The NBA Dribbled Out

So a few things have transpired since the Honey Nut Cheerios Gate of 2013. 

First, it was revealed Carmelo Anthony was fasting for the last couple weeks by refusing to eat carbohydrates or refusing protein-rich meat products as part of a yearly cleanse he does:

‘“It’s a long story, man,’ he said of his fast. ‘I haven’t had a good meal in about two and a half weeks. No meats, no carbs, anything like that. So I don’t know how I was out there competing at high level. It’s been some games this past week where your body just feels depleted out there and you’re trying to find a way to get some energy.

'But I surrender, I’m done. I’m going to get some food right now.'”

Maybe his growling stomach unduly inflamed his passions when faced with human motor mouth, Kevin Garnett. Primarily, a lot of people just blamed the lack of carbs and protein on his poor play of late: he’s shooting 42.3 percent from the field and 38.9 percent on 3-pointers in January after shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 42.6 from 3 in December. But that’s just the appetizer to the story. The real entrée was yet to come.  

Newark Star-Ledger columnist, Dave D’Alessandro first reported Knicks’ owner, and MSG Executive Chairman of the Board, James Dolan, instructed his Garden employees to use high-tech microphones near the court during the Knicks loss to the Bulls on Friday night, to record every last utterance of Carmelo Anthony.

Two audio technicians were stationed at two corners of the court — one a few feet just behind the Knicks bench, the other diagonally opposite — and they were holding those umbrella-shaped contraptions known as parabola microphones, which fed the audio into a DAT recorder on the truck on the loading dock. 

These guys had one directive from Dolan: Record every syllable Carmelo Anthony utters and absorbs while he’s on the court and on the bench, the Madison Square Garden CEO ordered them, and send the tape directly to me.

As you can probably guess, the blogosphere went up in a tizzy because, well, it’s an outré move, even for someone that pulls advertising when a blogger makes a BJ joke at their expense. So what were the theories behind Dolan’s peculiar move to record his star player when he was on the court?

D’Alessandro uses Garnett’s own words to caution Carmelo about engaging in the sort of verbal diarrhea that has become such a large—and it turns out, effective—part of Garnett’s game:

‘“But when you’re dealing with idiots who don’t know what they’re talking about or guys who are just talking out their (tail) or just talking out their mouth, then that’s a whole other level.’

It’s a level you shouldn’t bother trying to reach, the veteran was saying, or the game just gets away from you. 

That was a lesson from January 2009. The speaker was Kevin Garnett.

The sooner Carmelo Anthony memorizes it, the better the Knicks will be.”

So yeah, that’s a good point, but Dolan’s eavesdropping has only exacerabated a tough situation for Carmelo, so what do people think about that?

Deadspin’s, Tom Ley, lays out how the move by Dolan only makes Carmelo look bad, no matter which way you look at it:

"Either way, this does much more harm to Anthony’s reputation than the incident with Garnett ever could have. Garnett got under Anthony’s skin and Anthony overreacted. Things happen. But this spying business only serves to throw a magnifying glass over a situation that should have been easily moved on from. Now, Anthony is either an oversensitive baby who needs to tattle about all of the mean things that get said to him, or he is a hothead who needs to be under the constant, direct supervision of his employer."

That might not be the only reason, as BDL’s, Dan Devine, pointed out, it might have been in retaliation for getting scooped in his own arena, by network rivals. Devine quotes the report by Bob Raissman in the New York Daily News, where Raissman lays out the case that because Dolan’s rivals at Time Warner and Comcast Sportsnet featured video footage of the ruckus outside the Celtics team bus, the byproduct of which eventually led to the league suspending Carmelo for a game, is the real reason Dolan decided to get all Big Brother on his superstar:

"Dolan, the Cablevision boss, must be seething that his two cable rivals, companies he has done business battle with, cold busted his main man Anthony by providing all the video evidence the NBA needed to suspend him for Thursday night’s game with Indiana. […]

How did the NBA know Anthony “attempted to engage” Garnett after the game? The first piece of evidence was provided by the camera of Comcast SportsNet New England, covering the Celtics. The camera was near a ramp in the bowels of the Garden, where Boston’s bus was parked. The video showed Anthony lingering, waiting to confront Garnett.

On Wednesday, Time Warner-owned TMZ aired video, shot by an operative in the same area, of Anthony following after Garnett and the two exchanging words, which were barely audible. While the video was not exactly HD-quality, it painted an ugly picture of life outside the NBA bus, one that must have been cringe-inducing to David Stern.

Dolan, too. His skin was crawling for a different reason. These outlets came strolling into his house, the refurbished Garden, and had cameras in the right place at exactly the right time, providing enough video to thoroughly embarrass his organization and get Anthony suspended. It’s one thing to be busted, but when it’s done by the competition — ouch.”

Obviously, this has continued to be a story, primarily—it can be said now—because James Dolan is a nitwit that didn’t think about what his actions would do to Carmelo, the guy who has to actually perform under the spotlight against crazy competitors looking for any edge, like Garnett. The only reason I can write that about Dolan without any fear of retribution (and why Devine, Ley, and others could write negatively about Dolan) is because Dolan doesn’t pay me—or this website—advertising money.*

[Newark Star-Ledger; Ball Don’t LieDeadspinNew York Daily News]

Here are some more reactions from around the web about Dolan’s “surreptious” recording of Carmelo:

*This is an ad-free blog (though I wish it weren’t because I am quite poor), and maybe Dolan’s company does advertise with Gawker Media owned Deadspin and Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie blog, but I’m gonna go ahead and guess not. 

UPDATE: Carmelo responds to Dolan microphones

"I got an owner that looks out (for me)…You can’t beat that.”

This Knicks season is absurd. 

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