Archive | March, 2014

March Madness and the Day That Used to Be My Favorite of the Year

20 Mar

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It used to be my favorite day of the year. Someone—I think it was my friend Elliot—would bring in bunny ears for the TV. Someone else would be in charge of finding an unused television that was just lying around somewhere, and wheeling it into the far corner of our hallway, or maybe downstairs into the cafeteria, behind those fake walls. This was before smartphones and and iPads—back in my day, if I wanted to check my fantasy team in school, I had to go to the computer room, which for some reason was always open and classless—and so if my friends and I wanted to watch the first two days of the NCAA Tournament, and keep up on our brackets, this was the only way to do so.

I always thought that leaving high school and being either in college or in a job like that one that I have now, where I can pretty much watch every game, would make the NCAA Tournament more enjoyable. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to no longer have to sneak around, and watch games in increments of 15 minutes, the maximum amount of time I could stay out of history class without raising too much suspicion?

Turns out, part of what I loved about March Madness was this atmosphere. I still love the Tourney, but I don’t look forward to it the way I used to. Something about sitting there with a bunch of friends, all of us participating in the same pool with our brackets printed out and yelling at the TV, all of us (or maybe not all, but definitely some) constantly rotating between classes and quick game check-ins, it just made it all more special. Today, I’m going to sit here on my computer, do some writing, and some other work, and watch every single game. There won’t be a single major moment that I’ll miss.

And yet, it won’t be nearly as enjoyable as those days in high school were. That is unless I win a billion dollars. If that were to happen, I think I’d look back on this year’s NCAA Tournament and say that I had a pretty good time watching the games.

UPDATE: I had Ohio State, so yeah, this day sucks. I really thought I had a chance at that billion. 

Phil Jackson and the Knicks

18 Mar

At first I was skeptical—I’m of the belief that if a man’s first response to being offered a job is How often do I have to come into the office, well, that’s usually not a good sign. Also, there are all the questions—legitimate ones—about whether Phil Jackson is actually qualified to run an NBA team. We know he can coach. But can he scout and deal with agents and recruit and hire smart basketball people and parse through advanced stats and foster change and teamwork from up in an office as opposed to from the locker room and the bench? Also, he’s kind of old.

Phil Jackson, President of the New York Knicks, is not guaranteed to be a success.

Here’s the thing, though: With the Knicks, you’re not dealing with a typical NBA team. The reality of the situation is different. Would it be nice if the Knicks could, for once, do something normal and hire a smart young guy who’s been busting his ass and who knows the modern game, and hand him the reigns, and ability, to, as The Daily Show would say, polish the turd that is the Knicks, like Daryl Morey has in Houston, and Sam Presti has in Oklahoma City, and  Ryan McDonough  has in Phoenix.

Of course it would. And it would be much cheaper, too. But this is the Knicks we’re talking about. Or, more precisely, these are James Dolan’s Knicks. They are not ran like other teams, unless that team is Daniel Snyder’s Washington Redskins. Men hired to make basketball decisions are then not allowed to do just that. You think some hotshot, 35-year-old first-time GM would be the one who Dolan finally leaves alone?

This is why the Jackson hire is something Knicks fans should be excited about. Phil Jackson is the type of person who might actually be able to operate freely in the Garden. He’s a legend, and a star, and if he works out, James Dolan will become known as the one who brought Phil home, meaning that Phil Jackson might be one of, like, five people in the world who Dolan would be willing to take a backseat to.

And that is the only chance the Knicks have. They are are not a normal sports franchise; being ran by a paranoid egomaniac kind of takes normalcy out of the air. The only chance the Knicks have of climbing out of the black hole that they’ve fallen into is for someone to wrestle the reigns away from James Dolan, something no one except Isaiah Thomas has been able to do. The key difference here is that Phil Jackson knows basketball and how to win whereas Isaiah has never proven to know how to do anything other than play basketball and run businesses and organizations into the ground. No, it’s not a sure thing that he can apply his skills to his new position.

But at least, it seems, he’ll be given a chance to do things his way. And for the Knicks, any way that’s not Dolan’s is progress..