Shaqueille O’Neal was in New York this week and he had a lot to say.
On the Brooklyn Nets one day being more popular in New York than the Knicks: “No, probably not,” O’Neal told ESPNNewYork.com.
The future Hall of Fame center agrees with the moves the Nets made to improve, especially the re-signing of center Brook Lopez ;
“Brooklyn got better,” he said.
O’Neal added that the Knicks-Nets rivalry will heat up now that Mikhail Prokhorov’s team is in Brooklyn.
“The good thing about (New Yorkers) is that they’re always excited, they’re very competitive,” said O’Neal, who attended the Yankees-Tampa Bay Rays game Friday night in the Bronx. “(So) I’m looking for the Nets-Knicks rivalry to amp up a little bit more this year.”
Prokhorov, the Nets’ owner, stirred up things in the East River rivalry recently when he called Knicks owner James Dolan “that little man” in a New York Magazine article.
The Knicks and Nets have engaged in a publicity war this offseason. They face off Nov. 1 at the new Barclays Center in both teams’ regular-season opener.
O’Neal thinks the Knicks’ stars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, need to take things “more personally” to succeed against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.
“I think when Carmelo plays against LeBron (James) and (Dwyane Wade) he should take it personally, like he’s always talked about last (among the three). When Amare plays against (Chris) Bosh he should take it personally,” O’Neal said. “That’s what I always used to do. I played against guys, I used to take it personally that you’re not talking about me.
“They need to do that. In order to beat Miami, they’ve got to.”
O’Neal said Anthony and Stoudemire have played “OK” in their season and a half together in New York. The Knicks have a sub-.500 record in games in which Anthony and Stoudemire have started.
“They’ve done OK. But in New York, OK is not good enough,” O’Neal said. “In order to have a legitimate 1-2 punch, OK is not good enough.
“Kobe Bryant and Shaq, we were OK in 1997, ’98, ’99. But it just wasn’t good enough. And then we both decided to become a little bit more aggressive, more dominant and it was OK.”