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Kevin Durant: ‘More animosity’ in Nets-Knicks Rivalry is ‘only good for the game’

Brooklyn Nets v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks rivalry took a big step when the Nets franchise relocated to Brooklyn a decade ago. Seven years later, in June of 2019, the interborough rivalry reached new heights when the Nets made the “Clean Sweep” signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. It turned a territorial rivalry into a rivalry of superstars and now after seven straight wins by the Brooklyns, those stars want to see it blossom ... like a mushroom cloud.

Since Durant and Irving chose Brooklyn over New York, the Nets hold a commanding 9-2 regular season record over the Knicks. The two losses Brooklyn suffered were during the 2019-20 season — the season Durant sat the entire year recovering from his Achilles injury.

KD extended his personal winning streak against the Knicks to seven games Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden in front of a sold-out crowd of 19,812. The contest also marked the first time Durant and Irving finally shared the MSG hardwood together as a duo ... and not as Knicks as their fanbase had hoped. After falling behind by 21 points, Brooklyn pulled out another improbable comeback propelled by Durant’s 13-point, nine-board, six-assist fourth-quarter play and his fourth triple double as a Net...

Post-game, though, the conversation turned to fandom. First, he spoke to ESPN about how the presence of so many Brooklyn fans at MSG — propelled by a healthy contingent of Brooklyn Brigade members — and how things are changing in the city.

“We know there were a lot of Nets fans here. This city is divided. There are more Knick fans than Nets but I feel we’re coming up there. We get more fans each and every year. It’s a good atmosphere.”

When Durant, who enjoys engaging and combatting with all manner of fans on Twitter, was told about his 7-0 record against the Knicks as a member of the Nets, he was thrilled. He pumped both of his fists and flashed that superstar smile.

“I got something to talk about on Twitter now,” Durant said.

Ever since Durant burned the Knicks fans hopes of finally landing a superstar and turned their long, long-awaited championship aspirations to dust, the Nets superstar hasn’t shied away from clapping back and dueling with the blue-and-orange fan base on social media. Durant joked that he knows Knickerbocker fans are still pissed at his decision that went Brooklyn’s way.

“I mean, imagine the tweets I’ve been getting since I decided to come to the Nets,” Durant said. “Knicks fans are still pissed off about stuff I say. Little jabs here and there. Like I said, there’s always love in the streets when I see the Knicks fans. Always love at the games. It’s a good rivalry to be a part of...

“It’s all fun at the end of the day, it’s all funny, but people respect my decision.,” Durant said. “They respect my game, but I understand how big Knicks-Nets is in the city so I’m just trying to embrace it.”

Even before the game, he was trolling and recruiting ...

The two franchises are headed in two different directions. Brooklyn, now with their second-straight season-series sweep over their cross-town rival, is chasing its first elusive championship while New York’s season will end on Sunday, April 10, after being eliminated from playoff contention. Their next big day will be the NBA Draft Lottery on May 17, from bing bong to ping pong. With KD and Kyrie, the Nets have now stretched their all-time lead to 105-101 against the Knicks. Before Durant and Irving took their talents to Brooklyn, that record favored New York.

Durant isn’t just about trolling Knick fans. He’s about encouraging and cheering on those who cheer him on.

“Everybody that steps in our building gonna realize how big these games are. It felt like a home game to us the last two times in the Garden and it feels like a home game to the Knicks when they come to Barclays,” Durant said in yet another tribute to the Brigade. “That’s what basketball is all about. Stuff like that and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”

Durant argued the more that animosity grows the better it will be ... for basketball.

“We know how much Knicks fans don’t like us,” Durant said. “Especially now in this era, with us not choosing the Knicks, me and Kyrie [Irving]. It definitely adds something to the rivalry no matter who is on the team. You know, I think it will always be like that in the city. It’s good to be a part of this.

“It’s a fun rivalry. Hopefully, it continues to build. If we get more and more animosity between the fan bases, it’s only good for the game.”

Irving, who scored 24 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists in Wednesday’s comeback win, was into it all as well. He briefly got into it at halftime with a Knicks fan as he was walking into the tunnel.

After the contest, the Nets guard spoke about the incident, what the anonymous fan said to him and why it sparked him to fire back.

“People just yelling random s—t from the crowd,” he told the media. “They wanted a reaction, they got one. I think I tapped the wrong person ... Somebody said something. I was just fed up with our performance.”

Then, following Patty Mills’ daggerish 27-foot 3-pointer swished through the Nets to put Brooklyn up by 10 with a minute left, Irving waved goodbye to the MSG crowd. Punctuation.

When Irving was asked post-game about his decision to sign with the Nets over the Knicks, he said — “I throw darts in the air and just wait for people to assume whatever they want.” He went on to explain how New York had a shot of landing him and Durant but the luxury of building something special in Brooklyn made the decision easy.

“They had a good chance of getting us back in free agency, but we just felt like we wanted to build here and just make our mark on this franchise,” Irving stated. “I don’t think we regret our decision, and we just want to live with really leaning on each other and making sure this is successful for us.”

He spoke as well about “raising a few banners” in Brooklyn.

The Nets-Knicks rivalry is slowly becoming a basketball rivalry the City of New York or the league hasn’t seen in a very long time. In Durant’s eyes, it opens up the potential to build a unique basketball culture in the city that will resonate for years to come.

“No matter the records. No matter who is on the court. No matter who coaches us. It’s always going to be one of those games. A tough, physical game. The 48 minutes no matter what, it’s going to be play hard. It’s going to be an up-and-down rivalry,” Durant said. “We’re going to win some. They’re going to win some and lose some, and vice-versa.

“I think it’s going to build our own little basketball culture here in the city, which is going to be fun. Knicks and Nets fans, at the end of the day, it’s all New York. It’s good to have that rivalry.”