Sunday, March 21, 2010

The New York Times pays attention to... the Nets' MC!

Would you believe that, on the cover of the Sports section yesterday, the New York Times ran a feature, headlined Leading the Nets’ Cheers, for Everything but Victories, about the travails of Marco G., the Nets' MC?
Marco G. is the Nets’ master of ceremonies — part hype man, part pitch man and the only consistent energy source in a Nets jersey. He may have the toughest job in the building.
Who really cares? The article deconstructs the hype, while contributing to it:
The evening can become a battle of wills, pitting Marco G.’s indefatigable persona against the crowd’s inertia. Sometimes he lifts them and sometimes not. (The free T-shirts help.) But his fervor never fails. He beckons, beseeches and bellows. He goes into the stands. He shakes hands and gives high-fives. If the adults won’t stand, he calls on the kids.

“I don’t have any problem making myself look silly,” Marco G. said. “Hopefully, my energy and excitement makes them forget about what just happened and root for the Nets some more, despite what’s going on.”

Most N.B.A. games are accompanied by an overdose of hype and volume. Teams use fireworks, theater lighting, blaring music, contrived video clips, mascots, dance teams, stunt teams and the allure of the free T-shirt.

The worse the team, the bigger the gap between the hype and the product. Despite their record, the Nets still turn out the lights and, on some nights, shoot explosives from the basket stanchions for player introductions.

When Marco G. announces the starting small forward, he growls the name “Trenton Hassell” as if he were introducing Michael Jordan.

“I think that it’s our responsibility to the fan,” Pope said. “If you have purchased a ticket to this game, it’s our responsibility to entertain you and to make you have a good time.”

And, also, to sell to you. Nearly every part of the game-night production has a sponsor, including player introductions. (“Vonage proudly presents the starting lineup for your New Jersey Nets!”)

To attend a Nets game is to spend two hours straddling parallel worlds. One is entertaining, electric and boisterous. The other is a Nets game.

It's another example of the Times's dubious choices, promoting the Nets while downplaying and avoiding coverage about the naming rights deal and the Atlantic Yards project.

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