Thursday, February 16, 2006

1.5.85: A lousy team and a coach named Brown

Last week I mentioned that I had stumbled across a Knicks game from 1984 on MSG Network. MSG has a series called "Knicks 101" which is basically just edited-down-for-time old Knicks broadcasts. First of all, it's a terrible show name. What the fuck? Shouldn't this name be used for the show where the teenagers enlist the help of Knicks scrubs to teach kids basketball fundamentals? Yes. Whatever, my second thought is that screening, editing and coming up with little on-screen factoids for this series is the job I was meant to perform since I came tumbling out of the womb. I just need to find out who's doing it now and take them out big time. Because frankly they ain't doing that good a job. The factoids are ugly and for the most part uninteresting. MSG, I can do better. I would like to make a lot of money, though. Is that cool?

Anyway, I have added "Knicks 101" to my DVR list, and tonight I came home to discover that the Magic Box had a game from 1.5.85 all cued up and ready for me to watch. It was Michael Jordan's second game in NYC (not the first one where he ripped the ball from Ernie Grunfeld and did that flying cradle dunk). Here are my observations:

1. Jim Karvellas was excellent on play-by-play again tonight -- he really observed the game well, caught lots of little things. I will say that the game was much easier to follow then, too, but I don't exactly know why. Maybe it was just slower. Karvellas and Butch Beard each called Michael Jordan "Sky Jordan," which was pretty hilarious. The way it went down was that Karvellas said, "What a play by Sky Jordan." Then like five minutes later Butch Beard is like, "What a play by Sky Jordan. Had to make sure we got that nickname right." This even though MJ was wearing Air Jordans.
2. Jordan had a semi-quiet 40, although he pretty much took over in the 4th quarter. He was so much faster, stronger, more coordinated, more fundamentally sound and just cooler looking than all the other players, it was like watching a man from the future dropped into the past. Like that old Scottie Pippen ad. There were like ten times during the game when the announcers were forced to admit they were seeing things they'd never seen before. He was that much better than everybody else. By the end of the game the Knicks were sending like three guys at a time at him, and each guy had a desperate and embarrassed look on his face.
3. It was also cool to see Hubie Brown pleading with the refs to call Jordan for palming the ball. It must have been tough for an old purist like Hubie to watch the game change right in front of his face like that. Especially because he was right -- the guy was flagrantly breaking the rules and nobody did anything about it. I bet he stopped worrying about it by the end of that season. Or at least by now.
4. Orlando Woolridge was on fire. Although Bernard put the game away with a jumper in his face with like 20 seconds left.
5. Darrell Walker dribbled the ball off his foot and it smacked the ballboy in the face, knocking him over.
6. The NBA three point shot was five years old then, and it was for the most part a strange and mysterious beast. The Knicks hit three in this game and the announcers were talking about what a huge number that was. In fact, I just looked it up: the entire team hit 51 on the season, an average of .62 per game.
7. There was indeed a moment when Ron Cavenall and Ken "The Animal" Bannister were occupying the two inside rebounding positions as Chicago shot free throws. That's like seeing Ben Franklin and George Washington sitting down together at an old wooden table, smoking Philly Blunts and playing Crazy Eights. Something you knew was historically possible but you never thought you'd see with your own eyes.
8. Jawann Oldham was playing with the Bulls then. Karvellas hinted that the Knicks were looking to pick him up, which eventually proved accurate. Unfortunately. Karvellas also astutely observed after Oldham misfired badly on a hook shot, "Wow, what a brick. He almost broke the basket."