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Five Compelling Storylines in a Budding Knicks-Nets Rivalry

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COMMENTARY | What does the title of a famous George Orwell book and the year in which a famous quartet of Hall of Famers -- Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton -- were drafted have in common with the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets?

Well, the last time the Knicks and Nets each won a playoff series in the same season was nearly three decades ago, in 1984.

While it's quite possible that next season the two franchises could meet for a third time in the first round since that year (after squaring off in 1994 and 2004), they could just as likely end their long streak of not having simultaneously postseason success and play each other in a later round of the 2014 NBA playoffs.

That alone would have New York City buzzing next spring.

Yet, even long before that possibility might come to fruition, some underlying subplots could greatly enliven the newly created Battle of the Boroughs along the way.

5. Jason Kidd: From Former Nets and Knicks Player to Nets Rookie Head Coach

Long before the Nets' move from New Jersey to Brooklyn, Jason Kidd was the face of the Nets franchise during the only period that the team was a legitimate NBA title contender. Last year, he was a significant piece in helping the New York edge Brooklyn out for a division title -- the Knicks' first in 19 years -- before retiring from the league as a player.

That history, along with the Kidd trying to learn on the job as a first-time coach and his first-hand knowledge of New York's game plans, will be interesting side notes anytime the Knicks and Nets square off, especially if such a meeting occurs in the postseason.

4. The Carmelo Anthony-Kevin Garnett Rivalry Becomes an All-New York Thing

Forwards Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett had some heated personal battles in Anthony's time as a Knick and with Garnett playing for the Boston Celtics.

Last year, there were the infamous Honey Nut Cheerios and team bus incidents (as I detailed here and here) during and immediately following the Boston's win in New York on January 7.

Garnett not only sharing the same division but also the same city as Anthony, while representing Anthony's birthplace of Brooklyn, should intensify the enmity between the two stars even more.

3. The Trash Talking Has Already Started

Other than the obvious ingredient of having each organization being good, few things fuel a good rivalry more than some good old-fashioned trash talking.

Forget waiting until next season, or even training camp for that to begin with the Knicks and Nets. Yes, long before they compete fiercely on the basketball floor, the teams have already launched an early war of words -- and that's even before the league's ultimate trash talker, Garnett, has joined the fray.

First, there was Metta World Peace's tweet playfully teasing his new cross-town rivals, by asking "Where Brooklyn at?" moments after New York officially announced a league homecoming for the Queensbridge, New York, native, whom the Knicks passed over in the 1999 NBA draft.

To answer World Peace's rhetorical question in a literal sense, it's a little over five miles between the teams' arenas -- a close proximity that could embolden the rivalry even more.

Just three days after World Peace's remark, career-long Knick killer (with Boston), Paul Pierce, fired the first real salvo between New York and Brooklyn when he intentionally left the Knicks out while naming four Eastern Conference contenders (including the Nets).

It should be noted that while mentioning what Pierce and World Peace could add to flaring up the hostilities between their new teams, there is a bit of a history between the two players, one that even included some shoving before the opening tipoff of a game between Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers.

About three weeks after Pierce's omission of New York as a contender, he admitted, "I think the hate [for the Knicks] has grown a little. Everybody knows how much I disliked the Knicks when I was with the Celtics, but I think it's grown to another level … this is probably gonna be the best rivalry in sports."

Last week, Pierce went even further, saying he hated the Knicks "with a passion," while adding, "It's no secret that me and New York got history … it's going to be what it was, but now on steroids. Now that I'm here ... it's going from Knicks Town to Nets Village. It's our time."

Knicks guard J.R. Smith had a far different take, saying, "[The Nets] have a great chance to compete for a title, but we're still the marquee team in New York."

Likewise, Smith's teammate, Raymond Felton, paid little heed to Pierce's warning. "I don't really pay no attention to what Paul is saying," Felton said. "It's all fun and games to me … they've got 'Brooklyn' on their chest and we've got 'New York.' They'll never take over the city."

2. Which New Mix Will Mesh Better?

Each team made significant strides last season. Brooklyn ended a string of five straight losing seasons while winning its most games (49) in seven years and setting a franchise record for road victories (23). New York, meanwhile, not only captured its long-awaited division championship, but it also won its most games in 16 years and a playoff series for the first time in 13 seasons.

But neither the Knicks nor Nets rested on those laurels, because they couldn't afford to, with Miami winning its second straight NBA title last year, and Indiana and Chicago each expected to be able to compete at that type of level in the Eastern Conference next year.

Thus, besides adding Garnett, Pierce, and Jason Terry (who might seek payback after being elbowed by Smith in last year's playoffs), the Nets got even deeper with the supplementary acquisitions of Andrei Kirilenko, Alan Anderson, and 2013 first-round pick Mason Plumlee, to join the solid, already-existing core of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans.

Will that be enough to offset the Knicks' response of adding World Peace, Andrea Bargnani, 2013 draftee Tim Hardaway Jr., Beno Udrih, Jeremy Tyler, and perhaps C.J. Leslie, to a returning group that includes defending scoring champion Carmelo Anthony, Smith (the NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year) Felton, Iman Shumpert, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Pablo Prigioni?

We'll see, but it will be fascinating to find out.

1. The Fight for the Atlantic Division Crown Will Probably Go Exclusively Though NYC

With Boston's aforementioned trio moving south to create a hybrid team that I like to call the Bostklyn CeltNets (and its former coach, Doc Rivers, going across the country to join the Los Angeles Clippers), that group's old Celtics squad has since joined fellow Atlantic Division members, the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors, in rebuilding mode.

Simply by default, that leaves the Knicks and Nets as very likely the only teams with realistic shots to win the division. That revolutionary notion coming at a time when the Nets are no longer in New Jersey's Meadowlands, but entering their second year in Brooklyn's new Barclays Center -- a mere 20-minute subway ride from Manhattan's Madison Square Garden -- will certainly amplify the excitement throughout the NBA's biggest market as the upcoming season progresses.

Whatever Happens, It Should Be Fun

As we saw in the Pacific Division last year, even the best plans could fall apart for either the Knicks or Nets, like when the Clippers controlled Los Angeles as their Staples Center co-tenants, the Lakers, failed to compete at the same level despite assembling what appeared to be a legitimate contender on paper.

More likely, though, New York and Brooklyn appear to be a collision course for a highly competitive and very heated race to own both the Atlantic Division and their shared city.

And whichever side you're on -- whether for Manhattan and the Knicks, or with Brooklyn and the Nets -- or even as a fan of another team from anywhere across the country, there seem to be even more interesting storylines yet to be written in New York City next season.

Jonathan Wagner is a regular Knicks contributor for Yahoo! Sports, a Knicks beat writer for New York Sports Day and a co-host discussing the Knicks and other sports topics on the New York Sports Geeks internet radio show. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanJWagner.

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