Monday, August 01, 2005

Just How Important is New York to the NBA?

The Knicks were this big in the 90s

By Anthony Peretore

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten into a sports conversation with a complete stranger and the dialogue somehow turns into, "Yeah sorry, I don’t really follow the NBA, frankly, I think it sucks." What do I say to that? "Um yeah, my buddy and I run a NBA website on top of working full-time jobs, make approximately $0 a week from it, but yeah, I think it sucks too." Often times I’m left feeling like I just had a debate about abortion rather than a discussion concerning the NBA. Living between Boston and New York City, I have found that in both areas, basketball (along with hockey) has clearly become one of the two most unpopular professional sports. These being two of the largest sports markets in the country, it represents an accurate reflection of how pretty much every fan in the U.S. feels today. I could see if this had always been the case, but growing up in the 1990s, both the NBA and, to a lesser degree, NHL were prominent fixtures in our sporting world. So the question is, what has happened over the last decade or so to drastically drain the popularity of these two leagues? In my eyes, the obvious answer has to be the failure of both the New York Knicks and New York Rangers. Since hockey really doesn’t matter anymore, for this argument we will focus on the Knicks, a team currently among the laughing stocks of the NBA, but in the 90s a vital piece to its league’s success. Don’t remember? Not many do.

Growing up a Celtics fan, I never really hated the Knicks, just decided somewhere along the road that I’d rather root for Bird and co. than Kiki and co—can you really blame me? But when those bad ass New York teams began to evolve in the early-90s, I couldn’t help but find myself curious as to how they were seemingly capturing the attention of the entire sporting world. They began making a name for themselves during the 1992 playoffs when they took the defending champion Bulls to a Game 7 in the Conference Semifinals. Patrick Ewing and John Starks served as the main catalysts that year with Xavier McDaniel, Charles Oakley, and Anthony Mason providing an element of toughness that "put hair on your chest" when you watched them. Despite losing to Chicago that season, the NBA world expected this team to be back. In 1992-93, the Knicks didn’t disappoint, finishing with the best record in the Eastern Conference (60-22) and eventually advancing to a Playoffs rematch with Bulls—this time in the Conference Finals. New York even managed to establish a 2-0 series lead, but one that quickly evaporated and saw the Bulls heading back to the Finals to capture their third straight Title. Frustrated, sure, but with Michael Jordan leaving the game in ‘93-94 to swing baseball bats (or to serve his suspension for gambling?), the door was swung wide open for New York to finally reach their glory—or so we thought. But even with Jordan out of their way, the Knicks once again fell short, this time losing a 7-game series to the Houston Rockets in the Finals. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen, but despite never capturing a NBA Title in the 90s, New York served a larger role in that decade than one may think.

The Starks' dunk highlighted the Knicks-Bulls Rivalry

Looking back at an era that was facing the loss of both Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, many of us simply recognize Jordan as the sole reason for the NBA’s ability to flourish as perhaps the most popular sport of the 90s. While MJ’s role as a sports figure and the Bulls’ reign atop the league may never be replicated, the Knicks also served as an extremely important part in the league’s success. 1990-1993, all Jordan, all Bulls, right? For the most part yes, but remember that the Playoff series Chicago played against the Knicks were two of the most exciting battles of that era. That rivalry established between the two arguably made Chicago a tougher and hungrier competitor as the years wore on. Not only that, but as the Bulls were just beginning their dynasty and capturing the attention of the entire Midwest, it appeared as if the Knicks were doing the same back East (sans trophies). When Jordan left the game in 1993, the focus of the league quickly swayed to the Knicks, their continued quest for a Title, and a newfound rivalry with Reggie Miller and the Pacers. In making it to the Finals that year, New York kept the fans interested while Jordan went about his baseball career. It’s easy to forget that two-year span where the Bulls suffered because of Jordan’s absence and even easier to forget how the Knicks took up the slack—because they of course, never took home the hardware.

Should have stuck with basketball Mike

When Jordan decided to return (or his suspension ended?), the Bulls went on to win three more championships before he retired for a second time in 1998. What happened then? The Knicks made it back to the Finals in the lockout-shortened 98-99 season, only to fall short once again due largely in part to Ewing’s torn Achilles’. While one can go research the 1990s and find the Bulls winning six times and the Knicks constantly falling short, trust me, New York was much more competitive and vital to the league than any records can show you. Despite their failure to bring home a Title, the attention of their fans was seemingly never thwarted, but rather enhanced. That quest for a championship continued to grow with each added failure, with a fan base returning each season carrying even more heart and dedication. At that time, the Bulls were Goliath, the Knicks David, but somehow New York never got the story right.

As fans we can’t help but look back and simply remember the champions—it’s part of our nature. Let me ask you though, would the 90s have been the same without the Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Braves? They were the perennial losers of that era, but teams that were clearly good enough to be in position to win in championship games. In the NBA, no one will ever forget the Bulls dynasty, but how many of us remember how competitive the Knicks were year in and year out? How many of us will remember that Jordan’s selfishness to leave the game in 1993 (whether due to his desire to play baseball or his gambling addiction) put the success and popularity of the sport in grave danger? Well just to refresh your memory, that collapse never happened because the New York Knicks didn’t let it. Though they aren’t listed with one of the ten NBA trophies of the 90s, they served a very important role in helping maintain the success of the league. Think Jordan was more vital to the NBA than the Knicks? Then how come even when MJ returned to the Wizards in 2001, the league was still suffering mightily? Maybe because every sport, not just the NBA, needs a perennial contender in New York to be successful. Think about it. Was the NHL ever more popular than in 1994 when the Rangers hoisted the Stanley Cup? The same could be said for 1996 and the Yankees. How about in 2000 when both New York teams squared off in the World Series? While it may not be evident how important the Knicks are to the NBA right now, when LeBron James is lacing them up in MSG two years from now and the popularity of the league is once again taking off, well just remember I told you so. And then in turn, try and remember the New York Knicks of the 1990s.

Not everyone can win this many...


At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting article, but a couple of points. First, the 2000 World Series between the Mets and Yankees did not do very well ratings wise. So, the theory that new york sports teams create higher national interest in sports leagues does not always pan out. Additionally, the NBA's popularity during the 1990s was both a product of the past success of 1980s stars, and the tarnished reputation of other sports leagues. The NFL for instance began its decline in the early 1980s and continued to have trouble because of strikes like the one in 1987. Baseball had continuous labor problems that are known to any sports fan.
In contrast, the NBA did not have the same labor conflict.
If new york knicks success was partially responsible for the better fortunes of the league, it was because the major networks (NBC, CBS, ABC) are based out of New York and therefore were increasing the exposure of the NBA because success of the knicks by having more "news" stories about the NBA.

At 7:38 PM, Blogger Rocke said...

To add to the other comment, baseball really didn't get ressurected popularity wise after the 1994 strike until 1998, when McGwire and Sosa juiced their way into America's hearts via the home run.

At 8:21 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

Very good points...But ratings don't mean anything to me really. So what, people across the country didn't watch the Yanks-Mets series, and why not? Because there was no question the Yankees would win. As far as what it did for baseball in terms of a fan following, it did wonders. But we're not talking about baseball here, were talking about the NBA. Your quote:
"the NBA's popularity during the 1990s was both a product of the past success of 1980s stars, and the tarnished reputation of other sports leagues," really doesn't make complete sense. Sure those factors contributed to the NBA's success partially but calling them the sole reasons is crazy. So if Jordan never existed and 10 different teams won titles in boring fashion ala San Antone, the sport would have had the same amount of success? Of course not. Without Jordan and the Knicks, the Midwest and East would have never gotten so into the NBA. Rivalries contributed highly to the NBA's success in the 90s and due in large part to its two best teams Chicago and New York. I'm in no way shooting down your points because they are very good, but we cannot give all the credit to the 80s stars and the lack of popularity among other sports. For one thing, football was beginning its rebirth with the Giants, Niners, and Cowboys all enjoying multiple successful seasons. Baseball wasn't down until '94, and hockey reached its peak in that same year. And the major networks work regionally, so saying the Knicks were aired more often really isn't a legit point either. Even if it was, who is going to like the Knicks more just because a few more highlights are shown of them per week?

As far as the second post goes, great point about Big Mac and Sammy. But what the Yankees did in 1996 was phenomenal. I'd argue that the sport began it's ressurection in the East at that point and the Midwest caught on during that homerun race. But again, I don't think baseball's problems contributed solely to the popularity of the NBA. There were many factors involved.

Thanks as always for writing in...

Oh yeah, and try to leave a name so I know who I'm addressing.

At 9:12 PM, Anonymous DX said...

Couple comments that I have to make partner--

1- Your argument that the NBA isn't as popular nowdays it entirely false. The NBA is more popular than it's ever been and I could dig up a slew of reasons to back it up. The NBA sold a record number of tickets this season; sold a record amount of merchandise; Finals TV ratings were down, but what major sport isn't suffering from declining ratings due to the explosion of cable television and the internet? If you want to talk about local telecasts and even worldwide, more people are watching the NBA now than ever before. Yeah, people aren't talking as much about the NBA in the East Coast, but that's because there hasn't been anything to talk about since those 90's Knicks teams. Sure the Celtics have been solid the last few years, but they're not exactly a team that stirs national interest like those 80's Celtics teams. You can't assume people in other parts of the country aren't talking about the NBA. You say, "These being two of the largest sports markets in the country, it represents an accurate reflection of how pretty much every fan in the U.S. feels today." That's an enormous assumption that simply isn't true. Take a look at the other half of the US-- you're suggesting that basketball isn't huge in Texas right now, where 3 legitimate contenders exist? You don't think fans are still non-stop talking about the NBA in Sacramento, Utah, and Portland-- 3 cities that continually sell out home games no matter how poorly their team is playing? The NBA is EVERYTHING in LA, Oakland and I think it's safe to say people are excited in Seattle and Phoenix as well. I think one major point you need to consider is that the NBA teams on the East Coast have had the spotlight stolen from them since the 90's. Suddenly people aren't talking about the Knicks because the Yankees are going deep in the Playoffs every year. And even if the Celtics have performed respectably, they've been nothing compared to the Red Sox and Patriots. And the Nets, well unfortunately they just don't exist. And as a fellow East Coaster, I agree that the popularity has subsided on this part of the country. I can't tell you how many people I've run in to that have came with, "Well, I used to be a pretty big Knicks fan, but I don't know. I've lost some interest." Those people are just like the people jumping all over the Yankees and Red Sox bandwagons now-- once the Knicks get back up to contender status, they'll win those fans over again.

2-- How could you write this article without even once mentioning the fact that Knicks fans DO have reason to celebrate again-- we've got Larry Brown! You want to talk about taking steps towards winning the fans back, this is the first step. Forget LeBron James, Larry Brown will give us enough to talk about for the next couple seasons that we'll have already been won over when LeBron contemplates packing his bags for Manhattan.

Anyways, interesting article, but be careful when you make major assumptions. DX

At 6:00 AM, Anonymous Mike Plugh said...

I have to agree with Anthony. I'll first say that I'm a Knick fan so there's a built in bias, but I do believe that the rivalry we had with the Bulls was a big reason the league swelled during the early 90's.

Of course the Pistons/Bulls rivalry is almost unbeatable because those teams featured dueling champions, as it turned out, and the guts of the Bad Boys tested the Bulls like no one else in the magical Bulls era.

The main reason that I agree with Anthony though, is that I FEEL the disgust with the NBA around the country. I think it's arguable that the league peaked during Jordan and that it's popularity has been in a steady decline ever since. The Lakers were never as popular across the board as Jordan's Bulls because Kobe was such an unpopular figure.

Little kids wore Kobe jerseys the same way that they wore Jordan jerseys, but the older the fan the more contempt for Bryant.

Now, with the Lakers broken up, there isn't a central team that people are in awe to watch. There are 30 teams (at least 10 too many, IMHO) and a diluted talent pool that prohibits power house teams. It takes a lot of skill to construct a dynasty these days.

I hear more fans of basketball saying "The NBA sucks" in 2005 than I've ever heard in my life. The ratings may skew well when you consider the amount of alternate media that exists, but the buzz on the street isn't the same. I have friends who are die-hard basketball fans. They sleep in jerseys and carry a rock everywhere they go, but they hate the league. They are Utah fans, Seattle fans, NY fans, Boston fans, and a large cross-section of other fans as well.

These people hate the league. They hate the half time crap and the multitude of Burger King Have It Your Way Halftime Report, Denny's Super Clutch Dish of the Day, Sizzler Prime Time Cut to the Hoop, Staples Day at the Office Scorecard nonsense.

I hate it too. That has nothing to do with the popularity of the Knicks, but I'll wrap by saying this. NY teams won't make a league popular on their own, but what they can do is carry a sport when it's identity is in question or it's popularity is in decline. When a NY team wins big, the media latches on, the fans get loud, and the whole world takes notice. That's why the NBA needs the Knicks right now, and that's why LeBron is destined to play in MSG. Watch.

At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Rom said...

Nice debate going on here, allow me to give my opinion as a european fan.
I think a lot of good points were made, especialy the one saying that if the teams from were you live don't play good basketball then the region won't be exited about this team. If I was from NY right now I'd be disapointed in basketball, and also in the US there are so many other big sports to watch so if your basketball team isn't doing good you're gonna support your baseball team, or hockey team or whatever. I am sure that people in phoenix are 100% into the nba right now, as well as people in miami or in texas.

Another good point is that the league needs a rivalry to get more exiting. this was the case with the magic/bird thing then bulls/pistons and bulls knicks. You can't have a great champion without a great adversity. After MJ left in 98, there was no such rivalry anywhere in the league, then in 2000 the lakers took over, but obviously the spurs/lakers rivalry never came close to the bulls/knicks. Also in those years it was so obvious that the lakers would win it was less interesting to watch. The supsens was not there really.

As i'm from europe i don't have MY team, well i'm a heat fan but if they suck i can easily get interested in other teams as well. I'm more a NBA fan and I'm after suspens and entertaining games. And I gotta say that from 2000 to 2003 the NBA was less interesting, because all the oldest stars were declining, there was no big rivalry and there was not that many young players that were very exiting. But now this is changing, with the explosion of great talents such as stoudamire, james or wade, and the face of the NBA is changing right now, and this is very exciting.

So basicly my point is that it doesn't really matter if it's NY or an other team, but you need a big rivalry to make it interesting. Of course if it's NY it adds a little something because of what the city represents.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

DX, excellent debate once again. I’m am glad you took the angle you did.

--I will not argue that the NBA isn’t popular from a financial standpoint right now. David Stern has done an excellent job of moving teams to better markets, internationalizing the game, as well as marketing the league’s best players. The NBA has always done an excellent job with that and will continue to do so forever. The fact that ticket sales are up could mean a number of things. First of all, like you said people adapt to the NBA where it’s the only choice, e.g. Utah, Portland, Sacramento. All those cities have are the NBA and when that’s the case I would almost have to expect constant sellouts. Plus the boost in offense this season undoubtedly interested the fans more and thus proved to be a step in the right direction. Also the number of star players appears to increase every season which has certainly put a number of more fans in the seats. However, assuming that this makes the league a success is entirely false. This doesn’t make the game widely loved, just appreciated in select markets.

--As far as television audience goes, millions of people are watching the NBA from overseas now, numbers that were almost non-existent back in the 90s. With the boost of European and now even Asian players coming into the league, fans from all over the globe are tuning in.

--But that wasn’t my point in the article. The angle I took was that, like Mike said, the game is hated now more than ever across the US. People are constantly bitching about how the NBA sucks and that they would never watch it. Thus, I attributed that to the lack of a supreme rivalry like the Bulls and Knicks had back in the 90s. That just doesn’t exist right now. Sure people in Texas get fired up when the Spurs and Mavs face off, but the entire country got amped when say the Lakers and Celtics met in the 70s, and 80s, and the Pistons-Bulls of the early 90s, then later the Knicks-Bulls, and Knicks-Pacers. Fans from all over the country would tune into NBC for those match-ups because they were guaranteed to be exciting games. Nowadays, we just don’t have that type of rivalry. The closest we came to that this year was Kobe and Shaq on Christmas Day, but even that didn’t shake a stick at what existed in the 90s. And why not? Because the Lakers sucked. We need the two best teams to be from two big cities—it’s the only way to captivate a nation-wide audience.

--Your point about East Coast fans now tuning into the Yankees and Red Sox and Patriots more is dead on. I should have explored that angle a bit more and tied that into my article. Fans are always going to watch the successful teams more, it’s human nature. But look at baseball. Everyone wants to watch at least one Yankees-Red Sox game in the ALCS because it’s a great rivalry. Everyone will catch some of the NFL Playoffs because it’s easy to follow. Win this week, play next week, week off in between, simple. In today’s busy world, sports has to be either convenient to watch (NFL) or exciting enough that it takes precedence over everything else (Game 7s, intense rivalries). Right now the NBA is not convenient nor does it have the rivalries to make it exciting. The only time NBA fans can get genuinely excited for a game is if their team is in the Playoffs. Even then there are no good rivalries to captivate the fans to watch any other series but the one their team is in. Rivalries make sports successful. LeBron, Kobe, T-Mac, KG, Amare, Duncan, they are all great and exciting to watch, but until they develop a rivalry with another team or each other, it’s just not as fun to watch. But even then, only 2 of those guys have the chance to be part of an intense rivalry--LeBron and Kobe. Those others are not in big enough cities for fans across the nation to tune in. Thus the need for a superstar in New York. In two years Kobe (LA) vs. LeBron (NYC) will change all of this.

--Lastly, you assume I think Larry Brown is a step in the right direction for the Knicks. Maybe he is, but it’s not going to pay the dividends you’re expecting unless they re-work that roster. You could put Jesus on the sidelines in a suit and that team still wouldn’t make the Playoffs. Assuming you’ll have enough to talk for the next few seasons with Brown pacing the sidelines is a pretty unsafe assumption. However, I applaud your optimism.

Thanks for writing in

At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Mike Plugh said...

To my European friend....

You are lucky. Europeans entering the league has created buzz for you in the same way that Latinos entering baseball in great waves has energized small Carribbean nations to that sport.

You can follow a player through his trials, tribulations, and successes in the NBA and feel pride. The same goes for people here in Japan, where I currently live. Matsui and Ichiro are icons and their games are televised every morning. It has led to Iguchi and Taguchi and others....all thanks to the two hitters and Hideo Nomo, who started it all.

For US sports fans, we have no such attachment to our players. The league is an American league in 29 cities around the country. We get excited about our team when they play well and regionally we draw interest. The point, however, is that most places don't have teams. 27 of the 50 States have no teams and can only get marginally interested in the smaller market teams in the general region.

For example, people in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming can attach themsleves to the Jazz or the Nuggets, but the "Rocky Mountain" appeal isn't a very strong connection.

People in Alabama and Arkansas could be Hawks or Heat fans, or could attach to any of the 3 Texas teams. Miami has a shot at being a real Southern powerhouse with Shaq, so I will argue that Miami has the "sex appeal" that is necessary to sustain a national audience.

Texas does not. Texas isn't seen as a place people want to be. West Coast people think of LA and SF and East Coast people think of NY and maybe Miami. Middle America like Chicago and maybe you'll find some small enclaves of support for Dallas. Phoenix was the most exciting team in the league last year, but when people hear Phoenix they don't fantasize.

That's the draw of NY. NY is the Big Apple. Broadway. Wall Street. Madison Avenue. The City that Never Sleeps.

LA is palm trees, movie stars, and plastic surgery. People eat that kind of mythology up.

Chicago is the Windy City. Da Bears. Deep dish pizza. Tough mid-western work ethic.

From there, the national mythology begins to recede. Other places certainly have their points. Many even have deep basketball tradition that trancends the national mythology to a degree. Boston's Celtic dynasties push them into a position of prominence, although they haven't capitalized on it for more than 15 years.

Miami has a chance to build that mythology. They have South Beach and palm trees and latin culture, etc.....If Shaq and Wade can make a champion in that city, you'll see a nice story emerge for that city and for national interest as well.

I'll wrap by illustrating the point on NY's importance by giving you an idea of the city's mythological prominence around the US. Anywhere you go there are Yankee fans. The mythology of the Bambino, Mantle, Dimaggio, Gehrig, Jeter, and others has always been a thread of national consciousness. Stadiums are packed to see the Yankees and you hear audible roars of appreciation when the team scores.

Yankee hats are seen everywhere, and while you have the inevitable Yankee hating community everywhere as well, the team has stamped itself on the national consciousness like no other. The Dallas Cowboys, LA Lakers, and virtually every other major champion in history plays second fiddle to the Yanks in terms of popularity. It's because they win, and they fit the mold of "if you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere." That's NY, NY.

At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Mike Plugh said...

It also occurs to me that when we talk about rivalries, sports are best when the two rivals are national powerhouses.

When you get NY/Chicago competing for the East it's big. When you get LA and Boston in the mix, basketball-wise, you get a great show.

Boston shows their national power in both basketball and baseball thanks to a mythology that has been created, either by Auerbachian iconoclasm or Ruthian curse.

When you get San Antonio/NJ or San Antonio/Detroit or Phoenix/Utah, lacks sex appeal to a broader audience because no mythology is at play. Sports are modern culture's extension of mythology. Perseus and Medusa have been replaced by David Ortiz and Mariano Rivera, or Shaq vs. Kobe.

A sport can survive on regional interest in the short term, but to stay relevant in the national consciousness, you must have an attachment to national mythology and the established storyline of society.

People would rather watch a story about the Iowa kid who electrified NYC than the NYC kid who won a title in Kansas. Nothing against small towns or cities, but the national myth of small town kid making it big in the big city is there.

When the Yankees win it fills the need for the storyline to continue. Whether you like the Yanks and see it as a coronation of your hero, or if you hate them and see it as the classic struggle between good and evil, it fits the story.

New York is always either Goliath or the triumphant Knight depending on your perspective, but NY is always compelling drama for that reason.

Portland has no such national identity, and neither does San Antonio (despite the Alamo), Milwaukee, or Denver. Even our nation's capital has very little in the way of sports mythology. DC has the Redskins, but no one really thinks twice about the Wizards or Nationals. It's doubtful that they ever will. History tells us as much.

The rivalry between cities with attachments to our national consciousness drive a league. Boston and LA carried the league in the 80's. Chicago and NY drove the 90's. LA helped to extend that interest beyond the Jordan era, but we are at a crossroads. The best teams in the league are in Indiana, Detroit, Miami, San Antonio, maybe NJ.....We have no LA, Chicago, or NY on the radar, and little attachment to our own national mythology.

That's why people think the league sucks. That's why people notice the crappy gimmicks more now than ever before. The league is using gimmicks as their crutch, or their bridge between eras. They are praying, privately, that NY gets LeBron James and that Phil Jackson can resurrect a Kobe driven Laker team. They're thrilled that Shaq resigned with Miami and that Wade has emnerged to such a degree.

The league office loves the regional success of the league. A lot of small success stories are good for business, but they know that a huge national rivalry is what's required to stay relevant.

At 7:02 AM, Anonymous rom said...

Mike, I can see your point, and mostly I would have to agree with what you said.

I agree that NBA is going through a transition phase right now, but to me that's good. New cards are being delt and I can understand that the ocasional fan gets confused and lose interest. But I still can see some good rivalries for next season. Kobe + phil against Shaq, if the lakers are playoff material, then this will be big. Also Shaq vs the pistons, he's lost his last 2 playoff series against the pistons and I can see the media making a big deal out of those confrontations. you will also have the pacers/ pistons thing, especially now that artest will be back. I also think that the Cavs / heat can be a big thing with wade and james being the 2 superstars of the futur. And if they manage to meet in the playoff then you know it can become really the biggest thing in the NBA.
I'm so hyped to see if shaq and wade can become the next jabbar/magic and to see if the wade/james confrontation can become legendary. But it is true that those confrontation would be even bigger if it was LA vs NY because they are the biggest city in the US and they also have some kind of rivalry on the cultural level. But to me people who watch games only when this kind of confrontation happens are not really NBA fans, they are ocasional fans that don't necessarily know why the situation we are in now can also be exciting.

now to answer your point of being european= following your national player.
I do think it is true (even though I thought in the US it was kind of the same with people being from your high school or your college) but there is a downside to this, when a player is all over the media all day long. Like here in France for Parker, here, it's Parker-mania everywhere, but some NBA fans are getting sick of it.
Some people here were for the pistons just so Parker would loose and the french media will stop talking about him all day long. And in his rookie season I was almost thinking the same way because media were all over him thinking he was god with a basketball when he had not proven anything yet. Now that he has proven he is a very solid nba player (who knows what part of his game he has to improve) I think he deserves his credit. But that is very french of us to hate on someone who makes it where nobody else did. This summer with the european basketball championship, if France wins and Parker plays well then it will all change and everybody will love him.
This was just to explain the downside of our national media following just one (or a few) player in the NBA, people who care about more that just this guy can get frustrated not to hear and see more about the rest of the league and lose interest.

At 8:53 AM, Anonymous mike plugh said...


I think your point about Tony Parker and how he gets hated on in France is really a perfect example of what's wrong with the whole NBA in a microcosm.

The over-hyped nature of every regular season matchup is a big part of the backlash.

I really like to see Shaq vs. Kobe, or Pistons/Pacers because it's compelling basketball, but when they begin the hype 2 weeks early for the game, featuring slow motion replays of Artest going into the stands or Kobe and Shaq in Lakers uniforms scowling at one another, it turns me off.

The game is no longer the game. It's about all the peripheral bullshit. "King James" has arrived!!! Kobe's return to Denver!!! Larry Brown vs. the Pistons on X-mas day!!!!

Let it be about the battle on the court. These days it's not enough, because there aren't any truly legendary rivalries, and also the quality of play is shit. That's why Argentina are world champs.

Hence, the NBA is hated on....

At 8:54 AM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

Excellent points, very well spoken. What are you doing in Japan?

At 12:51 PM, Anonymous rom said...

Mike I see what you mean, but having all those stuff over-marketed isn't it more of a general problem in the US?
isn't it the same in every sport? and also on tv in general?

but clearly if they try to hype a game and then the game doesn't deliver of course you get disapointed and after a while just lose interest.

At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Adam Kaye said...

Great debate going on here. As a "casual" Knicks fan, I remember following the Knicks closely during the 90's. Basketball has never really been my sport, I've always been more of a baseball/football guy, but during those years with those intense battles of NY vs. MJ and NY vs. Reggie, I remeber being on the edge of my seat for all of them. Maybe that makes me somewhat of a fairweather fan, but you know what...I'm not afraid to admit that, with Brown now coaching, and LeBron probably coming next year, I'll probably increase my Knicks viewing by 800% in the next few years. But that's how sports is, not everyone is a diehard fan of every sport. It just so happens that the population of NY and its surrounding suburbs is that much bigger than everywhere else, so there will be more fans like me.

To allude to Mike's post, I think his whole "storyline" angle is dead on, and not just about the NBA. Those battles were great, and MJ didn't have to plow Ewing's wife for people to watch.

I think part of the blame goes to ESPN. About 10 years ago, you would never hear some of the bullshit you hear on Sportscenter these days. You can't watch Sportscenter without them promoting some matchup from some convoluted storyline, like "Ortiz returning to the Metrodome for the first time in an August game since 1999, when he was ejected for farting on the umpire. Expect some booing and hilarious fart noises from the crowd in this one." And furthermore, the whole ESPN problem is exacerbated by the fact that they generally promote only those games that are on ESPN...think about this next time you watch Sportscenter.

At 3:22 PM, Anonymous JIMMHUMM said...

New York fans have apparently cooled to basketball. New Jersey went to the finals two years in a row and their games were always half empty. The market has changed in the east for basketball. I have to say that your opinion is biased because you live in that metropolitan area. Shaq is carrying much of the success for the NBA now. Ticket sells are higher because now east teams can see the daddy more than once a year. Also, older fans always grow away from the game after to many youngsters get in. My dad shyed away after Jordan retiered because he doesn't know much about A.I. Patrick retired and Spree has gone out west. Teams have fans, and teams are made of players. We all loved the bulls when jordan was there but I don't like them now and they are decent again. If their is no fan intrest it doesn't matter if a team is winning or not. If Steph can come back home to NY and not spark an intrest than its the fans fault not the League's

At 12:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you miss the point about why the NBA Sucks -- look at the pictures to your right -- there's no diversity, but dreadlocks and tattoos galore... can you say gangsta? That's why the NBA sucks. I am a female -- I watched the NBA quite a bit in the 90's and lost all interest after the player lockout. Since then, I've observed that the NBA's been nothing but a bunch of hoodlums in the game (at least that's my perception). I have no desire to watch and I doubt that will change any time in the near future. I think success in many ways has all to do with image -- other sports like the NFL/Nascar have a diverse set of players, they don't act/look like hoodlums on national tv. Until they can mend their image, they will continue to suck. Sorry.

At 5:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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