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.


Posted in NBA, New York Knicks | Comments Off on VIDEO interview: Tyson Chandler named NBA Defensive Player of the Year

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.

Posted in NBA, New York Knicks | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on VIDEO: Interview with Knicks Iman Shumpert on return to Chicago

Spreecast Video: Tina Talk’s TWolves (& Knicks) w/FSN Reporter Rob Incmikoski

Posted in NBA, New York Knicks | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Spreecast Video: Tina Talk’s TWolves (& Knicks) w/FSN Reporter Rob Incmikoski

Tina Talks To…Olympic Gold Medalist: Angela Ruggiero / Women’s Ice Hockey

Posted in Olympics | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Tina Talks To…Olympic Gold Medalist: Angela Ruggiero / Women’s Ice Hockey

Tina’s Knicks Knotebook Week 2 (Jan. 15)

Every Saturday, I’ll dump my notebook for you with the previous week’s news, notes, quotes, mini stories and links to reports or  interviews, that I’ve collected from practice, shootaround, games.  Some of these reports you may have seen on the MSG Knicks Broadcast, but most of my reports don’t make it to the sidelines. But I want to get all that I’ve covered, out there in a timely bases.  That’s why I give fans … Tina’s Notebook!!

What are the Knicks doing … after the lineups are introduced and they huddle up?????

Since the first game of the pre-season versus New Jersey, the Knicks are doing something they didn’t do last year.  They all form a circle, put their arms around each other, and sway.  It’s hard to see, but Iman Shumpert is in the middle of the circle, on the floor, in what looks like he’s polishing the floor.  Well, here’s what’s going on…

Shumpert told me, in that first preseason game, he didn’t realize what the team was doing when they locked arms, and he got stuck in the middle.  So he dropped to his knees, and did something he’s been doing since high school.  He writes out, with his hand on the court, K N I C K S, the writes out the opponent … either city or team name.  As Shumpert does this the team sways.  Then, Shumpert stands up, and stomps on the opponents name, the team follows.  Even when Shumpert was out four 4 games with a knee injury, he got on the floor, had to keep his knee straight, sometimes take off his dress jacket, and went through the ritual.  The only game Shumpert did write out the team names in the circle was the Sacramento game, because he was still in the training room getting worked on by the training staff.

No one can explain his injury better, than the man himself.  Here’s Carmelo Anthony on MSG before the Knicks played the Oklahoma City Thunder, with updates on his ankle and wrist injuries.

LINK: Carmelo Anthony on ankle, wrist injuries on MSG Network.

Anthony has been dealing with quite a few bumps and bruises, aches and pains already this season … here’s my report before the Pistons Game in Detroit, Saturday, January 8, on his back/hip/groin/ injury. (Also included here is the news of Iman Shumpert joining the starting lineup and Toney Douglas going to the Bench)

LINK: Tina Cervasio talks with Bill Pidto about Carmelo Anthony’s injury and a change in the starting lineup

On MSG’s Knicks Game Night before the Philadelphia 76ers game at Madison Square Garden, Wednesday, I got the latest on why Iman Shumpert was getting cramps at the end of games, and what he and the Knicks training staff are doing to eliminate them.

While I talked to Shumpert at his locker, he was drinking water with electrolytes, several bottles of blue Gatorade, and eating a huge bowl of fruit.  Mostly fresh watermelon.  Here’s why …

LINK: Tina Cervasio reports on the situation with Iman Shumpert continually getting cramps late in games

At the morning shoot around  in Oklahoma City, I had a great conversation with Bill Walker, who was starting for the injured Carmelo Anthony:

After the win over Philadelphia, Tyson Chandler gave credit to Bill Walker for playing smart defense, making heads up plays on some of the Sixers top scorers, and switching and rotating at the right time.  Walker says, after playing a season and a half with the Knicks (since being traded to New York in February 2010 from Boston) this year, “there’s a different focus, different approach to defense, our whole attitude is geared towards defense.” Walker points out that Chandler brings and unbelievable amount of intensity, specifically on the defensive end. “When you have one of your best players doing that, everyone follows. I see that, and I want to win on the level he’s won.”

As the Knicks try to come together as a team, overcoming a short training camp and condensed schedule that eliminates practice time, Walker says the Knicks defense is “predicated on helping the helper.  Then you can trust, when you’re defending your man, there will be help for you.” As the Knicks continue showing the help, and getting the results, the trust will continue to build, and there will be less errors when players rotate.

It’s a joint effort guarding All-Star Kevin Durant.  Starting for Anthony, and with the way the Knicks were matching up, Walker was preparing for one of the great challenges in the NBA, guarding Durant.  “It’s his length.  He has a 7-foot wing span. That makes it even harder.  You have to try to make his catches more difficult, make his looks more difficult, you can’t keep a guy like that from scoring, you just have to contest everything.  It’s a great challenge for me, I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

When Anthony knew he wasn’t going to be playing Saturday he said the team knows I’m not there, they will all step up.  Walker says without Anthony, the key is to “not change anything, do what you have to do. Everyone has to do what they’re good at.  It’s not one guy stepping up, I’m not playing FOR Melo, everybody has to give a  concerted effort and play their best game.”

  • Iman Shumpert said the Memphis game was “a bitter pill to swallow”  after shooting 5 –of-20 from the floor.  He took responsibility saying, “I played a bad game.  Criticism follows. I’m fine with that,” because he knows what he did wrong and what he has to do better.  Shumpert says he was attacking, and trying to play aggressive, but he rushed some shots, especially in transition.  He says he’s even more upset with the 6 turnovers he had, and he has to do a better job with handling the ball, again, especially in transition.” Shumpert is a rookie, still picking up things, and learning game by game.
Posted in New York Knicks | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Tina’s Knicks Knotebook Week 2 (Jan. 15)

Tina’s Knicks Knotebook Week 1 (Jan. 7)

Time to open my reporter’s notebook for Knicks fans. Some of my sideline reports made it to the MSG Broadcast, some did not. As you’ll see, these are
straight notes, quotes and mini stories.

Amar’e Stoudemire told me he was aware the Wizards had a players-only meeting Thursday. He said that those meetings are good for teams, because you get the chance to clear the air and it gets everyone on the same page.

The background story on the meeting: theWizards’ Nick Young told the media that his team discussed how  they have to play for each other. Young has looked dejected this week and said he’s tired of losing. Washington is searching for its first win and looking for some kind of chemistry and structure. It’s his fourth year in Washington and he’s sick of having “another one of those seasons.”

Iman Shumpert Update: When the rookie cramped up Wednesday, it wasn’t because he was dehyrdrated, it was because he hadn’t played in over a week and had played nearly 30 minutes against the Bobcats. Shumpert said he suffered from cramps in college often. Trainers have told him that it’s the type of athlete he is and the way his muscles react because he sweats a lot. He’s always been a person who has to hydrate more often than other guys. He was taking the trainers’ advice, because he was drinking two big sports drinks while I was talking to him.

• Coach Mike D’Antoni is going to be sticking with Toney Douglas and Landry Fields in the backcourt for a number of reasons. While Shumpert energizes the team and The Garden crowd, he still is a rookie and is playing in his third game of his career. D’Antoni said he doesn’t give Shumpert too much too quick, and he’ll still have a lot of minutes off the bench. The coach said he sees Shumpert as a shooting guard and making a change this early in the season could affect the psyche of Fields. “I want to make sure everyone is good and confident,” D’Antoni said. “Any time you throw a pebble in the water, there’s ripples.”

Carmelo Anthony said after the loss to the Bobcats that the team has to learn to trust each other on the defensive end. I asked him today how do the Knicks go about building that trust? “Just doing it!,” he said. “By making stops, playing good defense in practice, in shootaround, in games … we have to be repetitive to a point where you KNOW guys will be talking.”

• Melo also had lots of family and friends from the Baltimore area at the game, though not as many as his first few years in the NBA. “I used to have bus loads coming here,” he told me. He did say he was going to have a group of kids from his recreation center he started through his charity. He helped raise money for the charity during the lockout by having barnstorming games during the NBA lockout.

• The focus of practice in the last two days has been eliminating mistakes on both ends of the court. Carmelo said the focus yesterday was all visual, watching film and trying to pick out exact points where they were out of position or missing assignments. During the shootaround today, the team made sure all those adjustments were in place and everyone was on the same page.

• If you think about it, the Knicks started practicing Dec. 9 and it’s Jan. 5. In a normal season, training camp and the preseason would be JUST be wrapping up at this point.

• During the last two games, Tyson Chandler noticed some of the players’ body language, seeing heads or shoulders drop if a player gave up a shot. Chandler said he jumps right in and tells them to get their heads up and make sure you get your man the next time.  “You’re not on an island, we have to defend as a team,” he said. If you bring energy, contest every shot and the whole team does that, we’ll be effective”.

• Chandler’s cheering, jumping up on the sidelines and screaming on defense is NOT an act. This is his identity and he wants the entire team to do it. He said the Knicks need to bring more energy and more focus from the tip on both ends of the court. He can gauge the energy by how much guys are talking on defense. He told the team that they had to be accountable for their energy and effort. The players have to police each other and encourage each other. When playing well, mistake-free basketball becomes natural for a team.

• Chandler also said that the loss to Charlotte was a real wake-up call for the entire team. He told everybody that the team should learn from the defeat and that it’s better to struggle now then later on in the season. One specific error on defense that he pointed out was that the Knicks let the Bobcats take the shots they wanted to take, especially Boris Diaw. Chandler said they have to funnel the ball away from the best shooters.

• The slow progress of the pick-and-roll this season:
The pick-and-roll worked in Sacramento because of the spacing and the quick flow of the offense. Douglas wasn’t holding the ball and was passing quickly, with players finding the right spots.

But the Knicks haven’t found the consistency yet. Even though the pick-and-roll isn’t a set play, players have to be organized and in their right spots to work. The “picker” and the “roller” have to be in sync and, with Chandler as a new piece, he’s still getting his timing down, whether it’s with Douglas or Anthony. As far as Amar’e getting more involved in the pick-and-roll, it will come once the team gets on the same page and what the defense gives them.

Landry Fields is a completely different shooter than when the Knicks drafted him. The coaching staff has completely changed his shot and release and it’s still a work in progress. He used to catch-and-shoot at Stanford and he was always inside and facing the basket. With his moves off the dribble and him putting the ball on the floor, he’s still thinking a lot, but the coaches see it all syncing up now where he can just play and take his shot when it’s open.

• Most of the Knicks will be rooting for the Giants Sunday, but not Toney Douglas. “They’re all supporting the Giants … I’ll be in red-and-black cheering the Falcons!” Douglas has a brother on the Falcons — wide receiver Harry Douglas — and he talked to his brother right after the matchup was official. Toney said Harry is excited for the game and glad it’s in New York so Toney can go attend it.

• Carmelo is a Ravens fan and was talking about them to the Baltimore/Washington media, but he did say that he supports the Giants.  Asked if the Giants and Ravens faced off in the Super Bowl: “Great, but I’ll have to root for my Ravens then!”

Posted in New York Knicks | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Tina’s Knicks Knotebook Week 1 (Jan. 7)

Prep Work for NFL on FOX; Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams

I’m back on the Gridiron.  After 2 years covering the Red Sox and MLB for NESN, and 3 years covering the Knicks and NBA for MSG, I’m returning to my first love; Football.  Due to the current uncertainty of a particular professional basketball league, while I continue working various shows, the Red Bulls, MLS and college basketball games on MSG Network, my time has freed up significantly (do the math).

With that, so many incredible opportunities have presented themselves to me in the sports broadcasting industry, allowing me to do different types of work, when I’m normally in Oklahoma City, Memphis, Philadelphia, LA, Denver, or of course, running around the baselines and behind the benches at Madison Square Garden.  With that, this weekend for the first time since the fall of 2003, I’m doing sideline reporting for the NFL.

Back in ’02 and ’03 I was working for Sports USA Radio, traveled throughout the NFL, and covered incredible games at Lambeau Field, Arrow Head Stadium, Fed Ex Field, The Linc, etc.  But this Sunday, November 27th, I’ll be doing my first Network television NFL game on FOX, when the Arizona Cardinals travel to play the St. Louis Rams at Edward Jones Dome.

One of my very first paying jobs, albeit, an infrequent, freelance job, was as a runner for FOX Sports.  In May of 1996, I did my first games for FOX, when they had the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  I hiked down to Philadelphia on my own dime to work the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals between the Florida Panthers and Philadelphia Flyers.  I basically made photo copies, made sure the talent had water and snacks, delivered updated game notes, lineups, and more.

Through all the YEARS of working in the trucks for FOX Sports, at NFL games from the Meadowlands to the Super Bowl in Miami, MLB games from Camden Yards to the old Shea Stadium and the Subway Series World Series, I always told the broadcast associates, producers, associate directors, directors and the men in the highest of managerial positions at FOX Sports … I wanted to work for them as a sideline reporter.

Good things happen to those who wait. (I’ve come a long way, Brian Baldinger, Jacob Ullman, Fran Morrison, Pete Macheska, Wayne Fidelman, Dave Schwalbe … right?)

And I love this story line … I’ll be working with veteran play-by-play announcer Sam Rosen.  MSG’s own legendary voice, who has been calling Rangers Hockey games since the early 80’s. Along side Sam, will be NFL Analyst, Chad Pennington.  Marshall Legend and former New York Jets quarterback.  I remember in 2005, getting a one-on-one with Chad IN St. Louis, after the Jets clinched a play-off spot. At the time I was working for CBS 2 in NYC.  My producers were psyched when I called in I got the one-on-one.  Talk about a heavy New York presence on this broadcast!  It will feel like home.

Over the next couple of days, I’m going to give readers a behind the scences look at the prep work for an NFL game.

Since Sunday, every morning my doorbell rings with a package from FOX.  DVDs of the Cardinals and Rams week 10 games came on Monday.  On Tuesday, it was DVDs of the FOX pre-game show, cut ups from all the CBS NFL games, cut ups from all the Week 12 FOX games, and the Week 10 and Week 12 Cardinals and Rams games.

Each day I have been reading the paper and internet clippings for each team.  Watching press conferences on and browsing through the teams’ websites.  Last night, I killed several trees printing up the games notes from each team, and spent several hours, highlighting information that would be appealing to a report from the field, something for me to look for during game action, during player/coach/team interaction.  I also began writing questions up for the numerous conference calls scheduled for the week with coaches and players, as well as collecting bullet points and questions that I will address right on the field pre-game.

In my next write up … I’ll take you through the interesting, and to me, inspiring conference calls!  In the end, it’s a conversation between announcers, the producer and a coach about what to look for, what to focus on, what to report during their next game that we will broadcast.  But I walked away from our call with Rams Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo, ready to run routes.  Despite a team being 2-8, with players dropping like flies onto the injured reserve … the Rams are now in double digits … to be an NFL Head Coach, you have something special.  That’s what gets you there.  Spagnuolo conveyed that winning desire, in answering just a couple of our questions.

Posted in NFL | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Special Interview on Bloomberg Sports

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw invited me to the Bloomberg Building the week of May 16th, to join him on his Bloomberg TV set to talk about a variety of topics. Rob asked me about my career path from a being a young sports fan and athlete, to becoming the reporter for the New York Knicks on MSG Network. Watch here to learn more about my experience covering the Knicks, from their 23 win days to showcasing superstars Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmello Anthony. Plus, we both bash LeBron a tad…                                                                                                                                            A View from the Diamond on Bloomberg Sports with MSG\’s Tina Cervasio

Posted in New York Knicks | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Speech to UNICO – Brian Piccolo Award Winners

On Wednesday, May 04, 2011 I was the guest speaker at the UNICO – Northern Bergen County / District IX Brian Piccolo Awards Dinner at The Estate at Florentine Gardens in River Vale, New Jersey.  The honorees were from High Schools in Cresskill, Greater Ramsey, Paramus, Oradell, Westwood and Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. 

UNICO chapters around the country are proud to be associated with the name of Brian Piccolo.  Each year the Award is presented at the chapter and district level to a person demonstrating those athletic attributes associated with Piccolo.  The recipient must also be of Italian heritage. 

Being of 100% Italian decent, a high school athlete, and a television journalists covering sports today, predominantly the NBA, I wanted to gear my talk, both to why I, and others should be inspired by Brian Piccolo, but to also see those attributes in some athletes today.  While the loud mouths and law breakers are mostly in the headlines, it’s the stories that fly under the radar that should be glorified.

 Here’s the gist of my speech.  Of course, I went off on tangents, especially about being proud of your Italian heritage, and to not let the stereotypes hinder your pride.  I also left out elements I wrote here … and clearly by the end of the speech, I just went on bullet points. But in the end … it was the resumes of this year’s award winners that really inspired me by the end of the night!! Congratulations! And check out a couple of pics from the dinner on my Facebook Page.


Who has seen the movie “Brian’s Song”?

Who cried?

I haven’t seen it in a while …. And even if you saw it last night … it’s a story worth repeating … worth relating to people and events today … it’s an important life lesson … and while Brian Piccolo is not with us … his story lives on … to teach us.

I’ve learned … and observed … people interpret things different.

Brian Piccolo’s life story may teach one person about courage … another about fulfilling dreams … someone else may walk away, being reminded “each day can’t be taken for granted” … maybe some might be inspired how Piccolo’s life was an example of someone who saw no racial boundaries. 

Brian Piccolo didn’t live long enough to fulfill his dream of becoming a great NFL running back … because of his death, from cancer at just 26 years old.  But that does not mean he did not succeed, he succeed at courage and inspiring others.

What I want to talk about tonight … is that 100-million dollar salaries or winning a Championship … isn’t all about success! There are great victories in life beyond the fame and fortune. 

While playing for the Chicago Bears … Brian Piccolo was always in his best friend’s shadow.  No great fame, no great recognition … all of that was going to his teammate Gale Sayers.  Meanwhile, Piccolo was a great, all-American back at Wake Forest … in the 60’s … but because of his small stature, and his 40 time … he wasn’t drafted. 

The Bears signed him as a free agent and Piccolo spent a season on the practice squad.  But he eventually made the team, and was doing what he loved.  Playing football. 

I never scored a touchdown, never made a jump shot … outside of my sophomore gym class … but ever since I was 11 years old, I wanted to be on the sidelines of football and basketball games.  Be like Barbara Walters … just, instead of covering politics or wars … I wanted to cover sports. 

Like Brian Piccolo, I had a dream, a goal.  I knew what I loved to do … I did what I had to do in college and the years after … take small jobs , work for nothing, pay my dues, study games, players names, history of sports …. Like Piccolo had to rack up yards in college, be a star on his own college team …. Do what any individual has to do to achieve a goal??  Right …. Whether you want to become a teacher, doctor, lawyer, architect, there are steps to take to achieve a certain level. 

Piccolo was quoted several times about his recipe for success: talent, determination and luck … he said … “You have to be in the right place at the right time,” he said.”In my case, I happened to be a running back and they happened to draft Gale Sayers the same year. That’s not exactly the best way to bust into the league. That’s not exactly what you’d call being in the right place at the right time.”

Has anyone heard of Erin Andrews? Yeah. Brian. I get you. “Not exactly what you’d call being in the right place at the right time.”

It didn’t stop Brian.  Nor should it stop me, you, your friends, or anyone who sets a goal, sets out to do what they love. Just because a Hall of Famer might be doing what you love, what you want to do, why should that prevent you from reaching your goals, dreams.  LOOK …. sometimes a door won’t open … sometimes you are given the answer NO … well guess what … other doors will open; you must find a way to get to the answer YES.  Brian Piccolo got the biggest NO one could face … a diagnosis of cancer.  Yet still … he pressed on … becoming a hero to the most unlikely person … that Gayle Sayers guy. 

Piccolo hoped to become the team’s starting fullback, in the same backfield with Sayers, in 1966. Owner George Halas had other ideas, and Piccolo spent the season playing on special teams, But Piccolo’s playing time increased the next season as he became a backup to Sayers, his new roommate. The two became the first white and black men to room together in the NFL at a time the civil-rights movement was at its height.

Sayers always spoke highly of his roommate “Pic never badmouthed anybody,” Sayers said. “They say that people who like themselves like other people, and Brian was never short on self confidence. He truly liked people.” EVERYONE LOVED PICCOLO BACK

In 1968, Sayers suffered a ruptured cartilage and two torn ligaments in his right knee, ending his season. Piccolo became the starter. He even played hurt at times and In six games as a starter, Piccolo gained 450 yards.

Sayers the next season, and Piccolo was again relegated to being his backup. … and late in the season chest pains and a cough took him out of a game.

An  X-ray showed A tumor in his lungs, and Piccolo underwent surgery to remove the malignant tumor on November 28, at which time his doctor determined the cancer had spread.

Two weeks later, the Bears organized a press conference at his home and Piccolo announced his intent to continue playing football…. Despite chemotherapy, and more surgery to remove his entire left lung ….

Meanwhile …. Sayers, who had recovered from his injuries … won the NFL rushing title, was honored with the George Halas Award as the league’s most courageous player for the 1969 season. At a ceremony in New York, Sayers gave an emotional speech saying there was somebody more deserving of the award.

Brian Piccolo. 

I not going to read the speech. I’ll probably cry …. My husband is fighting cancer right now … and he’s doing great.  We’re expecting 100% recovery after surgery in June. 

But when you look at all the opponents Gayle Sayers had to run over …. None of them where as tough as the opponent Brian was facing.  Sayers said that Piccolo was braver and had more courage than anyone on a football field … and NO … that’s not what Brian wanted.  He’d much rather be running over defensive lineman than cancer … but Brian had become Sayers role model, a hero, a symbol of courage … a symbol of a man who loved him no matter his skin color.  Let us learn from Gayle Sayers …. Not how to be one of the greatest running backs in the NFL ever …. But how to see who the real heroes are, the real role models. 

Shortly there after … Brian Piccolo did pass away. But he …. To this day … is immortalized by the Bears, by these Brian Piccolo Awards dinners … because of his courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication. By just being himself.  Not a Hall of Fame back … but by being a great friend, and working hard at what he loved … playing football. A door closed on Brian Piccolo …. LIFE, but because of the way he lived, a door to becoming a true role model, a true hero opened. 

Less than 2 percent of high school athletes go on to become professional athletes. 

Crazy ….

But …

I’m going to use one as an example right now.

You can look to Amar’e Stoudemire as the 110-milliondollar man … took the New York Knicks on his back, brought them back to the playoffs, he’s in Vogue magazine, wearing stylish clothes, on David Letterman … he’s got New York City in the palm of his hand.  It’s impressive.  What I hope to point out tonight … like in the Brian Piccolo story … that there is more than the money and the NBA fame.  Those shiny things are nice … but they are not what impresses me about Amar’e.  And sometimes, those little things are what don’t get noticed.  Unfortunately … Brian Piccolo’s great attributes … they were revealed when he had to face cancer. 

Amar’e may have had a stiff back during the playoffs. But he’s fine. What I want to tell you is … about A good lesson.  Similar to the way Piccolo loved his roommate … Sayers … despite how the public viewed race relationships at the time …. Well …. I know a story about Amar’e …. The way he continued to love his mother … through a very trying time that’s worth recognizing on this night.  LOYALTY, DEDICATION … those words, words used by Piccolo as his reciepe to success … those words comes to mind.

  • Amar’e’s dad died at 12 …. Brothers and sisters … mom fell into tough tough times ….
  • Mom had to face jail time … Amar’e sent to 7 different high schools, eventually drafted … mom came to her own, straightened her life out … Amar’e was there for her … was LOYAL to her ….
  • Now …. Ministering and counseling people on the streets of Phoenix, helping them to get to rehab like her … get help like she did … …. Where her calling is

First pre-game at MSG … met her …. Proud …. “I’m Carrie Stoudemire”

Amar’e posts pictures on twitter of them when she visits …. He doesn’t say much about it … but his actions speak louder than words. Stayed LOYAL to her. 

Amar’e was the only superstar who was brave enough to take on NY.  He did.  Took team, city, and franchise on his big wide shoulders.  Then … Carmelo came along.  Wasn’t “Just” Amar’e anymore … But STAT never said a negative word, accepted Melo …. All his teammates talk about “never seeing a guy work harder …. He already got the 100 million dollars, still the first one in the gym and last one out.” (Shawne Williams after Knicks eliminated)

Loyalty to his mother, dedication to the sport he loves, humility around his teammates, leadership through action.

I want you to see that about Amar’e …. Not the 100 million dollars …

Many doors should have been closed for Amar’e … no parents, no true high school …. No college background …. He found open doors.  Could have fallen into a bad crowd, rebelled, no …. Found a way to a YES in life … used basketball …. BUT … was also there when his mother got help.  LOYAL

What will you DO, when you encounter a NO??????

I can stand here for 20 hours if I went through all the NO’s I’ve run into …..

But like Brian Piccolo and Amar’e Stoudemire … I knew what I loved. I loved talking sports …. Telling stories about sports … going to games. 

What ever you love, what ever your goals are … the path you take… may NOT be the path you envision … but that doesn’t mean you will not reach your goals.  I NEVER thought I would own a Red Sox World Series Ring, or be the New York Knicks sideline reporter day in and day out.

I interviewed for the Yankees field reporter job in 2005 … didn’t get job … went to the Red Sox … they said YES, when the Yankees said NO (ironically, Yankees Network is “YES” … Red Sox is “NESN”) BUT …  … I won / earned a World Series ring (WITH MY NAME ON IT)  in JUST two seasons.  Got out … (Boston was not my goal, working was the necessity, the stepping stone …)

I Had a goal … wanted to work in New York … had to leave NY to go to Boston, to then come back to NY … where am I now????  I call the World’s Most Famous Arena … my office.  But … it doesn’t stop with goals … keep striving, aim high … don’t stop ….

Interviewed a celebrity recently  … “my life is just beginning at 50”

But remember it’s the little things that will bring you the happiness in the success … like Brian Piccolo …. Like Amar’e Stoudemire …. Courage, dedication, loyalty, teamwork …

Heard quote … no idea … (Tom Thibodeau …Sean Payton … not sure … NBA or NFL coach on Sports Center)

“It’s not easy being good.”  (some people are born with talent, beauty, right place right time …. )

“But it’s easy to work hard” …. Working hard is a choice … courage, dedication, loyalty, teamwork … THOSE are choices.  Whether you are 17 or 67 …. Life can be filled with success and open doors if you make some of those simple choices!!!

Posted in Charity or Awards Event | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Speech to UNICO – Brian Piccolo Award Winners

My Sideline Notebook from Games 1 & 2 between Knicks & Celtics

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
It’s amazing how much of a sideline reporters work the viewers DON’T see.  Below are most of the reports I had prepared through attending practices, shootaround, and in the pre-game locker rooms.  I got two on the air.  Why only two? Not because my reports weren’t “good”, in fact, my producer reads through all of them, and if he doesn’t like one, I just press delete.  But because through the course of a game, I am competing against promos, commercials, and the flow of the game. When Amar’e Stoudemire left the game early in the 1st quarter to get his back worked on, my priority became reporting on Amar’e’s condition. I also had an interview set up with the already injured Chauncey Billups for the second time-out in the second quarter. As Amar’e’s condition turned dire, I spent the entire third quarter standing by the door to the Knicks locker room, with Amar’e inside.  I was waiting for the player to appear, run to the court, or get an update from a trainer or public relations employee.  I didn’t see one live play of the third quarter.  Just a part of the job.  The job I love.  What is NOT below are the interviews I did with Carmelo Anthony before the tip, before halftime, and with asst. coach Phil Weber after the half. I also interviewed the Celtics Jermaine O’Neal after the game for our Post Game show on MSG.  Here’s all the work I did, that didn’t make it to the sidelines ….

This week Amar’e Stoudemire from the day he signed with the Knicks he saw it as a great opportunity to team-up with Mike D’Antoni again, and they made an effort together to keep communication lines going, Amar’e says “we’ve been on same page from start”
Amar’e prides himself in playing like a warrior. // Earlier this season he read “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu (zoo) … a Chinese military strategist. The book teaches warriors to “attack your enemy where he is unprepared, appear where he does not expect you.” Amar’e told me it prepares him for battle, so he took notes, wrote down quotes and has them with him, now in the post season to continue inspiring and motivating his warrior side.
((Game 1)) At morning shootaround, Amar’e was asked what he thought about Glen Davis’ comments that Amar’e is “not that hard to guard” … Amar’e said … “Glen Davis and I are on two different platforms right now. He’s a solid player, does a great job for his ballclub, but we’re on two different platforms.”
Carmelo Anthony recognizes the Celtics are battle tested as a team, yesterday at practice Melo said, “They do have more experience than us … that’s a fact, yes we’re a young team, but we can still compete, ” Melo says if the Knicks can compete to the point of stringing together 2 wins in a row, THAT will make a difference in this series for New York.
Landry Fields says after the trade he wasn’t playing like himself. He was thinking too much, instead of just playing. Landry admits he’s a cerebral guy, and while that’s his strength, it can also be his weakness. He said in these playoff games he needs to just trust what he can do, and did the first half of the season, and just play.
Even before Billups was out … Amar’e has been saying … the Knicks starts can’t win this series on their own … the rest of the team has to step up. Landry Fields says what’s important for everyone that’s “not” a star … is that those players have to be like a “glue guy” … bring energy, be aggressive, play good defense.
When Toney Douglas was a rookie he came into the league with great admiration for Rajon Rondo. Saying he looked up to Rondo, because he overcame the critics that weren’t high on him when he came out of college. Toney said Rondo wound up in the right situation and proved people wrong by doing the right things … rebounding, he knew how to find people, play good defense by using his quick hands … and … he took his team to the playoffs.
Ronny Turiaf told me he was not surprised at all with Jermaine O’Neal’s performance Sunday. Ronny says it doesn’t matter if JERMAINE lost time due to injuries or had surgeries, HE WAS AN ALL-STAR FOR A REASON, and has had a great NBA career because he was born with a talent. Ronny says that talent doesn’t go away, so he respects O’Neal and expects him to still be a game-changer.

CHAUNCEY ((Game 1))
At this morning’s shootaround, Chauncey Billups said from the DAY arrived in New York after the trade, there was a buzz in the city and he sensed a fan base that was “starving for a winner”, for the Knicks to be competitive and be relevant. // Billups says while the postseason is what he expects each year, he understand how IMPORTANT it is for Knicks fans to have their team back in the playoffs.
From the minute the regular season ends, Chuancey Billups changes. He says “You know the stakes are higher.” // On his own … He does a lot more film work, mental preparation … he says to “try to prepare for different situations that come up in games, where we can be effective, how to run plays, and places on court he needs to get to.”That’s the edge you need in the playoffs.
Chauncey says the toughest road arenas to play in are Utah … where he played a number of post season games when he was with Denver… Philly was always tough for him when he was with Detroit … and yes, Boston … now a loud, volatile atmosphere for him as a Knick.

Before the game tonight, Ray Allen said the Celtics really feel “ We gotta away with one on our own floor , but we don’t want to say that anymore, now we need to take care of business.” //
He doesn’t see himself tonight as the “guy who hit the game winner” but a player who has to do every thing in his power to help his team win.
Doc Rivers says the plan… defending Amar’e is they’d “like” their normal defense to “work”. But if they’r not making stops & he’s scoring, they, primarily Garnett … have to essentially “over deny” him the ball. Doc says Amar’e’s going to catch it … they have to prevent that.
((Game 1)) Paul Pierce said we can’t get caught up in their game and give up 108 – 110 points … if we do, there’s no way we can win.
At the beginning of the season Rajon Rondo told me he put on about 20 pounds of muscle since his first season. He says the time he’s spent in the gym has paid dividends when he drives to the basket, gives him explosion in his jumper, and helps him hold his own when he’s defended by bigger players.
The Celtics have practiced 3-days in a row this week … the FIRST time since they broke camp, that they’ve held practice three straight days. All season Doc Rivers has tried to preserve the health and energy of his vets … but Friday, Doc ran them hard for a good 2 ½ hours.

Posted in New York Knicks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on My Sideline Notebook from Games 1 & 2 between Knicks & Celtics