|Do you hear that, Boston?|
Do you hear that Boston?
How do you know when your team is a joke? Let’s walk through the checklist:
Your “Star” player selfishly bails out on his teammates? – Check.
The head coach lost his players? – The players voted not to have...Eh Lets just say Yup!
Do they have a bad record? – One of the worst in league!
Is there off the court drama? – Just a little sexual harassment trial, that’s all. Nothing you lose your job for.
Face it; the Knicks have all the symptoms of a despicable team. In fact, it’s been such a horrible year that the Knicks even created a whole new medium to screw up: TV Commercials.
Trust me, you’ve seen the ads. (If you have the MSG Network, it’s impossible to avoid them.) Put it this way; you know your team is having a bad year when even the commercials they run turns into an embarrassing joke! Of course, I’m referring to the infamous “Formidable” commercial starring Knick super fan Jack Dempsey.
For those that haven’t seen the commercials, there is a series of ads that take real life hardcore Knick fans and have them talk about their fandom. There is the lovable blonde chick who claims she distracts Knick opponents by yelling “NO NO NO NO NO BRICK!!” There is the psychotherapist dude that seems to love David Lee a little bit too much then we need to know. Most importantly, there is Jack Dempsey, who seems most convinced that this year’s Knick team is a force. And as we all know, he went as far enough to publicly challenge the Boston Celtics weeks before the season even began.
To quote Jack,
“Curry, Zach Randolph, David Lee…That is a formidable frontline! Do you hear that Boston? Formidable? Do you even know what that word means?”
On the night of November 29, Boston responded. Let’s just say that the Celtics probably proved their point well enough to have that commercial banned, but immortalized on the internet for all the embarrassing reasons.
The fallout from the commercial was confined to some blogs, message board threads, and barroom jokes. The ire drawn to fans from the commercial made me think about the Knicks from another view. For the hardcore fans, it’s easy to make Jack another scapegoat, along with Marbury of course, for what is wrong with the franchise. However, after I made my mandatory Jack Dempsey jokes and message board threads, I thought of Knick commercials over the last couple of seasons. It didn’t take long to realize that the Knicks ad campaign has been embarrassing way before we met Jack.
Like last year’s “Take Me Home” debacle. Doug E. Fresh, (MC Hammer wasn’t available) slaughtered John Denver’s ballad into an annoying Hip Hop jingle that made you want to bash your face in with a frying pan until the commercial was over. It was cute for the little kids for about 2 weeks, but the ads ran so much that they became a regular block of scheduled programming on MSG. To add injury to insult, “Home” gave the Knicks the 4th worst record in the Eastern Conference! Someone at the Knicks camp even had the audacity to have an idea to charge Knick fans a price to download the song from the Knicks website.
A year before that, Spike Lee starred on Knick commercials by lugging along cardboard cut-outs of Larry Brown. Remember that season? Exactly. Whoops!
That’s 3 consecutive years of embarrassing commercials that put the Knicks in even more of an “image” hole. Its one thing when the on the court product is bad, but to have commercials point out how sad the team is…well that’s just wrong.
Back to Jack. I wondered if Jack Dempsey would become a quasi “Steve Barton” and hide from sports fans eagerly hoping to confront him. I wanted to hear Jack’s take on the Boston commercial, his thoughts on the team, and more about this new face of the everyday Knick fan. Well, it didn’t take long to find him. Before you read any further, I suggest you wipe out whatever notions you might have had on him out of your system. The commercial might have made him look foolish, but he’s just as pissed off about this team than any of you reading this column.
Jack Dempsey, an actor and ironically an Ad Executive himself, gave me his his thoughts about the commercial and other Knick items earlier this week.
(Richard Bertin) So, I have to ask, do you regret doing that “Boston” commercial? No offense to you, but the majority of fans seem to hate the TV spots.
(Jack Dempsey) No offense taken. I think the response is hilarious. All of this fuss over a.... commercial? So to answer your first question: No regrets.
(RB) Tell us about this season’s commercials?
(JD) I think they are fine. I think they got what they wanted. These were VERY low budget promos. There were about ten of us who got called in to shoot these. Five guys, five gals. I've only seen mine, Clyde’s, the blonde girl whose name I can't remember, Lacie? and the montage. They basically just asked questions like whose your all time favorite Knicks player, current player, why will these year be special, do you have any superstitions, etc... Then they just edited them together. Actually on mine, since there was all the talk about the big three from Boston, I thought I'd mention that the addition of Zach with Curry would give us our own "formidable" front line and at the end I said something like "you hear that Boston"? Then the director wanted to punch it up I guess so we did another take with "do you know what that means....look it up? So I guess I can't take all of the credit.
(RB) Did you get a chance to ask out the cute annoying blonde who yells BAM ?
(JD) My girlfriend asked me the same question. But I only saw her right before I went to do my spot. So the answer would be no.
(RB) How do you feel about this current team?
(JD) I think Michael Ray Richardson's legendary quote to a reporter sums it up best:
REPORTER: What do you think is happening to the team?
RICHARDSON: The ship be sinking.
REPORTER: How far can it sink?
RICHARDSON: Sky's the limit
(RB) How formidable is the Knicks front line after watching for a month?
(JD) Inconsistent at best. I still think that they can be good. But they have a lot to work on as we all can see.
(RB) Biggest Caner on the team?
(JD) Where to start? From the off season sexual harassment suit, to the "marquee" player leaving the team, to the 50 point debacle in Boston, it's hard to pick one thing. You couldn't write a better circus story than this. Call Mark Burnett, we’ve got our own reality show here.
(RB) I take it your not a Marbury fan?
(JD) I think its BS that any starter or any player for that matter would walk out on his team. Who really knows the whole story though? Steph said something about "knowing" things? I'd like to know what that is.
(RB) What would you want to say to that Knick fan that got caught on camera throwing his jersey on the floor?
(JD) I think the guy threw the wrong shirt, you saw that floral thing, right?
(RB) Lastly, wana throw out another challenge to Boston? I had to ask, Jack.
(JD) I'll throw something out when it gets closer to the rematch in January. [laughs] They should be the happiest fans on earth for the past few years they have had with the Pats, Sox, and now Celts. All of this has happened as we have gone into the worst championship dry spell in our New York sports history. Seven years. I'm talking Basketball, baseball, football, and hockey obviously. I guess timing is everything.
I think the takeaway here is how much of a disconnection exists betweens fans and the Knicks organization. It’s a culmination of a lot of organizational factors: Dolan’s totalitarian media blockade, Dolan’s propaganda lackeys attempting to spin every damaging story in the papers, and Knicks’clueless media department just to name a few.
Such factors as these certainly make being a Knick fan almost seems like a chore. Gone are the days when “GO NY, GO NY” was all we wanted to hear in the Garden. Fans didn’t need commercials to get them in the Garden. It was the team. That was all we needed.
These days, the Knicks are run like a team whose product is flawless. A team who refuses to listen to us, and shoves a stale product down our throats like our mothers used to force-feed us nasty vitamins while we cringed, but ultimately obliged because we couldn’t say no. They insult us fans by spending hours trying to think of ways to block bad publicity and hook us into buying tickets, when instead, all the focus should be on producing a winning team.
It’s one of darkest periods in Knicks history, and we can’t do anything but stomach it. We have no other choice. So how do we cope?
I’ll leave you with Jack’s words:
As a fan, it's obviously been a tough year. Off court, managerial things aside, a good start would be to protect the ball better, play defense and for someone to step up and be a leader.
Reggie Miller had a comment where he said something like the Garden used to be a place where the crowd was always in your ear and you got an elbow to the ribs from Starks. Maybe throughout the season the team will get a little more of that toughness back and give the fans something worthy to focus on rather than....commercials?
- by Richard Bertin
*Author’s note: For more about Jack, he invites you to visit his blog at:
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