Game Notes: Nets at Knicks
Fan Excruciation Night at the World’s Most Famous.
By Jake Appleman and Russ Bengtson
Originally, I had wanted to write a short film on this game with Russ entitled Mediocracy, where Devin Harris, Brook Lopez, David Lee and Wilson Chandler wake up in a futuristic world where every NBA team finishes with 41 wins, only to have a highly viewed game of Texas Hold Em decide who gets into the playoffs, with Norman Chad and Ken Norman in the booth for that extravaganza. It’s a world where T-Mobile board meetings are held on the floor at halftime; a league without press box chicken tenders or Gus Johnson’s voice. IZOD Polo shirt uniforms in the gift shops? You betcha. Take 50% off, but only after the prices double.
I had grandiose ideas for this one as well, only not quite as grandiose as my esteemed colleague’s. I had at one point pushed for a freestyle rap notes battle—a concept which came to a messy end when I realized I’d need a week to come up with any decent bars. Then there was “Which MF Doom Alter-Ego Are You?”, which might be better suited for one of those über-addictive Facebook quizzes—although I did get as far as figuring out that Nate is Dangerdoom, Sean Williams is Madvillain, Vince Carter is just MF, and Wilson Chandler is Viktor Vaughn.)
The other idea was to pretend that the game was a) meaningful and b) a battle over the right to the Statue of Liberty. Of course, if this was the case, the Nets’ starting backcourt would have played. “Did you SEE, VC?” Um, no, not really. I did see Devin Harris, before the game, scoff at the idea that he was over 200 pounds. So much for calling him ‘Deuce Harris’, and with that the turd punchbowl laments. Devin actually copped to being just an exoskeleton with wheels and rims, held up merely by one of Phil Jackson’s old coat hangers. And if you believe that, put big money on the Orlando Magic.
What made this funnier was that the interrogation about Devin’s weight was being performed in part by veteran Nets beatwriters Dave D’Alessandro (Newark Star-Ledger) and Fred Kerber (NY Post), both of whom left 200 in the rear-view quite some time ago. Devin’s indignant response: “I’ve never been 200 pounds in my life! I’ve never been 195!” (Referring to Mr. Harris as ‘Devin’ leads me to two other unfulfilled Game Notes concepts that are in the works for next year—one where everyone is referred to by his full name every time—no matter how tiring it may get to type “Chris Douglas-Roberts”—and one where everyone is reduced to the first-initial, first-syllable “nickname,” just like D-Wade and T-Mac. Some would be natural enough, like D-Lee and Q-Rich; others, like W-Chan and V-Car would be simply odd; and still others (find them yourselves) would be borderline offensive.)
What ensued instead was a weak game that didn’t inspire worthy notes on my end because it was a meaningless blowout. The Nets spent much of the game building Rick James a brick house, probably in Newark. Since we’re here, let’s hand out some alternate side of the New Jersey street parking names for Trenton Hassell: Parsippany Persistence, Princeton Annoying, Hackensack Bother [Hey, I wrote this!], Asbury Park Aggravation. Also, we had to wonder, since a Worldwide Traveler named Wesley was sitting next Spike: was he there to say “as you wish” to the Dread Pirate Chris Douglas-Roberts? Probably not, but it’s fun to think about. Having said that, I must add that we hope one day Appleson will get over the Humperdink and make some real bank.
Since, as Jake pointed out, the game itself was nothing worth writing home about—or indeed writing about at all—much of my notebook was filled with asides from asides. Such as the Dread Pirate Chris Douglas-Roberts line, which led to further musings that THIS Chris Douglas-Roberts isn’t the real Chris Douglas-Roberts, and even the previous Chris Douglas-Roberts wasn’t the real Chris Douglas-Roberts. (If you haven’t seen The Princess Bride, just know this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.) The other CDR (or C Doug-Rob) musing involved his rather lengthy last name, which curves all the way around the back of his jersey like a St. Louis Gateway Arch of letters. I believe I’ve made the Chris Douglas-Roberts-Abdul-Jabbar joke before, but my newest idea was that, if he takes someone off the dribble or dunks on them, he should get to add their name to his via another hyphen. Given enough playing time, by the end of the season his uniform would weigh 200 pounds and take the equipment manager 12 days to make. Other random observations: Mouhamad Sene is like Bernie Madoff’s Shawn Kemp, and Nate Robinson pressed CDR fullcourt to force an eight-second rule turnover—on the first play of the fourth quarter when the Knicks were already up 20. Way to show off that defensive intensity.
Anyway…So what tonight was all about, in truth, was nostalgia. Appleson attended because when you like school there’s no point in skipping the last day. You wanna see most of your buddies off without the weight of uncertainty looming like a Final Exam. There may be other classes for many reporters this season (us included), but when your home room is the World’s Most Famous, you tend to pay tribute to its “stale beer and popcorn” aroma with a grand last whiff and honor its legendary Mecca vibe by humming, “take me home, take me home, to the place I was born New York City” one last time.
There is nothing quite like an NBA game at the Garden. I’ve been to literally hundreds of them over the years, and despite all the shortcomings (the claustrophobic hallways, the cramped elevator, the games themselves), it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. Someday—perhaps someday soon—the Garden will undergo a high-priced renovation, and while some of the added conveniences will no doubt be welcome, it will mark the end of an era. And that’ll be a shame. Also, multi-millionaires leaving the locker room with their possessions stuffed into black trash bags is a sight that will never get old.
And it’s not really all that sad. The fans barely cared and the players were loosey-goosey—after all, their respective geese are cooked.
And we got to see Joe Crawford score five points and Knick Bavetta ref and Trenton Hassell isoed on the baseline against Al Harrington and more Knicks City Dancer routines and Charles Oakley in the front row and David Lee get another double-double and Eddy Curry get a pair of custom-made Air Yeezys for his big-ass size 17s and…
As for Lawrence Frank, we’d like to see him back next year.
Hmph. Speak for yourself.