When the Nets were not very good, or at least on the precipice of relevancy, their sights extended only as far as Madison Square Garden. They may have said otherwise, but that's the reality.
The "Knicks" emerged as a bad word in the halls of the Barclays Center, and forget about seeing a West coast game televised on MSG Network as beat writers hustled to beat the clock.
And the common response among fans (even some writers) is this: The Nets' fanbase isn't as big so their success isn't as important. What a load.
Teams ranging across sports from the Los Angeles Clippers, New Jersey Devils, New York Mets to name a few have endured the same rubbish. It's a time-tested tradition among fans. But that's not the reality.
Even if a fanbase consists of one fan, that's enough to enjoy the memories produced by one's cherished team.
With the team the Nets will trot out this season in Brooklyn, the goals should extend far beyond a perceivably inferior Knicks team. Hypothetically, sweeping the Knicks in the first round only to get swept by the Heat a mere week later marks a failed season.
"Best team in New York? Since when did they hand out a trophy for winning that title? The Nets have never won an NBA championship, and the Knicks haven’t won one since 1973, which feels like forever. Players from both teams need to aim a little higher.
"Somehow I don’t think LeBron James ever cared about winning the Florida state championship once he signed with the Miami Heat."
The Nets have their fans; The Knicks have theirs. The Knicks, in fact, have more of them, but that does not in any way diminish what the Nets accomplish. Should they accomplish anything at all in 2013-14.
The Nets' trash talk is not necessarily needed to fuel the 30 or so players in New York but more so the Brooklyn fans.
This is a fanbase accustomed to mediocrity and disappointment. Remember Devin Harris or Jordan Farmar ever talking out of turn to the media. Me either.
Their motto, as with their teammates, was to atone for their sins and hightail it out of the locker room and as far away from the arena as possible.
What a refreshing change in Brooklyn. But don't mistake the trash talk as some sort of barometer for where the city stands. The Knicks will always have more fans, and they should because they have far more history and first laid claim on the city. That doesn't mean the Nets won't assemble their legions and create their own history.
That history begins with beating the NBA's best, and not just the Knicks.