The STAT Chapter

My husband was told he’d have to have emergency colon cancer surgery. (How’s that for a lead.) My executive producer at MSG, and my Knicks game producer told me to take off as much time as I needed. As I talked to doctors and my husband’s family, we decided he’d have the surgery on October  27th, 2010, I would stay with him that night to make sure everything was okay, then, the morning of the 28th, I would take a 6 AM flight to Toronto, because, “I have to be at Amar’e’s first game.”  

On the 29th, I was back at my husband’s side after taking a 6 AM flight from Boston, back to New Jersey. Today, my cancer free husband and I joke about this all the time.

On February 10, 2015, the sun was shining in warm Orlando. At Knicks practice that morning, there was talk of going to Universal Studios, Epcot, sitting in the lazy river at the hotel pool. It sounded so good, after a 10-42 start, grueling schedule, and below freezing temperatures at home. But no … I had to get to Lake Wales, because “It could be my last shoot for Amar’e. I need to cover this before his last game.” I’m not always right. And hate that I was, February 10th.

We are supposed to be unbiased sports journalists. But, I’m a compassionate human too.  And I like people.  Good people.  Oh, and news flash: I’ve been a Knicks fan since I was 12. I also know basketball pretty darn well for someone who hasn’t made a jumper since senior year gym class.  Before watching thousands of NBA games in person from the court, I grew up in a family of basketball coaches. And every Friday night in the winters I was either watching my mom’s cousins coaching basketball games at the high school and college level, or cheering at a game. I never missed a home Maryland Terrapins women’s or men’s game in 4 years, and covered the Terps my junior and senior year.   So no need to post on my social media about Amar’e’s contract, or the fire hydrant, or the Boston post season back injury. I was under that back board when Amar’e slapped the glass, saw it happen, and watched him grab his back until the first free throw when he called out. And I saw his blood on the Knicks locker room floor in Miami, it was in 3D. And I’m well aware of the injuries, and post season record.  I’ve reported on it ALL.  But I will miss this man and his family tremendously. And haven’t stopped looking at photos I’ve collected.  

My husband says to me, “He didn’t die, he went to a contender, you know the business of basketball better than anyone with all the moves you’ve covered … ” But this is different.

When I was interviewing “Duane from Lake Wales”, seventeen years old,  6’6″ and growing… I asked him, “What does it mean to you that Amar’e has refurbished this court, where you play basketball?” Duane took a deep breath. His eyes immediately glassed over. The linings got red.  He could barely talk, saying, “He got out of here.” I assured him, it’s okay, “I know you’re emotional, why does Amar’e make you like this, how does he inspire you?” Duane took a moment and got out, “Because he proves, if you work hard, in school, in basketball, you can get out. He had it worse than me. He fixed this court for us now. It makes it easier for us. Even if I’m not in the NBA, I want to be like him.” Under my sun glasses, my eyes did the same. This is the Amar’e I know.

See, over the last 5 years, I’ve covered the ups and downs of the Knicks. Ups and downs of Amar’e Stoudemire. Asked the question, on July 5th, 2010, “Why are you wearing this Knicks hat, What do you have to say?” With a booming voice answering, “The Knicks are Back.”

And they were. The 9 consecutive 30-point games, setting a new Knicks franchise record, was a pleasure to watch. Along with the MVP-caliber play the first half of the 2010-11 season. 

I know Knicks fans know his story, numbers, surgeries all from there. And I saw it all.

Here’s what I also saw: a relentless competitor. A resilient athlete. A loving father. I watched Amar’e become a husband. And … let me into his life. In a candid interview in the fall of 2012, he really let me into the personal side.  Always TV savvy, desiring some type of post basketball career in entertainment is inevitable … Amar’e and his PR group, assistant, agency, were extremely helpful in helping me put together, what we at MSG felt, was an important story, about Amar’e the person, and his “STAT fam”. Texting me photos from his private wedding in almost real time. Providing the only picture he has of his late father. And arranging a sit down with his wife, Alexis and kids! 

 

 

Here’s the feature:
Whether it was our conversations on how much his 4th baby now weighs, or the latest movie to see, or what new bag I was carrying, or what he bought his wife for the holidays, or my shoes, or his hats … Amar’e is a fun, intelligent, positive person to talk to.

What I’ll miss most, is seeing him in the hotel gyms at 7 AM every road trip.  The guy gave it 120%. His body may have betrayed him at times, but he never betrayed the process. “Tina, Tina! You getting at it this morning! Upper or lower body today?” Or … if he didn’t see me in the gym, “TINA! I didn’t see you in the work out room. You slacking?” He would check in on me when I was doing a vegan cleanse, and make sure I was doing similar recovery routines as he and his NBA counterparts when I was training for the marathon. He also kept me updated on his wife’s training the following year. “You runners are nuts,” he said on the team plane once.

It’s these little exchanges I’ll miss the most. Every exchange, a demonstration of his constant positvity and outlook on life. A life that had some very dark times.

On the professional side, he was always accessible as a Knicks player.  He got us at MSG. Always giving me time, answering my questions, giving me nuggets even while running down a hall. Or around a corner where I couldn’t see him, but could hear his voice yelling back. Never saying no to a request. During the 2013-14 season, one of the Knicks PR officials and I always hoped Amar’e would have a good game on “Friday Night Knicks”. Why? He would start the on-court, walk-off interview with “Shabbat Shalom!” We got a kick out of that. Yet he truly meant it.

And, in an act, I’d like to think of as respect, with dozens of reporters standing around his locker after each game, as he would be finishing getting dressed, putting on one of his infamous hats, readying for the lights and cameras and questions, always saying first … “Tina, you ready?”

From a book I know Amar’e has read and studied, “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.  I leave you, STAT with this quote:

“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”

I hope this new opportunity brings you the only thing you have ever strived for, since playing hoops on that ragged, gang surrounded court in Lake Wales, Florida during your youth … a Championship.

Shalom. 

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Tina’s Team Ta-Ta’s

Yes, THOSE Ta-Ta’s. And now that I have your attention, let me explain:

This is just another example about how much joy YOU can recieve … by doing a little deed to help other people in need.  On my new website, you can learn about why I am so involved in charities, and the various foundations I work with … now it’s time for another adventure … to build Tina’s Team Ta-Tas.

If you are here … then… consider yourself recruited.

I’m looking to build a powerful, successful, FUN team … to raise money to keep all women’s ta-ta’s healthy and I’d love for you to join me!

I’d love you to join me! I am the Prez, GM, Coach & Captain of “Tina’s Team Ta-Ta’s” who will be participating in The MoonWalk New York City 2014… These are not your New York Knicks. The MoonWalk New York City 2014 is a Power Walking Marathon … BUT TEAM TA-TA’S ONLY HAS TO DO THE HALF MARATHON OPTION! You’re welcome.

I know you already have a great awareness of your own health & fitness OR you might be one of the marathoners I ran the NYC marathon with this year … SO NO EXCUSES!!! MoonWalk NYC takes place OVERNIGHT – July 26th/27th. The gun goes off at 10 PM. The event raises funds and of course, awareness, for breast cancer causes as walkers wear bedazzled bras (YES, BRAS … we will get to that in a bit) and fundraise for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Breast Examination Center in Harlem (BECH), which provides breast cancer screenings for underserved, Harlem women at no out of pocket cost.

This cause has touched my heart. First, Cancer Sucks. It took my grandmother, friends, friend’s mothers, aunts, uncles, family friends, teachers, teammates, classmates, etc. I’m sure it has taken of a loved one of yours, or maybe YOU are a survivor, like my girl, Christina Thompson!! Second, my High School Cheerleading Coach “Miss Fran” recently battled and beat breast cancer. It was not easy. She was a fighter. And SHE was the person (struggeling through chemo and radiatio at the time) who encouraged my husband, Kevin McKearney, to stay strong and never give up when HE was diagnosed with colon cancer. Again, Cancer Sucks. But Kevin & Miss Fran beat it because of early detection, testing, and great medical care. Yet, there are women that do not have the finances to even get the first test. That is why BECH is such an important place & benefactor.

Now back to the FUN: MoonWalk NYC 2014 is a FANTASTIC & UNIQUE New York City event for this incredibly important cause. I would love for YOU to join and/or donate to my team. Here’s what I’m thinking: since we HAVE to wear only BRAS … yes, I repeat … you wear a BRA while walking in this event … and we’ll be decorating our bras! I’m thinking for our team, let’s show our favorite sports team’s colors! Example: I will be repping in a blue and orange themed bra. (However, I’m not sure if I have the guts to strategically place two basketballs. Ya know what I mean!) Please contact via Twitter: @TinaCervasio … if you’re pumped to Power Walk for breast cancer and want to join “Tina’s Team Ta-Ta’s”.

If you can’t do the walk … please donate to this great cause by clicking here: SUPPORT TINA & TEAM TA-TA’S

Now watch this amazing video:

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Kevin from Church (w/ added video)

Yes, my husband’s name is Kevin. However, this entry isn’t about him. But … he does know this Kevin.

VERBATIM phone conversation from 5 PM, Tuesday, May 6, 2014:

Me: Mom, remember Kevin from church. The NBA player that hugged you the first time I took you guys to Hillsong?

Mom: Yes! He was so nice. Plays in Oklahoma. Dad said he’s good.

Me: Turn on channel 206 now, he’s on, he’s been named NBA MVP, he’s about to speak.

Mom: That means he’s the best player in the leauge. The best. Best in the world.

Me: YES!

Mom: See, because he goes to church, loves his mom & hugged me!

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In June 2013, I found a new church in Hillsong NYC. @hillsongNYC Long story. I’ll tell it some day. In a nut shell, I’ve been searching for a home church since I graduated college. Long time. Okay … so I found it … and excitedly took my parents the following Sunday. I was also sitting with my friend Darwin @PandaSal and he suddenly hit me during the singing/concert part of the service and said, “That’s Durant.” As …. well …. Kevin Durant sat in front of us. I turned to my parents and all my dad did was descritely point and nod. My mom, didn’t know, and I leaned in and simply said, “Mom, that’s Kevin Durant, he plays basketball for the Oklahoma City Thunder, I’ve interviewed him a few times. Great kid. Loves his mom. She’s at all his home games.”

Checking out his surroundings, Durant turned around. I gave a little wave and he leaned in. I said, “Kevin, I’m Tina …” and started going into my resume, because it was dark, I actually didn’t interview him in a while since ABC snatches all our Knicks vs OKC games, and he stopped me and said, “From the Knicks!” My mom was holding my arm and I quickly said, “This is my mom.” Durant immediatly leaned in and gave her a little hug with his long arms … the kind of “akward lean-in” that only a 6’10” world class athlete can give a 5’4″ lifelong teacher & educator. That’s Kevin Durant.

I relived that hug he gave my mom, with each mini thank you speech he gave to every one of the other 14 players on the Thunder roster, as he spoke after recieving the 2013-14 Kia NBA MVP award. Giving each of his teammates that same hug with his words. Grateful. Humble. Loving.

Almost one year later, I came to truly realize why he did embrace my mom … when he went into the most incredible tribute, to his mother. “…my mom… You’re the real MVP.”

Later in the that church service, we get 4 minutes to socialize, meet the people around us. Durant immediately turned around, and wrapped his 7’4″ wingspan around Maria Cervasio, again. That’s Kevin Durant. NBA MVP. 5-Time NBA All-Star. 4-time Scoring Champion. Rookie of the Year. Olympic Gold Medalist. KD. Son.

To my mom… he’s “Kevin from church.”

Maria Cervasio

 

 

 

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This is not a joke. I hope.

As I unpacked in my hotel room in Salt Lake City, Utah, the same room I was assigned to last year, I realized, this was the last place I wrote an entry in my blog. Sure enough, I checked. It was over a year ago. March 18, 2013. On Carmelo’s knee. That night’s game was all about Kurt Thomas playing on a broken foot and saving the Knicks season. On March 31, 2014, Melo did all he could, on both ends of the court, to maybe save the Knicks season as well. We won’t know the outcome of that story until the Knicks clinch or get eliminated from a playoff spot. But this blog will not be about the Knicks. Kinda. That’s for my MSG work. This is going to be a little learning tool. I hope. Or I’ll look like a tool, starting this thing up again on a Fool’s Day.

This really is going to be “Tina’s Notebook.” I don’t talk in the third person. That’s simply the title of my blog. But as I update my website, it would make sense to keep these entries updated. I have a lot of stories to tell. Not about the Knicks, but yes, many of these stories occur when I am at work, and traveling with the Knicks. Such as the horrific fashion faux pas the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving was experiencing … which I noticed … and alerted their courtside reporter, Allie Clifton. She then alerted the Cavs trainer …. and this is what we call a “tease” in television … so you’ll have to keep following my blog to read what Irving’s faux pas was.

I will also literally show you my notebook. This stems from my desire to continue what I do monthly, educate and inform inspiring sports journalists and announcers about the industry. When I speak at college classes, from my alma matter at the University of Maryland, to St. John’s, to Columbia graduate classes, many student ask me, “Do you write down your questions?” Sometimes I do. Sometimes I just jot down topics. Sometimes it’s on the fly because of a game winning basket. There’s a whole unpredictable dynamic that happens in the last 3 minutes of an NBA game … I’ll take you through it. It’s funny at times. Lame other times. Exciting a good amount of the time. Sometimes historic. I’ve saved every notebook from when I covered the Red Sox with NESN (2006-07) to last night’s win over Utah by the Knicks (and I’ve been on their court since 2008), plus my Red Bulls notebooks as well. I’ll show you my notes, post game prep, pre game prep … and all the random stuff that never makes it on the air.

So, you want to be a sideline reporter? I’ve got interviews set up with most of the 30 court side reporters from around the NBA. I’ve already screen captured a text exchange between me and my big brother, (in the NBA court side world) Jason Jackson from HEAT TV. He tabbed #CourtsideClub … and if you follow us on twitter you’ve seen the obnoxious selfies.

There’s more to it than selfies. We have fun, but we do have a serious job. (no we don’t, we sit on a basketball court, sometimes next to the bench, and report on basketball … it’s amazing!!!!) But IT. IS. A. JOB. AND we understand each other’s schedule, demands, etc, so there’s a unique bond. We could care less what “team” the other works for. We are not fans. Wait. I lied. We are fans of each other. So it’s never a “Knicks vs. HEAT” thing. And as I introduce you to everyone, you’ll learn how each of our roles, at our respective networks, covering our respective teams, varies GREATLY. Same title. Different assignments. Same goal: add more to the broadcast to complement what the the play-by-play announcer and analyst are doing from their post, bring to the table what they can’t see, what viewers and fans would be interested in … and bring the athlete into the fan’s home with our interviews.

Then there’s my “notes” from my iPhone. You know the app. I’ve been keeping a journal / jot down, kinda pad thing there as well. From inspirational quotes, to Bible versus, to wonderful things people have said to me, to horrible things people have said to me, to bewildered moments when I just write from my string of consciousness. I think we will have fun breaking these things down, and we may have in common. Experiences. Life. That kind of stuff. It may get serious. Personal. Or not.

I also have a lot to share about: travel (30 NBA Cities / 30 spots I can recommend), fitness & food (I do a lot of both, which is why I am healthy but not skinny), packing … oh, I’m going to rip some people in that one … I already have a title for that entry: “No Sh!t my bags are heavy!” Family (lessons I teach my nieces), friends (Boston Girls Weekends & Women in Sports Power dinners), “True Blood” (I hosted a character costume party, I was the maenad MaryAnn), “Game of Thrones” (I want to mother dragons), marathons (3 and counting. yes, mom, I want to run another), golf (#confession I play to wear the clothes.), church, makeup, cats ( I have 2 now. And my late, first #kitteh is a LEGEND), husbands (I’ve only had one, I love him more than ever right now.), my all female fantasy league … I have yet to win.

If you are still reading … let’s be friends forever.
Regardless, my goal is that you can learn something from each entry.

As far as today’s entry, you will not learn your thing, until next week; Will I really be committed to this? If I write again … great. You will learn things. If I never write again … you will have learned; I’m not very disciplined.

Love, T
xoxo

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The latest on Carmelo Anthony’s Knee.

Carmelo Anthony is in Utah and worked out during Knicks shoot around this morning on the side, but he will not play tonight against the Jazz. He, Tyson Chandler and Kurt Thomas are listed as questionable.

During the workout, Anthony ran, did lateral movements, drove to the hoop, repeated layups, jumpers, free throws and looked to be moving significantly better than when we last saw him take himself out of the Denver game Wednesday.

When Carmelo was finished, drenched in sweat, he came over an talk to the media for the first time in 5 days saying … since getting his right knee drained in New York on Thursday: “I feel better, I feel much better.”

He has absolutely no more discomfort, says he has his mobility back, and the stiffness he had in his right knee, before the fluid was drained … is all gone.

Carmelo says he can feel the difference and it is like “night and day … being able to move laterally, jump.” He hopes now to get back to what he was doing on the court before this stiffness started over 3 weeks ago.

His knee felt better Saturday. While Carmelo said “they day after was tough”, he said two days after getting his knee drained, he felt like his knee was “back to normal because their wasn’t (anymore) fluid in there. Now it’s just a matter of getting that pop back, that power back.”

After going back to New York on Thursday, Carmelo said he learned from doctors, the fluid in the back of the knee was caused by a slight hamstring pull or some type of injury with his hamstring. He reiterated all this discomfort over the last three weeks, was in the back of the knee, and this injury had nothing to do with the actually structure of the knee, any of the ligaments. He says he had tweaked his hamstring a little bit, the muscle was tight, and fluid drained from there. Carmelo says he is comfortable with this diagnosis, and saw all the results “with my own eyes rather than somebody just telling me.”

The plan now is to take it day-by-day. Carmelo plans to work out again tonight at Energy Solutions Arena before the his Knicks teammates play the Jazz, and get a couple of workouts in tomorrow back in New York, and see how he feels on Wednesday and take it from there. He did not rule out playing Wednesday at home versus the Magic, but he didn’t say he would be ready to play either.

Carmelo says there are no plans, or need for any further procedures on his right knee at the end of the season, he says, “I feel good, my knee feels good, my body feels good.” And there is no concern that the hamstring would produce any more fluid, “it was from me just over compensating, with my knee … the hamstring … just trying to use one without the other, just playing and not giving it rest, not taking care of it ahead of time. Like I said I was being a bit naive with myself.”

The Knicks are struggling on this road trip, now 0-4, yet they are still hanging around the top of the Eastern Conference. Carmelo says even though the team has had a rough road trip, “Our confidence is still there. We’re second/third in the Eastern Conference, top of our division and we’re just trying to get everybody back, everybody healthy… to make this run.”

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A Brilliant Time in London with the Knicks (VIDEO)

On January 14, 2013, the New York Knicks traveled to London, England to be part of “NBA London” and play the Detroit Pistons at the O-2 Arena on January 17th. Of course, MSG Network went across the pond with the team, to broadcast the Knicks, first ever regular season game played overseas. It was a short 3 day stay in London, but it was jammed packed with activities, covering Knicks at local basketball clinics, charity events, sightseeing … why don’t you just WATCH:

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The Today Show with KLG & Hoda (VIDEO)

This is just hilarious. My colleague & friend at MSG Network, Jill Martin (who does all of the celebrity row interiews during the Knicks games at Madison Square Garden in “New York Minute”) is also a fashion expert on The Today Show. I don’t know what the heck we were talking about one day during a game when she asked me if I wanted to model new fitness trends during her segment. So I said yes. I was free that day, home … why not? Little did I now I’d be wearing the shortest of short shorts! For just a second though … well, check out this little clip & understand. And to be totally honest, like Jill says, when you have new, cute workout clothes and gear … it does motivate you to get out there and get it done!! Throw away those ripped college Tee’s and put on a dress! YES! Now watch——->

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Pre-season Interview with Knicks Jason Kidd (VIDEO)

I was flipping through saved links on my computer and came across this interview I did with Jason Kidd on Knicks Media Day, back on October 1, 2012. As I talked to Kidd for NBA TV  in one corner of the MSG Training Facility, other Knicks met with the media in a press conference in the other corner. An exciting and fun day for anyone who covers the NBA.

It’s intriguing to see, all of Kidd’s answers have come to pass up to this point for the Knicks this season.  At 23-11 and currently leading the Atlantic Division and a half game back of Miami in the Eastern Conference, it is clear the Knicks are a changed team compared to previous seasons. And much of the credit could go to future Hall of Famer, Jason Kidd.

Despite turning 40 this coming March, Kidd has exceeded expectations as a mentor to Raymond Felton.  He is the Knicks starting point guard with Felton out until the end of January with a broken finger.  Kidd has started 29 of 30 games played, when he was never expected to be a starter for the Knicks when he was signed.  With that, Kidd is averaging 30 minutes a game.  Did I mention he turns 40 in three months? Kidd’s leadership and veteran advice has benifted all the Knicks on and off the court.  Every player speaks of Kidd in glowing terms after each game and … well watch for yourself.  Kidd knew he had a purpose for this Knicks team when he signed with New York, and nearly half way through the season, he has more than followed through.

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VIDEO interview: Tyson Chandler named NBA Defensive Player of the Year

For the first time in New York Knicks Franchise History, a player is named Defensive Player of the Year in the NBA. Knicks Center Tyson Chandler ends the 3 year reign of Orlando’s Dwight Howard as the 2011-2012 winner. It is an honor, well deserved of the 7-1 gentle giant. Chandler was signed to bring a defensive presence, and not only did he become the anchor of the Knicks defense, he changed the culture of the team on that end of the court.

While maniacal on the court, Chandler is soft spoken in the post game locker room, but it’s evident, while not holding the title “captain” he does have the loudest voice on the team. As a leader, mentor and role model. Now, Chandler’s name is added to the “big names” (as he refers to the them) on the list of players voted to win this award going back to the 1982-1983 season … “1982, that’s the year I was born,” Chandler says in the interview.

Click play below for my one-on-one conversation on MSG Network with the 11 year veteran, NBA Champion … and now, 2011-12 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Knicks Center Tyson Chandler.
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VIDEO: Interview with Knicks Iman Shumpert on return to Chicago

On March 12, 2012 the New York Knicks traveled to Chicago to take on the Eastern Conference leading Chicago Bulls.  Knicks rookie, Iman Shumpert, a Chicago native, would be living a dream.  Not only is the 6-5  guard already achieving a life-time goal, playing in the NBA for one of their flagship franchises, but when the Bulls hosted the Knicks, he would be playing in the United Center for the first time.  Growing up with three brothers, they were all huge Bulls fans.  And as Shumpert tells me in this interview for the MSG Knicks Game Night pre-game show … he “wanted to be like Mike”.  Of course, like many young boys of his generation growing up in the greater Chicago area, Michael Jordan was his inspiration, his hero.  And you can hear the reverence in the 22 year old’s voice, as he tells me the story of meeting his idol for the first time.

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