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NY Post
New York Post
25 Mar 2023

NextImg:Formula-driven lunacy almost spoiled one of March Madness’ best finishes

As Grandpa Simpson says of his daily pills: “The pink ones keep ya’ from screamin’.”

No way we could medicate through this latest shipwreck. Even as we saw the disaster coming, it was too late — too late for a coup d’état, something quick and, if necessary, violent.

The Kansas State-Michigan State NCAA Tournament game Thursday on TBS was headed for a close finish. The only issue remaining was whether the director would allow us, a national TV audience, to watch it. Hope was all we had going for us.

With 3:08 left in regulation, it didn’t look good, like storm clouds moving in. Kansas State’s Ismael Massoud hit a 3 to give his team a five-point lead. But while the ball remained in play, we were left in the dark as the director cut to two crowd shots, a shot of the K-State cheerleaders and a closeup of Massoud as he backpedaled to defend against a suddenly unseen opponent.

And formula-driven lunacy was how the rest of regulation was presented, TV’s goal clearly was to demonstrate how spectators were reacting to the game rather than showing the game to the TV audience. It’s one of those TV-conditioned habits that can only be cured by applied common sense, like looking both ways before crossing the street.

Kansas State Wildcats guard Markquis Nowell races up the court at Madison Square Garden.
Robert Sabo for NY Post

With 5 seconds left in regulation, Michigan State tied it with a layup. K-State quickly inbounded, then began to race down the floor when …

… TBS cut to a live shot of the Michigan State band!

What was the band doing? It was intently and anxiously watching the final seconds of regulation in a tied NCAA Tournament game — something we’d have done had we been allowed.

It brought to mind Ch. 4’s coverage of the Christmas tree lighting in Rockefeller Center years ago. As the countdown hit 1, Ch. 4 cut to crowd shots, thus the spectacle we were encouraged to watch wasn’t shown.


The Michigan State band plays at Madison Square Garden.
Getty Images

But ’tis 2023. Every high tech bell, whistle and gadget are within arm’s reach in the broadcast truck, yet the timeless logic of actually paying attention to the game very much remains a matter of who, not what.

To repeat: With seconds left in a tied NCAA Tournament game and the ball in play, TBS cut to a shot of the band. Even the pink ones couldn’t keep me from screaming.

No offense to those who offend, but how do you stand up for sports fans — paying customers — who refuse to get it, those who are served unfiltered, overpriced garbage then beg for more?

Grizzlies star Ja Morant returned Wednesday from an eight-game suspension for misbehavior above and beyond the NBA’s standard. He received, without urging, a standing ovation from the Memphis crowd.

For what? For imperiling the team? For making fools of season’s ticket-holders? For throwing around 50 grand at 5 a.m. while receiving a lap dance and brandishing a gun?

The crowd showed Morant its one-way love when he, at best, deserved the silent treatment.


Ja Morant greets fans after leaving the court in Memphis after returning to the lineup.

But maybe things are different in Memphis. The team cheer, “Whoop That Trick,” is borrowed from a song by Memphis-born rapper Al Kapone, who claims the tune represents the “underdog.” Because of course “Whoop that trick” means underdog. And when I say “lemon wedge,” I mean “Tuesday.”

What actually makes sense, and how the rational world translates “Whoop that trick,” is how it is defined in the Urban Dictionary: delivering a “pimp slap.” And it is that kind of filth that is indulged by Adam Silver’s selective silence.

To that end, the late Tom Nissalke remains a heroic figure.

In December 1978, “troubled” Nets star Bernard King had more trouble. He was busted for cocaine possession, drunk driving and driving without a license.

Two nights later in a game at Piscataway’s Rutgers Athletic Center against the Rockets, who were coached by Nissalke, King was introduced as a starter to the usual crowd of about 6,000. King’s post-arrest return was met with scattered lukewarm applause or silence.

But John Sterling, the Nets’ radio voice and unabashed cheerleader, took care of that. From his courtside seat, Sterling stood, faced the crowd behind him and began to wildly gesture that they rise to applaud King. Several folks — perhaps out of embarrassment, perhaps out of adolescent ignorance — obeyed Sterling’s gestures.

Thus, King was given a partial standing ovation.

As the national anthem played, Nissalke charged from Houston’s bench, stopping in front of Sterling to sternly lecture him that the NBA had become infested with drugs, and that bush-league homers such as Sterling played into that scene.

Forty-five years later, Ja Morant received a standing ovation, no prompting needed.

It’s Tough to understand NFL teams that sign players as if a change of uniform will improve their characters.

The Dolphins last week traded for Rams CB Jalen Ramsey, a talented career misanthrope with three years and $46 million in base salary left on his contract.

While the Dolphins figure they’re on the precipice of a championship and view Ramsey as a missing piece that can get them there, the Rams view Ramsey as an overpaid salary dump.

Jalen Ramsey is introduced by the Dolphins

It was earlier with Jacksonville that Ramsey demonstrated that he’s strictly and conspicuously a me-first and me-only guy, even showing up at 2019 training camp in an armored truck, then demanding the Jags fill it with cash in order to retain him — then traded to the Rams later that year.

His off and on-field play has included fights, boastful trash talk, highly personal feuds in ugly action plus penalties and ejections for dirty play.

His greatest gift to pro football thus far is his ability to keep both sides in the game. Still, he remains a valued presence. But if the Dolphins are lucky, Ramsey’s behavior won’t cost them a win.

What are the origins of nonsense?

Reader Richard T. Monahan alerts us to a YouTube video of Nolan Ryan’s fifth no-hitter, as shown on NBC in 1981.

Ryan, with the Astros, pitched against the Dodgers’ Ted Power.

NBC’s Tony Kubek told boothmate Joe Garagiola that he’d spoken before the game with Dodgers’ pitching coach Ron Perranoski, who said Power lacked “arm discipline” and “location.”

Garagiola, a former catcher, said he was confused by the terminology. Kubek added that “speed” is now spoken as “velocity” and “control” is now called “location.”

And Garagiola couldn’t get over “arm discipline,” saying it was a “high-rent district term” that “sounds like a Madison Avenue PR campaign.”

Brooklyn born Marty Kaplan, an accountant of high regard and even author of a book about taxes, passed away March 10 at 83, and presumably at peace.

According to his family, that peace was attained last year with the fulfillment of what he’d worked decades to enjoy: the induction of Gil Hodges to the Hall of Fame.