New York is quickly becoming a hotbed for successful professional basketball.
It wasn't long ago that the New York Knicks and the Nets were among the worst teams in the Eastern Conference. In the 2009-2010 season, the Knicks finished with 29 wins, while the Nets, then in New Jersey, won just 12, after flirting with the worst record in NBA history.
Things have dramatically changed for the better in New York in 2012-2013.
The Knicks are coming off one of their best victories in quite some time. On Thursday, New York defeated the Heat in Miami, 112-92. Playing without frontcourt stars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks were able to defeat their most formidable conference challenger, and did it in convincing fashion.
At 14-4, the Knicks currently have the best record in the East. Head coach Mike Woodson is the early favorite for Coach of the Year, as a demanding fan base that once shouted in Madison Square Garden "Fire Isiah" for Isiah Thomas, are suddenly enamored with the Knicks.
Across the river in Brooklyn, the Nets boast an entertaining squad with hot-selling uniforms in a brand new arena. The Nets have the fourth-best record in the East, as the additions of Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace have propel the Nets into an elite Eastern Conference team.
Brook Lopez is expected to be an All-Star, as the big man has recovered from injuries and is averaging 18.5 points per game while shooting better than 53 percent from the field.
A rather uninspired fan base in New Jersey has been replaced by an energized collection of sports enthusiasts at Barclays Center. Perhaps the biggest obstacle for Brooklyn might be the success of their local rival. Both clubs are competing for the spotlight, and this season could be pivotal to gaining the support of undecided fans in the metropolis.
The Nets got the early edge when they defeated the Knicks on Nov. 26 in overtime, 96-89. The two teams meet again on Tuesday, but the Nets will have a rather manageable two-game tune up when they host the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks.
The Knicks face tougher competition before they face Brooklyn, when they play the Chicago Bulls and Denver Nuggets. But the Knicks may still have the luxury of playing with the momentum of defeating the Heat on the road, and shorthanded.
While many basketball headlines have surrounded the two clubs that play at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the tide appears to be changing. ESPN has increased its coverage on the Knicks, while the Lakers have failed to lived up to lofty preseason expectations.
New York basketball has come a long way.