The Knicks tried something a little different for their game against the Warriors on Sunday afternoon. (They still lost, so some things remained comfortingly stable.) For the entirety of warm-ups and the first half, there was no in-arena entertainment, no music blaring during timeouts, no organ playing, no hype vids, nothing but the natural sound of the crowd and the squeak of sneakers on hardwood.
It’s a cool idea, I think, and the fact that these videos from the game seem so aberrational is a reminder of how ingrained the artificial hype has become in what we expect of the in-game experience.
If the relative silence was a welcome departure from the usual sensory overload of the fan experience, it was even more jarring for the people who were there to work. Players and coaches were only informed of the edict 15 minutes before tip-off, and they were pretty much unanimously critical of it. Steph Curry said the Warriors resorted to beatboxing in their pregame layup line, and players from both teams said the first half felt awkward without music.
But no one was as critical as Draymond Green, who called the experience “pathetic” and “ridiculous.”
“It changed the flow of the game. It changed everything. You get used to playing a certain way. It completely changed it. To me, I think it was completely disrespectful to everyone from Michael Levine to Rick Welts and all these people who’ve done these things to change the game from an entertainment perspective. It gives the game a great vibe. That’s complete disrespect. You advance things in the world to make it better. You don’t go back to what was bad. It’s like, computers can do anything for us—It’s like going back to paper. Why would you do that? So it was ridiculous.”
“Did you see that first half? It was just bad, sloppy, all over the place. There was no rhythm to the game. All this stuff makes a difference in a game, believe it or not. You get in a rhythm...You turn on music, it just helps you get into a certain area, takes you to a certain place. So, I don’t think they were doing it to, like, throw us off, but it definitely threw the entire game off. They need to trash that. That’s exactly what it was.”
Green may have been upset that the Knicks were actually up by 1 at the half, though Golden State came back for the 112-105 win. On the other hand, New York’s Courtney Lee said the absence of music and exhortations to the crowd to get loud took away the Knicks’ home-court advantage.
I understand why players didn’t like it. If you get used to doing things a certain way, it’s unpleasant to be forcefully yanked out of your groove. (I’d rather quit my job than have to make my subway commute without music.) But then we land on a question: Is the in-arena experience meant to cater to players, or to fans?