Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Nets Net Zero In New York Times Sports Section

No Kidding, Jason Kidd: Fair To Middling Coverage Of Team Is Now Just Piddling
Last fall, this space gave The New York Times some justified jolts for basically ignoring hockey. Jason Diamos was assigned to not only cover the surprisingly resurgent Rangers, but also serve as all things NHL.
The Islanders and Devils are usually relegated to AP wire stories, which the Times offers with no sense of embarrassment, even though four or five other area papers have beat writers at those games.
At the time, I wondered if such parsimony in the sports section would extend to the New Jersey Nets, who, though they toil just eight miles away from Manhattan, would get short shrift because they're geographically undesirable.
No matter that they're in first place in the NBA's Atlantic Division and are a far more interesting team to watch than the beyond-pathetic Knicks.
Nonetheless, the Nets' last two road games, in Oklahoma City and Houston, were noted only by brief AP dispatches. Nominal beat writer John Eligon is absent -- perhaps a few comp days after Torino duty -- and the paper couldn't be bothered to reassign someone else or cobble up a stringer.
How sad and uninspired, to keep Knicks man Howard Beck detailing the dreary goings-on at MSG for another Knicks debacle only to detail the tedious soap opera between Larry Brown and Stephon Marbury when he could be covering a real game.
This is a sports section that often shows it knows better, yet often has this maddening case of myopia when it comes to local teams.
The Times pulled out the stops for its Torino Olympics coverage and became a must-read for those 16 days.
The World Baseball Classic is getting its due, while the spring-training scribes, as good as any other paper's -- are doing their usual yeoman work.
So what's up with the off-Broadway, playoff-bound local teams? Hard to believe that the coffers have run bare in the travel budget. This is the Times after all. Coverage first, worry about how much it costs later. But maybe such niceties don't apply to the sports section.
If not, why not?

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