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NY Daily News: Van, Stern give NBA life

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by hotballa, May 6, 2005.

  1. hotballa

    hotballa Contributing Member

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    Interesting take.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/story/307008p-262640c.html

    As he wades through the latest flood of National Basketball Association turmoil, David Stern should take a minute to thank Jeff Van Gundy.


    That's right, Van Gundy. The man who says a ref told him NBA zeebs had lying eyes for Mr. Yao Ming.


    While the merits of Van Gundy's $100,000 theory can be debated (anyone smart enough to escape James Dolan's 33rd Street Insane Asylum must be taken seriously), the undeniable result is a story that has finally focused attention on an NBA playoff year so bland, a white-bread and butter sandwich is spicy by comparison.


    Van Gundy is not the only one waiting on line to be congratulated. Stern, the league commissioner, is standing right behind him. And you will get no argument here if you say the commish belongs at the front of the line. If it was only a matter of Stern fining the Rockets coach $100,000, the most an NBA coach has ever been fined, the story dies quickly.


    Once Stern went to the whip, saying Van Gundy's career is on the line if he doesn't rat out the ref, this became just the kind of soap opera the NBA needs to get someone - anyone - interested in tuning in.


    So, maybe this turns into a master stroke for Stern, who clearly knows entertainment value. Stern can milk shtick or rely on reality. In a pinch, he combines the two. This art form is known as shtickality.


    During a Wednesday interview with WFAN's Chris (Mad Dog) Russo, Stern again showed an acute awareness of the kind of food media seals crave. Sports, he said, will always and forever be the purest form of reality TV.


    "They love to say, 'What's going on with Van Gundy and Stern,' or 'What's going on with Larry Brown?'" Stern said. "You name it and we're filling it. Pages on the Internet. Pages on the radio. Pages on TV."


    Over the past few days, especially on sports-talk radio, banter on the Van Gundy controversy has jump-started a more general conversation about the NBA playoffs. If you look at the NBA national TV ratings - regular season and playoffs - it becomes clear that the league could use some help.


    Through Sunday, the combined playoff ratings of TNT/ESPN, the NBA's national cable partners, is a 1.8, which is the same ratings the cable networks generated at this point in the 2004 playoffs. The combined regular-season NBA cable rating was a 1.0, off 9% from last season's 1.1.


    The ratings picture on ABC is bleaker. Through three games, ABC has recorded a 2.7 rating. At the same point in the 2004 playoffs, with just two games played, ABC averaged a 4.0 rating. ABC averaged a 2.3 rating for its regular-season NBA schedule. If that isn't an all-time low, it has to be close to it.


    Yes, the almost all-cable regular-season and playoff schedule has been confusing and somewhat hard to follow. And stretching the opening round to best-of-seven series, to provide added inventory for the NBA's TV partners has stripped it of its always compelling unpredictability.


    Also, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett are home crocheting. The lack of star power is a ratings killer. So is the fact the Lakers are on the beach. Stern has often said the L.A. market creates a huge surge in ratings.


    Now, the TV sets have gone dark in Hollywood.


    The Van Gundy story, a tale of a defiant nebbish, never will be mistaken as a replacement for all that glitters in the NBA. Still, at the least, the story has put the playoffs back on radar screens of fans who have not been paying attention.


    Yesterday, columnists in New York, Baltimore and Houston all spent time and space analyzing the Van Gundy story. The writers were sympathetic toward the coach. Stern played the heavy. The Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice painted a picture of a coach who, overnight, went from outsider to folk hero.


    Of Van Gundy, Justice wrote: "And when challenged by Stern, he refused to back down. He turned basketball into a morality play. . . ."


    All that's missing here is a variation of the "Beverly Hillbillies" theme: "Come and listen to my story about a man named Jeff . . ."


    The Van Gundy story has to be resonating with the suits at TNT and the crew at Bristol Clown Community College. It may even have penetrated the skulls of the cats running ABC Sports.


    When and if Van Gundy's Rockets are eliminated from the playoffs, one of these networks should either bring Van Gundy into the studio or make him a game analyst. As long as this story is hot, Van Gundy has more sizzle than anyone working an NBA joystick.


    Even commissioner Stern cannot deny this.
     
  2. BucMan55

    BucMan55 Contributing Member

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    If ABC were broadcasting their play-off games in HDTV, they would certainly have higher viewership. I know I'd be more inclined to watch a ball-game if it was in HD and didnt involve the Rockets......
     
  3. r-fan-since-81

    r-fan-since-81 Contributing Member

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    No Doubt!
     
  4. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member
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    Ratings might be down, but there's been a lot of 7 game series, so the competition is up. No stars? Besides Memphis there's a lot of talented players to root for.

    These NY hacks will continue to bitch until the Knicks make the playoffs.
     
  5. T-2

    T-2 Contributing Member

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    Meanwhile all-stars AI, Amare, Vince Carter, Ray Allen, Lewis, Marion, and Arenas made it in this time, not to mention only just the perennial all-star, scoring champion of the Rockets.

    I think the main problem is that the Eastern matchups are boring or terribly one-sided. Even in the close series, it's hard to get excited about watching mediocre teams play. Even the next round in the East will still be uninteresting as there are only two good teams over there.

    The West seemed promising but they all ended-up one-sided except for ours.
     
  6. rvpals

    rvpals Member

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    The rating is down because the fans are disheartened when they clearly see a lot of bad refereeing going on that totally trashed the game.
     
  7. Doctor Robert

    Doctor Robert Contributing Member

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    One word.



    SHOCKING



    Take note Jeff. I think the commissioner just revealed his motivation. He could care less about the integrity of the league.
     
  8. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    I can't believe the smuck said that. It's stunning, shocking, whatever word the speechless fan can come up with. I totally agree, DR, that the man is without a shread of integrity. Stern, who is supposed to preserve the integrity of the League, has been, to use Trader_J's favorite word... exposed.

    What a completely empty suit. Amazing.
     
  9. Sishir Chang

    Sishir Chang Contributing Member

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    I'm not surprised ABC's ratings are down because they've relegated the most exciting matchups (ROCKETS V MAVS HINT HINT) to cable while they've been showing Miami dismantling the Nets. One would figure with the popularity of Yao and T-Mac and the hi-octane Mavs two closely matched exciting teams that they would've at least broadcasts a few of the the weekend games (Like an exciting game 7 HINT HINT)

    ABC is just too shortsighted thinking about catering to big markets to realize that there's some real excitement out there.
     
  10. Doctor Robert

    Doctor Robert Contributing Member

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    I would love to see another editorial quoting that soon.
     
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