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Knicks vs. Nets — Battle of the Boroughs: "Is there a rivalry?"

No. No, there isn't Isaiah.

Stephon Marbury Takes Part In Read to Acheive Photo by Jennifer E. Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images

Last time I checked, the Brooklyn Nets were leading the Battle of the Boroughs head-to-head matchup against the New York Knicks. That was back in March 2023, the record being 107-103 in the record of the former New Jersey gentlemen.

Of course, no more games have been played since then, with the Knicks having won the last two of them.

That’s no joke, folks; the Nets had won nine in a row before. Not coincidentally, that nine-game winning streak coincided with what all y’all reading this know better than me: KD and Kyrie being on the Nets' payroll.

Now, that’s a bit half-true, or at least doesn’t tell the whole story. The first two games between NYK and BKN after Durant and Irving chose Brooklyn instead of Manhattan ended in wins for the men in Orange and Blue.

Then we flipped the calendar year to 2021 and things changed for the next 24 months with no Knicks win until they broke the streak last February, blocking the Nets from reaching double-digit wins against their “rivals.”

“Is there a rivalry?” That’s what Isaiah Hartenstein, he of the 17 rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, replied to those asking him on Monday about the upcoming matchup between Knicks and Nets scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 20, at Barclays Center.

“I mean, I don’t feel it,” Hartenstein said candidly. “Most of the time we go to Barclays it’s mostly Knicks fans so I don’t know if it’s really a rivalry at this point.”

That’s the thing.

The Nets manufactured a narrative built around two superstars-for-hire during a couple of seasons in which they never truly contended, were happy beating their presumed intracity “rivals,” and then proceeded to collapse as they know to do best.

It’s funny that the Knicks are facing Brooklyn after returning from a West Coast trip in which they were able to experience the same from the other side: Lakers and Clippers, Hallway Series, Battle of L.A. Yeah, right.

As Denzel once said, “King Kong ain’t got shit on me.” Or as LeBron put it, “they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today.”

Harteinstein knows better than anyone. He was a member of Clip Nation for a season, enduring the pain of playing for a minnow (funnily enough he was 4-0 against the Lake Show that season). Now, as a member of the Knicks, he has experienced how it feels not to play for the underdog.

Lakers fans flocked the Staples in Clippers “home games” back then. The same happens when Knicks fanatics book a day off to attend matchups at Barclays Center.

Whether I-Hart will be the starting center for the Knicks tonight or still come off the pine is unknown at the time of this writing as I’m typing these words at 7 a.m. Knowing Thibs, we won’t know until 30 minutes before tip-off with Jerich Sims banged up but pretty much in the coach’s mind as his preferred option as the starting big man.

“I’m gonna let you all talk about that,” Hartenstein said. “I’m not going to get into that.”

With the West Coast trip over, Julius Randle sounded pleased with the Knicks results entering the final game played away from MSG before hosting the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday (noon ET), then once more on a Christmas matinee (12:30 pm ET).

”We very easily could look at every game and be like ‘We could have won.’ But to come here and go 2–2 and have a chance to finish above .500 on the road is big,” Randle acknowledged.

These two franchises might find themselves fighting each other while trying to poach another coveted player (tip: he probably doesn’t want to but he currently plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers) soon enough, but for now the “rivalry” will stay strictly on-court business.

No more Pacific zone tip-off times till March. Tip-off at 7:30 pm ET. Knicks at Nets. No excuses for missing it.