I'd like to thank James Dolan, his evil empire and Time Warner Cable. As a New Yorker for fifteen years, this was the year I was going to become a full time Knicks fan. I was fully prepared to commit myself to watching as many games as I could. The team was poised to build upon their first-round playoff exit last season. I couldn't wait to watch the Speedball offense, the Broadway Bigs (Melo, Chandler, Amare) and B-Diddy (the combo of Baron Davis/Mike Bibby at the point) gel as a team and bring back fireworks to Madison Square Garden. I downloaded and studied the new schedule, ready to immerse myself in all things Knickerbockers. I was all in.
Then WW3 broke out between the MSG Network and Time Warner Cable over a fee dispute of a proposed whopping 53 percent fare hike for MSG subscribers. Unfortunately my building is not wired for Verizon FIOS so, along with 2.8 million other people, I now live in a perpetual Rangers and Knicks blackout. To paraphrase the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld: No Knicks for You!
Forced to get my b-ball fix from another source, I discovered that the NBA TV Network had taken the place of MSG Network on Channel 27. Thinking I would just watch for a few minutes then continue channel surfing, I was surprised when a close Cavs/Heat game pulled me in. Another night, it was a battle for LA with a Clippers vs. Lakers game. Next a magically exciting Memphis/Clips game appeared. I was hooked.
Previously a helicopter NBA playoff fan I rarely watched many games in the regular season. I usually only swooned over the superstars that littered the TV during the playoffs -- Paul Pierce, Pau Gasol, Kobe, Dirk, Dwight Howard, LeBron, D-Wade. These were the players I knew of, had seen play and rooted for.
Given the Knicks 7-13 record, James Dolan and company are actually doing me a favor. I didn't have to watch the one point Melo game or the dismal shooting performances of Iman Shumpert or Toney Douglas. I've been spared wincing through the club's attempt at playing big league defense.
Now that I have succumbed to my sports fanaticism and started watching regular season games, I have discovered many new players from the flyover states. Who knew the Grizzlies had a player on the team from Iran? Or that Kevin Love (who??) was deserving of a $60 million contract extension with Minnesota?
It's a whole new brave world out there outside of the big city. Here are five observations and questions:
1. The Memphis Grizzlies new uniforms are yellow on top and green on the bottom. Is that allowed in the Haus of David Stern? Was he too busy blocking the CP3 trade to the Lakers when someone green-lighted the unis?
2. How magnificent is the new look Clippers? I want to Occupy Lob City
3. The NBA discovered the Internet!??! Pop-up tweets pepper the screen in the down times during a game from people like Ernie Johnson in the studio or Doc Rivers' son who begged his dad to put him into the lineup when the team was losing. Does this mean the players will now be allowed to tweet during half-time or time-outs?
4. TNT has a new American Idol-Style stage where Kenny the Jet can excitedly bounce around in front of and review plays of game tape. I have a request: Can he sing 'Benny and the Jets', or 'Everyone Wang Chung Tonight' up there? I'm good with either.
5. One thing that hasn't changed: Craig Sager still has the market cornered on the ugliest blazers in the history of television
I owe a debt of gratitude to all the greedy people who wanted to exponentially up the carriage
charges for us poor suckers to watch the hometown team. If they had come to an agreement to
force me to pay more for a bad product, I would not have discovered there is life outside of the Big Apple when it comes to sports. Shhh, just don't tell Giants fans that.