Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thanks, George Vescey

You know those obnoxious guys at NBA arenas who yell and scream for the fans to "MAKE SOME NOOOOOOIIIIIIISSSSE!!!"? Well back in 2005, if you can believe it, I out-obnoxioused them all as on-court host of the New Jersey Nets. At least according to curmudgeonly George Vecsey, a journalistic combination of Statler and Waldorf:

Nets' Move to Brooklyn Is Truth in Advertising

I can't say I disagreed with his take entirely. But I was a little bummed that his article cost me my job. Especially when the "powers that be" (also read, "douchebag") told me before Game 3 between the Heat and Nets, with the Nets trailing 2-0 and looking awful, "Make sure you get this crowd going crazy...I want them on their feet and making noise from the minute they get to their seats. Let's blow the roof off this place!"

That would be no small task at Continental Airlines Arena, where seats are always available and the fans are notoriously apathetic (as a whole, not individually - don't kick my ass, you rarer-than-a-Sasquatch, die-hard Nets fan!) even in the playoffs. In fact, just before tipoff of the crucial final game of the season against the Washington Wizards, I implored the crowd from the court to make some noise, saying, "I can't hear you!" One of the Wizards responded with a sneer as I walked by their bench, "Neither can we." Ouch.

On this night however, as a direct result of the newfound energy in the arena, due in no small part to my party catalyst efforts, the Nets played their best, going to double overtime in dramatic fashion before finally succumbing to a far superior team.

So I did exactly what the Nets' marketing geniuses asked of me. They told me so after the game, and thanked me for my superlative efforts. But after reading Vecsey's article on Sunday before do-or-die Game 4 at the Meadowlands, they told me essentially to mellow out, tone down the act and "not be so loud". Funny, I thought the amplification settings on the PA system were responsible for the volume of my voice transmitted through the microphone. What was I thinking?

My point? Nets management completely changed their approach to their playoff presentation in a must-win home playoff game based on one obsolete sports journalist's opinion. Probably because it was voiced in the Sunday New York Times which had a circulation of 1.7 million. But still! Show some balls and stick to your guns! Typical marketing pussies. That's right, I dropped a p-bomb. I hope your delicate eyes can handle it.

I'm okay now, I swear. That was three years ago, and I'm very glad to not be doing that job anymore. They decided to go with someone else the following preseason after asking me to try to be a bit "hipper and cooler", which I think meant not as white and not as goofy.

What I have to show for my efforts (besides a NJ Nets shirt with "Flyin' Ryan" printed on the back) is this bit of worldwide publicity that makes me feel a bit silly, but also very proud.

"Another so-called improvement is making the joint noisier than a Nascar 500-miler. A hyperactive bloke named Flyin' Ryan, on some kind of salt-and-sugar overload or other chemical imbalance, screams into a hand-held microphone and dives chest first onto the court. Apparently, this assault on the senses is what sports fans want, in which case our society has only 15 minutes left, and there is no point in buying season tickets to anything."


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