When Madison Square Garden had its wildly expensive facelift this past summer, many in the media who’d previously enjoyed seating near the court for years were relocated to the upper reaches of the building, where they were joined by advanced scouts who work for opposing teams. Both groups are quite unhappy with this new arrangement. Reports the NY Post: “The Knicks are responding to complaints from other club’s advance scouts who feel they can’t do their job properly in the current seating in the brand-new 300-level press box. Advance scouts evaluate their clubs’ upcoming opponents, attending the opponents’ games and charting their plays. In the past, the advance scouts were placed on the floor. But, in the new Garden, the scouts were put upstairs. As a consequence, the Knicks advance scout, Matt Harding, has received similar treatment in other arenas, according to sources, and has been placed upstairs often. The Knicks believe that has put their own scouts at ‘a competitive disadvantage’ to other team scouts who have better seats at foreign arenas. That is why there is an urgency to resolve the issue. It is doubtful it will be resolved by tonight’s game against the Bobcats, however. ‘Advance scouts are in the business of winning basketball games,’ one NBA executive [said]. ‘It’s the most important job on the staff for game preparation. It can win or lose a game. I think the Knicks realize that and are trying to do the right thing.’ According to a handful of scouts interviewed, the key issue in the upstairs seating is their inability to hear coach Mike D’Antoni calling the name of the plays — a vital tool in reports used by all teams. Knicks owner James Dolan also kicked the team’s traveling beat writers up to the 300-level and made those baseline seats available for season-ticket holders after spending $800 million on the Garden transformation. It is unclear if the advance scouts eventually will be put back on the floor or in a lower section as logistics still are being worked out.”
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