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In Big Apple, They Read It and Sleep

June 08, 2002|SHAUN POWELL | Newsday

As the NBA Finals begin to shift to New Jersey, the biggest fear Friday night was that the biggest basketball series of the year wouldn't even rate as the second-biggest sporting event in the New York area next week. All the suspicions about the superiority of the Lakers, along with the inexperience of the Nets, made an early appearance in the series. The groundwork for a swift and boring conclusion was laid.

The possibility of New York tuning out basketball became real.

After all, given the option of going to bed early or watching Game 1, New York collectively fluffed its pillow on Wednesday. This wasn't the kind of reaction David Stern and NBC wanted to see. Several markets grabbed better TV ratings than New York. Even New Orleans was bigger on the Finals.

With War Emblem snorting in the starting gate at Belmont, the Yankees and Mets warming up in the bullpen and Tiger Woods teeing off at Bethpage [in Farmingdale, N.Y], Lakers-Nets might be relegated to hockey status in the nation's largest market.

Quite simply, there will be no buzz about basketball unless the Nets create one.

The Nets entered Game 2 attempting to destroy one possibility. There hasn't been a sweep in the Finals since 1995, when Shaquille O'Neal and the Orlando Magic were routed by Houston.

Now, winning the series is almost out of the question for the Nets.

Prolonging the series is the issue. And if they can't make that happen, then they'll disappear quickly, just like the audience.

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