Your NBA team, up five in the second quarter, has a 4-on-2 fast break. What would you instruct your players to do? Hit the brakes and take a 25-footer, right?
For 10 seasons, 1967-68 through 1976-77, during mostly night sessions in Midtown, Clyde Frazier taught school. And thousands earned their B.A. — a degree in Basketball Appreciation.
But now even Frazier seems to have surrendered to the redundant thoughtlessness that has turned a needless, game-desperate gimmick — the 3-point shot — into standardized, all-game NBA depreciation.
Allow me to relate some “action” seen on MSG during the second quarter of Thursday’s Pistons-Knicks game:
The Pistons rebounded a missed 3-pointer taken by the Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley then headed the other way, where a running jam attempt by Sekou Doumbouya was perfectly blocked by 6-foot-11 Nerlens Noel. Perfectly. Noel swatted the ball down court to start a 4-on-2 Knicks fast break.
The Knicks, as we’re now told by the easily reconditioned, had “numbers.”
But the ball was slowly dribbled down court by 6-foot-8 Julius Randle, who stopped near the foul line — there was no teammate cutting toward the basket, nor did any appear interested — then threw it deep outside to Quickley, who missed another 3.
Instead of an easy two points off a superb block, the Knicks left with none.
There was a time when Frazier would have been flabbergasted by such play, but he sounded unmoved by it, as if he expected it or, at least, didn’t expect better.
But how many pie-throwing skits could “The Three Stooges” perform before audiences grew tired of them?
Yet imagine Frazier leading a 4-on-2 down court, no one running out in front, no one cutting toward the basket, no one making it nearly impossible to defend. Infamy! Heresy!
I get it. Two 3s are worth three 2s. But are 3s worth the loss of basketball as a two-way, speed-reliant, thinking-man’s and thinking-fan’s sport?
Thursday’s game, another NBA number short on curb-appeal, was won, 114-104, by the Knicks. And though it included just 63 3-point attempts (70-85 is about the norm these days; Warriors-Trail Blazers a night earlier included 91), Kenny Albert, in for Mike Breen, provided the stat of the telecast:
Detroit’s Wayne Ellington, the night before against the Raptors in Tampa, Fla., took 11 shots — all 3-pointers. Against the Knicks, just 10 of his 14 shots were 3s.
If this is what people of all ages want when they tune to NBA games, as opposed to video games that even kids find pointless, that’s their choice. As a once-attractive sport it just doesn’t make any short-addition or long-term sense. Then again, the only losing basketball coach in University of Kansas history was Dr. James Naismith.
One game, two broadcasts, two different realities
Tale of two broadcast crews calling the same game:
Thursday, the Rangers played at the Devils. The game was shown on two MSG channels: one by the Rangers’ broadcasting team, the other by the Devils’. We could lean on four sets of eyes.
In the first period, the Devils took a 1-0 lead on an oddity. In what began as nothing more threatening than a hard, mid-ice dump-in, the puck shot off the end boards, straight back past goalie Igor Shesterkin and defenseman Adam Fox, right back to on-rushing Jack Hughes, who scored, surprising everyone except Hughes.
The Rangers’ crew of Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti spoke it thusly:
JM: “Bewilderment! Right?”
SR: “Shesterkin looking up [seen studying the overhead scoreboard replay]!”
JM: “Such an innocent looking play. Bounces off the board and Shesterkin just misses it. … It might be, Sam, that the boards are lively.”
He went on to tell that the Rangers didn’t have “a morning skate,” thus weren’t able to examine New Jersey’s boards.
“Oh, yeah,” added Rosen, as if they’d both suspected the answer to the mystery that cost the Rangers a goal.
On the Devils’ TV end, Steve Cangialosi and Ken Daneyko, over replays, saw it differently. No mystery: It was the result of a superb, heads-up play by Hughes.
KD: “I think there was a little confusion from the Rangers. They didn’t realize it was coming off the boards and they let up for a bit, but it comes off perfectly to Hughes, who made no mistake, shooting it to the far-side.”
Of course, we’re left to judge for ourselves. If we choose to hitch a ride, that’s the best place to be left.
Some major issues in NCAA hoops
Student-Athletics: A few years ago, CBS gave listing academic majors of players in the NCAA Tournament a shot. That became a farce when the most popular major was shown to be “General Studies” — we never knew anyone with a degree in that — and a player from a French-speaking African country was listed as a French major. Parlez vous hoops?
While we’re at it, why would players from Montreal, Sudan, Nigeria, Slovakia, Netherlands, Mali, Atlanta and Jacksonville this season choose to play for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse? That’s an easy one: the climate!
And for the uninitiated, NCAA Tournament bracketology is similar to a colonoscopy — the prep is worse than the procedure.
Local TV now seems to be sparing the credibility of its broadcasters by inserting generic bad-odds, sucker sports gambling ads into game telecasts — saving their most public employees both their dignity and potential law suits for being party to “get-rich-quick” come-ons.
Here’s a wild idea: This baseball season all broadcasters in all booths and trucks should cut way down on stats, starting with Michael Kay on YES. Too many stats are misleading, misinterpreted, irrelevant, circumstantial and easily contradicted to hold any applicable enlightenment.
Not sure how Jets safety Marcus Maye’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, best serves his client by bashing the Jets on Twitter, but he joins the legions who choose “social” media to make matters worse.
So let the record show that the media, print and broadcast, gathered to pay homage to Tiger Woods on the occasion of at least his third reckless driving episode. Keepin’ it real.
Boxing champ Floyd Mayweather is still drawing celebrities and big shots, including President Biden’s brother, to pose by his side. The same Floyd Mayweather with a history of assaults on women, including an arrest for beating the mother of his daughter and another for the beating of his girlfriend that deposited him in jail for two months. But in some stars’ cases, that’s no one else’s business.
Colleague Andrew Marchand reports that Fox/FS1 will now pay Skip Bayless $32 million over four years to retain his transparent, let’s-force-an-argument and just-make-noise shows. Heck, my sister-in-law could do the same for half the price.