EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Nets versus Knicks is not a rivalry, Nets guard Jarrett Jack said yesterday. Not a real one, anyway.
“I think what creates a rivalry is constant competitive games, constantly played at a high level,’’ Jack said. “I think that’s what makes it. The last time you played them, you remember that feeling of what it felt like to have to compete against this team at a super-high level for 48 minutes.’’
Talking to reporters after practice Thursday, as the Nets prepared to face their Manhattan neighbors Friday night in Madison Square Garden, Jack acknowledged that the proximity of the teams to one another makes it natural that games between the teams should be important to the fans. But to create a rivalry between the players, both teams have to get better and the games have to mean more.
He’d be happy if that was the case, by the way.
“Yeah, why not? It makes the game fun,’’ he said.
He recalled being a player in college at Georgia Tech, and how intense — and fun — the games were against rival Georgia. He particularly remembers intentionally bumping Georgia player Jarvis Hayes (a former Net) walking toward the bench during a timeout, then having Hayes bump him back during the next timeout.
“I was like, ‘This is kind of cool! I like this,’ ’’ he said. “After the game was over, it was like, ‘Man, that was fun. See you all again same time next year.’ ’’
Nets coach Lionel Hollins had downplayed the rivalry with the Knicks after Wednesday’s practice, but yesterday he admitted there is some extra juice to the matchup.
“I just said yesterday nobody was fired up because we just played the night before [a win over Phoenix on Tuesday],’’ Hollins said. “They weren’t thinking about the Knicks at that point. But I think everybody will be fired up Friday night. It’ll be exciting. It’s great for the city, it’s great for both organizations. It’s a lot of fun.’’
Jack said he loves playing at the Garden, and he did admit beating the Knicks would be nice because he is tired of hearing it from Knicks fans around the city.
“I was doing some Christmas shopping yesterday, and the guy that was helping me was like, ‘Yeah, thanks for your business, but tomorrow, you know, it’s on!’ ’’ Jack said. “We just got a lot of Knicks people like to say a lot of stuff to us, so if I can just get a little slick comeback to them personally — we might not have the last laugh overall — but if I can just quickly get them out of my way, then I’m all right.’’