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How the Brooklyn Nets overtook the sorry Knicks to become NYC’s team

“The New York Knicks have lost New York to the Brooklyn Nets,” Stephen A. Smith said this morning after the news broke yesterday that the Nets signed Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

Smith, a journalist, sports commentator, and leading personality in the current climate of funny and quotable media content, is also a lifelong New York Knicks fan. He summed up the feelings of Knicks fans everywhere this morning, additionally saying,

“This is the absolute worst day in the history of the New York Knicks franchise.”

Kyrie Irving is signing a four year $141 million contract to join the Nets, and Durant is signing for four years at $164 million.

Smith, perhaps the most notable New York Knicks fan not named Spike Lee, is not alone in the disappointment Knicks fans are feeling this morning. New York is probably the biggest mecca for basketball in the entire world and has fans far-and-wide who are proud, impassioned, and loyal to a fault.

Knicks fans have not been quiet in their discontent with the most abysmal and pathetic franchise in professional team sports over the past twenty years, but every step of the way their loyalty has seemed like it would always remain.

That may be changing.

New York has always been a Knicks town, and the steady flow of fans and money in and out of Madison Square Garden every year is evidence of this. Even seven years ago, when the Nets moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn and planted themselves on New York soil, there was no question of which team dominated the city, had more fans, and carried the bigger spotlight.

After last night, that certainty is over.

The Nets won the first day of NBA free agency, and as Smith said, won New York. Brooklyn is the lesser-known relative compared to Manhattan, where the Knicks play, but Brooklyn has a bigger population and is no Oklahoma City. Anyone who has been to the waterfront or downtown of Brooklyn can attest to how beautiful and lively the area is.

Irving happens to be from the area (across the river in New Jersey), and a childhood fan of the Nets. Durant already planned to spend his summer in New York and seems primed to build his brand and network in this city for years to come.

The Brooklyn Nets have completed the greatest rebuild the NBA has ever seen. Six years ago, when the Nets traded their future picks to the Celtics for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce (who had a combined age of 73), they quickly found themselves devoid of young players, picks, and consequently, a future.

Staring into a dark realm of shame and obscurity, the Nets pivoted and hired Sean Marks as General Manager and Kenny Atkinson as a coach, two young and forward-thinking basketball minds.

The Nets next step was acquiring any picks and young players they could through taking on unwanted salaries. Marks and Atkinson preached patience, development, and establishing a culture in Brooklyn above all else.

The Nets’ further brilliance and management of the cap over the last few months allowed them to sign both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. In fact, the Nets are also signing DeAndre Jordan, a close friend of Irving and Durant, and the latter two are taking slight pay cuts so that Jordan can receive a contract for four-years, $40 million.

Sidenote: Jordan played on the Knicks for the second half of last season, lowkey.

Contrary to the Nets, the Knicks mishandled their cap over the last few years and were forced to trade away their young star player Kristaps Porzingis to create cap space for this summer because they were sure they were going to get Kevin Durant and another star player in free agency. #Sick.

James Dolan, the Knicks owner and clear perpetrator of the worst managed team of a big market in NBA and possibly sports history, spoke with such booming confidence over this past year of the Knicks’ chances of signing big free agents, one would’ve thought the deals were already in place.

Unlike Brooklyn, New York had the history, and the opportunity for a legacy-changing move if Durant went to the Knicks and won a championship. Can you imagine the streets of midtown Manhattan if Durant delivered them a championship for the first time since 1973? Constant parades would be held, statues would be built, Durant would have a key to the city.

So why, with every perceivable advantage at their disposal, did the Knicks lose out, once again, on the top free agents they had been rumored to get? Gross mismanagement and ineptitude is the reason, along with the ego of James Dolan who Stephen A. Smith’s First Take partner Max Kellerman says “treats the Knicks like an ATM instead of a public trust.”

In the past few years, Dolan has thrown out and banned for life beloved Knicks legend Charles Oakley from Madison Square Garden, along with banning a fan for life who held up a sign calling for Dolan to sell the team.

After learning they weren’t going to get Durant, the Knicks tried to spin the narrative and say they wouldn’t pay Durant the max. Pathetic. Pitiful. Signs of a weak and insecure man calling the shots.

While Durant is injured and likely out the entire next season, Brooklyn is still set up with Irving, Jordan, sharpshooter and defending 3-point-contest champion Joe Harris, sixth-man-of-the-year candidate and friend of Irving Spencer Dinwiddie, rising star and talented shot-blocker Jarrett Allen, and more complimentary pieces.

The Nets are fun. The Knicks are piteous.

The stark and vast dichotomy between the two New York franchises is perhaps the most profound today. The Nets are well-managed, have a great medical staff, and star players.

The Knicks have 19-year-old R.J. Barrett… Yeah.

As a Nets fan, I am extremely excited to see what these next four years hold in store for the most fun and joyous team of last season. As a New Yorker, I can’t help but feel sorry for Knicks fans.

You all deserve better.