartments, higher rents, getting run over by bike messengers, and never getting a moment's piece and quiet? Or do you like unkempt beards, double-wide baby strollers, never being able to find a taxi, and falling asleep on the J train? Would you rather fight the crowds at Penn Station or Atlantic Avenue? Stand in line for $25 cocktails at a hotel bar or $5 slices of brick oven pizza in the middle of nowhere? Either way, you're still stuck watching terrible basketball in the greatest city on Earth.
THE FINAL VERDICT? Cancel your cable package, move to Hawaii, and take up surfing. With any luck, you'll get eaten by a shark and never have to think about either franchise ever again.
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