Knicks’ J.R. Smith: Paul Pierce will ‘pay’ for comments about Nets taking over New York
The war of words over New York City professional basketball supremacy continues.
Knicks guard J.R. Smith is the latest to pop off in response to comments made by new Nets forward Paul Pierce, who suggested earlier this month that it was time for Brooklyn to “start running this city.”
“I just look at him as a bitter person just getting out of Boston,” Smith told ESPNNY.com. “He doesn’t really know what New York is all about. He’s been playing in Boston his whole career. … He just knows, just know that his words have consequences and he’s going to have to pay for them.”
Those comments from the NBA’s reigning Sixth Man of the Year follow similar statements from Knicks point guard Raymond Felton.
“Paul Pierce said the Nets are gonna take over the city,” Felton said, according to Newsday. “It’s hard for you to take over the city when we’ve got ‘New York’ on our chest and you’ve got ‘Brooklyn’ on yours. It’s been this way since long before he started playing.”
ESPNNY.com reported that Felton also declared: “They will never take over the city. [Pierce] saying that is just him talking. At the end of the day, it’s all about rivalries. We understand that — he knows that, I know that. He’s just trying to fuel it.”
Pierce, who was traded by the Celtics to the Nets along with Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry in July, has taken shots at the Knicks on at least two occasions.
He first laid out his takeover plans in an interview with 98.7 FM radio in New York.
“I think the hate, it’s grown a little,” Pierce said. “Everybody knows how much I dislike the Knicks as a Celtic but it’s grown to a whole nother level. Now, it’s like crosstown, over the bridge, this is the rivalry. This is really the rivalry. … I think it’s time for the Nets to start running this city.”
The 10-time All-Star followed that up with comments in a Complex.com interview in which he referred to himself as “the Knick killer.”
“[I hate the Knicks] with a passion,” Pierce said. “Let’s start it up right now. Let’s start the beef. It’s no secret that me and New York got history. It’s no secret. This is no secret. It’s already known.”
In that interview, Pierce also conceded that the Knicks, who were founded in 1946 and won titles in 1970 and 1973, currently hold a “70-30″ advantage among fans in New York, but said that the Nets are “gonna push that the other way.”
The Knicks eliminated the Celtics from the first round of the 2013 playoffs, marking the franchise’s first playoff series win since 2000. Smith was ejected from Game 3 and suspended from Game 4 of the series for delivering an elbow to Terry. The Nets were eliminated from the first round of the 2013 playoffs by the Bulls.
Last season, New York finished atop the Atlantic Division with 54 wins, capturing the No. 2 seed. Brooklyn won 49 games, finishing second in the division. New York and Brooklyn split the season series 2-2.
All four of this year’s meetings between the crosstown rivals will be nationally televised. The first will take place on Dec. 5, when the Knicks travel to Brooklyn for a game that will be shown on TNT. New York will host Brooklyn on Jan. 20 and April 2, with both games airing on ESPN. Finally, the Nets will host the Knicks on April 15 on TNT.
The Nets, who joined the NBA in 1976 and played in New Jersey from 1977 to 2012, relocated to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center from Newark’s Prudential Center in advance of the 2012-13 season. The two franchises engaged in a back-and-forth with billboards in each other’s backyards before the move. Last week, the New York Post reported that NBA commissioner David Stern set up a “very cordial and pleasant” meeting with Knicks owner James Dolan and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov in an effort to calm the developing storm between the two teams. The meeting reportedly took place early in the 2012-13 season.