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NY Post
New York Post
2 Dec 2023

NextImg:At least one Knick realizes $500K prize from ridiculous NBA tournament is a lot of money

This was in the late 1970s, on my first beat — covering the New York Cosmos, at the time the most famous team in the world for its collection of world-famous, store-bought, mismatched and often discordant soccer stars. 

We were in Dallas to play the Tornado, best known as the team that starred Kyle Rote Jr. 

The plan among us — Hank Gola, then with a Jersey paper, soon the New York Post then Daily News, was my inseparable road-pal — was to dine that night with Cosmos’ striker, aristocrat, autocrat and inside information speaker, the globally renown loved or loathed — and often both — Giorgio Chinaglia, now deceased. 

Giorgio being Giorgio long before Manny Ramirez became “Manny being Manny,” we left the reservation to him, international connoisseur. Big mistake. Naturally, he made a reservation and then a splash at a fabulous steak house well beyond our expense accounts’ furthest borders. 

When the check arrived — I never did see the total but it had to be a big, big ticket — we grabbed at it. Chinagila erupted: “What are you doing?!” We told him that it’s a journalistic tradition, the news folks to avoid the appearance of compromised independence. Thus, we pay. 

George, as we called him, was appalled. He asked each of us how much money we make. Our answers drew his scornful laugh. “I make more than all of you together in a month!” 

Julius Randle playing here for the Knicks during an NBA In-Season Tournament game. NBAE via Getty Images

He grabbed the check, paid it, signed some autographs — even in Dallas he had a following — then off we went. Chinagila was an arrogant SOB, but he could wear it well. 

That brings us to the NBA’s desperate-for-attention — In-Season Tournament, a bad idea that will be treated with years of tweaking unless the NBA concedes that it should soon be buried in the Tomb of Good Tries. 

Winning team members receive a gaudy $500,000 — even if they never break a sweat while seated on the bench. 

And just when we thought that money caused latter day pros detachment from our daily realities — a $12,000 fine for misconduct is a mere drop in the Gucci as opposed to a deterrent — Knicks star Julius Randle gave us a modicum of brief relief. 

Speaking to The Post’s Zach Braziler last week, he said, “From a money standpoint, 500k is a lot to anybody. I don’t care what anybody says. 

Winners of the NBA In-Season Tournament get $500,000. Getty Images

“But for the guys not making as much, it’s a big deal. We definitely want to win it for them.” 

I’d second that emotion. 

Yet there remains within Randle’s take an unshakeable sorrow, as if someone — even an NBA-enriched player — would even have to consider whether half-a-million bucks — several years’ pay, the cost of a new home, the financial freedom to live free of debt and the interest on that debt — is a lot of money. 

Randle inspired more thought: I wonder how many NBA, NFL and MLB guaranteed money guys know that their predecessors had to hold offseason jobs to keep from sweating rent. 

Julius Randle has talked about how the prize money is hefty. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

The average NBA annual salary is $10 million. Randle’s four-year Knicks’ deal is for $117 million, $106 million of it guaranteed. How much of your salary is guaranteed? 

Perhaps that’s why I’m both grateful and pleasantly surprised that Julius Randle still regards $500,000 as a lot of money. These days, it could’ve gone either way. 

Perversely comical reading Chris Russo’s lament about losing a bundle coming close to cashing a big parlay bet. Same with the complaints registered by ESPN’s clients to its new betting site who griped that hitting four-of-five bets in a five-bet parlay paid nothing because the fifth bet was “a push” — a tie. 

Why, oh why, do they think parlays are pushed so heavily by sports gambling houses? Because they’re good bets? Or fools’ bait, sports gambling’s version of the lottery? 

That’s why sports books love to publicize someone hitting it big on a parlay: 

  1. It’s so rare that the house has nothing to worry about, and 2) Such cashouts feed the frenzy among suckers to bet parlays. 
Chris Russo recently complained about losing his money gambling. Getty Images for SiriusXM

Lost your dough on an oh-so-close parlay? Well, if you refuse to wake up the least you can do is shut up. 

Or take your gripe to Roger Goodell, Adam Silver and Rob Manfred, the stewards of their games that all rake a contracted, cross-promotional cut of their sport’s fans’ losses. 

Maybe they’ll send back a thank-you note. 

Replay-rule challenges too often remain a second opinion of a first guess. Last weekend at least three — those I watched — replay challenges were spoken, pre-adjudication, by former NFL officials and now network experts Dean Blandino and Gene Steratore. 

During all three pre-ruling examinations, what these experts, using slow-motion and freeze-frame replays, said should be the call were ruled in contradiction to their expertise. 

Yet, there are still those who unconditionally champion replay rules, no matter what it does to kill action in service to “perhaps,” for “getting it right.” 

So that Fox’s Charissa Thompson so easily succeeded at fabricating her halftime interviews with NFL head coaches, tells us exactly what about that position? 

Amazon Prime Thursday Night Football commentator Charissa Thompson speaks before an NFL football game. AP

With such NFL, NBA and NCAA assignments so transparently assigned to young, attractive women to create transparently hollow token images of diversity, those women who take sports broadcast journalism seriously should be raising hell. 

Then again, consider all the women in sports TV who have quietly indulged or even applauded Roger Goodell’s annual headlining of vulgar, N-word-spewing rappers who trash women as good for nothing beyond a wham-bam bedding then a shove out the door. 

The Nets continue to have more uniforms than an identity. 

How’s your remote arm discipline? Falcons-Jets on Fox at 1 p.m. Sunday co-stars Jonathan Vilma, yet another in a never-ending series who confuse TV for radio. 

Last weekend’s Kentucky-Louisville began with a pregame fight, then, during the opening kickoff a flag was thrown for throwing a punch. Such another backward-pointed uncivil, football-as-holy-war scene was met by ABC/ESPN’s Joe Tessitore with TV-standardized pandering and gutless enthusiasm. 

DeSean Jackson, former Eagles WR and noted unpunished public anti-semite on Roger Goodell’s highly selective “End Racism” watch, has retired. I’ll always credit Jackson for his early warning notice that he’s a self-smitten fool. What should have been his first NFL touchdown was lost when he stylishly dropped the ball before entering the end zone. 

DeSean Jackson announced his retirement from the NFL. Getty Images

Gee, new Yankees coach Brad Ausmus and former Yankees pitcher Zack Britton on the same day said that players-as-robots analytics too often replace here-and-now reality with the wishful. While it eluded managers and GMs, this column’s readers knew that at least five years ago.