Shaq expects rivalry to heat up

NEW YORK -- As the Nets enter their first season in Brooklyn, plenty of New Yorkers are wondering if the Big Apple ever will be a Nets town.

Future Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal doesn't think so.

"No, probably not," O'Neal told ESPNNewYork.com.

The big man likes what Brooklyn did in the offseason, particularly its re-signing of center Brook Lopez.

"Brooklyn got better," he said.

O'Neal also thinks 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."

O'Neal also said that Knicks great Patrick Ewing made the right decision when he turned down the Knicks' offer to coach its D-League affiliate, the Erie Bayhawks. According to a source, Ewing turned down the job because he wanted to remain in the NBA and, as an eight-year NBA assistant, he felt slighted by the offer.

"I think Pat made the correct decision not going to the D-League," O'Neal said. "He's done a lot for the organization and he wants to be a professional (NBA) coach. You have to look at the situation and say to yourself, 'Jacque Vaughn (the new Orlando Magic coach) gets a job before me?'

"So Pat did the correct thing. Hopefully one day a slot will open up for him."