The Nets get a lot of the bold-faced headlines now, and with cause. When the 2020-21 NBA season begins, they are going to definitely be among the many most intriguing groups within the league, with or with out James Harden. Just the presence of Kevin Durant adjustments the dynamic for them — no matter how a lot of his previous self he’s ready to current as a Net.
And the profitable that’s anticipated to observe …
Well, that’s the half that’s most intriguing for the Nets, who’ve been the No. 2 crew in a two-team basketball city from the second of their inception, the second they have been based because the New Jersey Americans earlier than the 1967-68 ABA season.
And it hasn’t matter the place they’ve planted a flag — in Teaneck or Piscataway or East Rutherford or Newark, over in Jersey; in Commack, West Hempstead and Uniondale out on the Island; or in Brooklyn, on the fabled website the place Walter O’Malley needed to construct a domed model of Ebbets Field — they’ve been the No. 2 crew on the town.
It didn’t matter that they received two ABA titles whereas the Knicks’ early-’70s mini-dynasty was breaking down, didn’t matter that they went to back-to-back NBA Finals early within the 2000s when the Knicks’ mid-’90s glory push started to collapse. Always a bridesmaid, by no means a bride of their hometown.
The chorus at all times went this manner:
“If only Dr. J played his games at the Garden …”
“If only Jason Kidd and Kenyon and the rest played in Manhattan and not hard by Exit 16-W …”
So the query is a good one: If not now, when? The Knicks actually do appear dedicated to the lengthy recreation this time round, so there can be at the very least one other few years the place the one competition will happen in Brooklyn. The Nets have the celebrities. They have the expectations. There are straightforward metrics we are able to observe — TV scores, attendance (as soon as individuals are allowed to truly attend video games again).
But the truth can be plainer than that, and extra refined.
If it occurs, we’ll know that it occurred. People will discuss concerning the Nets simply, and it received’t appear odd or misplaced. That hasn’t occurred but, not actually. But this time it does appear to be getting louder, and extra prevalent. We may be seeing a franchise flip-flop. We may be getting there. We actually would possibly.
These are at all times enjoyable saloon conversations in and round New York, however the truth is we don’t see such seismic adjustments a lot. Baseball, sure: Baseball in New York has modified arms a number of occasions by the years. John McGraw’s Giants have been the unparalleled kings of Gotham, unchallenged, throughout all the first twenty years of the twentieth century, however at the same time as they remained the superior product by beating the Yankees within the 1921 and ’22 World Series, the Yankees had Babe Ruth by then, and have been the unchallenged princes of the city for the following 40-plus years (the Dodgers, for all their nostalgia, by no means did fairly emerge as the highest canine, one unstated cause why L.A. was so interesting to then).
The Mets got here alongside and wrestled the city away from the Yankees between 1964-75. The Yankees got here again with a vengeance, dominating the Mets from ’76-83, then the Mets got here again themselves, rising as high baseball canine from 1984-91 or so. But since 1992, it has been a Yankees city, even throughout these the Mets’ pockets of prosperity.
Football has by no means actually been shut. In Joe Namath’s heyday, which we are able to roughly bookend from 1966 or so by 1974, the Jets did attain eye contact with the Yankees — frequently promoting out Shea Stadium, profitable a title using probably the most well-known soccer participant on the planet. But even then, and even because the Giants endured a slew of depressing seasons, you couldn’t discover a Giants ticket. They have been nonetheless the alpha canine. Even Namath admitted as a lot in 1970: “It’s a Giants town. But we make people think twice.”
Hockey? The Islanders and Devils each constructed dynasties, the Isles within the ’80s and the Devils within the late ’90s and early 2000s. But they by no means actually got here shut to ever usurping the Rangers, who nonetheless solely have the one Stanley Cup to present for all of the years going again to 1940.
It’s by no means appeared remotely doable the Nets might rule the roost right here. And perhaps they received’t now, both. But if not now … when?
Every 4 years round this time I’m overcome by the urge to discover my dog-eared copy of “What it Takes,” the everlasting Richard Ben Cramer accounting of the making of the modern-day presidency. And I’m by no means dissatisfied by the duty.
The nominations are closed: If you noticed the phantom offensive go interference name on the finish of the Minnesota-Purdue recreation Friday evening, then you definitely noticed the worst referee/official/umpire name of the 12 months. And perhaps of all time.
Seems like should you curse-out your boss the way in which that Marc Colombo apparently did, then getting fired for it is perhaps the least shocking a part of your work week, no?
Bronx or Queens, it might be a wry cool factor to have the option to watch Charlie Morton (under) pitch in New York subsequent 12 months — and not solely as a result of each time I watch him throw a pitch, it’s superb how a lot his supply recollects the late, nice Roy Halladay’s.
Whack Back At Vac
Jerry Vogel: Your column on baseball playing cards put a smile on my face, remembering what number of Roger Maris playing cards I had. How many fathers had to clarify to their children what flipping and scaling was? Ruined too many corners hitting the wall.
Vac: Every recreation of scaling and flipping knocked a few cents and nickels off the back-end worth of these playing cards … and we didn’t care! Reckless youth …
Scott Wolinetz: Robinson Cano ought to have a look at the upside. Should he by no means play baseball again, at the very least he simply certified himself for a gig within the studio with Fox or ESPN.
Vac: As a sensible man as soon as crooned: “Always look on the bright side of life …”
@DFlex2123: I really feel unhealthy for Klay Thompson. He’s one of many few likable stars who is straightforward to take pleasure in. What terrible luck. Can he come again from this?
@MikeVacc: Man, I positive hope so since you’re proper: He is perhaps probably the most pleasing participant within the NBA to watch, and to root for.
Leonard Savino: My first response to the Robinson Cano information was that the Mets received a “get of jail free card” with this. An further 10 or so million for Steve Cohen to have mendacity round? There’s work to be finished. He and Sandy have to get it proper and get the best guys, however they’re in a singular place to construct a juggernaut of a crew this offseason. Truly make them perennial contenders.
Vac: I do assume the Mets want to deal with the second of these issues earlier than the primary, however they do appear to be, as Red Barber would have put it, sitting within the catbird’s seat.