November 5, 2006 -- PERHAPS the most remarka ble thing about MSG Net work's ambitious and ex pensive 10-episode series, "The 50 Greatest Moments At Madison Square Garden," is that none of them has much, if anything, to do with Cablevision, the Garden's owner, the last dozen years.
In fact, those executives most responsible for the Garden's many great moments in the dozen years that preceded Cablevision's purchase of the Garden were either fired or forced to resign, once Cablevision blew in. And those folks, in the series, are mostly ignored.
Fact is, Cablevision bought the Garden right after the Rangers won the Stanley Cup and the Knicks took it to Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Since then it has been one step backwards, followed by two steps backwards.
And so, in no particular order, we feel obligated to list what we consider "The Greatest Garden Achievements in the Cablevision Era," none of which, oddly enough, made the cut in the 10-episode series.
1. On "Patrick Ewing Night," Ewing, who was paid $20 million per season by the Knicks, is gifted a new, fully loaded Hummer.
2. Following the Knicks' fourth straight losing season, Marv Albert, the voice of the Garden for more than 30 years and enshrined in the "Garden Walk of Fame," is fired for being too negative about the Knicks. No longer subjected to Albert's negativity, the Knicks then went 29-53.
3. Cablevision eliminates "MSG II," a channel on which all cable homes received local team NBA, MLB and NHL telecasts when scheduling conflicts arose. Cablevision places those telecasts on the now-defunct, Cablevision-owned Metro channel, shutting millions out of games for which they had paid.
4. Mike Saunders, beloved and respected Knicks' trainer for 27 years, is named NBA Trainer of the Year for a second time - as he's quietly reassigned, then pushed out of the Garden altogether.
5. Often-injured Knick Larry Johnson is forced to retire with $30 million left on his contract. Cablevision tells stockholders that Johnson's contract can be blamed for revenue shortfalls. Often-injured Knick Allan Houston re-ups, this time a $100 million contract. Injuries force him to retire.
6. Rangers trade a No. 1 draft pick for often-injured $10-million-per-year man Pavel Bure. In his only full season as a Ranger, Bure plays just 39 games before injuries force him to retire.
7. The Garden removes drinking fountains from the arena's hallways, replacing them with water vending machines.
8. Knicks VP Anucha Browne Sanders sues the Garden and Knicks president Isiah Thomas, claiming she was fired after complaining about on-the-job sexual harassment. The Garden insists her claims are totally without merit. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concludes that her claims have merit.
9. After Larry Brown is fired, only one TV reporter is granted an interview with Thomas and James Dolan about their decision - MSG Network's Al Trautwig.
10. After MSG Network loses Yankees and Nets rights to the new YES Network, Cablevision prevents Yankees and Nets telecasts from appearing in Cablevision's three million area cable homes for an entire season.
11. Knicks coach Don Chaney, after a third contract extension, is fired just before a game, then escorted from the Garden by security (see: Lenny Wilkens, Larry Brown, Scott Layden, Jeff Van Gundy, Bryan Trottier, Ron Lowe).
12. Despite the loss of an NHL season to a lockout and the loss of Yanks and Mets telecasts - "prohibitively expensive programming," according to Cablevision - subscriber costs for MSG Network are not reduced, they rise.
13. MSG Network, once widely - and for good reason - regarded as the nation's finest regional cable sports network, has been gutted of inventory and integrity. It now transparently serves as a Cablevision/Garden propaganda mill. Honest reporting and commentary have been replaced with cheerleading.
14. The Garden institutes a per-ticket "facility fee" at its box office. Thus, in addition to the face value of the ticket, another charge (now $4.50 per ticket) is tacked on should one wish to both purchase a ticket, then actually use it.
15. In fear of losing Garden events to competition, Cablevision launches an extensive ad campaign against a proposed West Side Stadium for the Jets. The campaign claims that such a stadium would be a financial burden on little people, including taxpayers. The Garden is exempt from paying real estate taxes.
16. Fran Healy.
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