As Knicks Struggle, New York Times Assigns Reporter To 'Better Basketball'

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It was a small item on page B9 of the New York edition of the New York Times: “Wanted: Better Basketball for a Weary Reporter.”

Scott Cacciola is the weary reporter. His beat is the New York Knicks, a team that, at the time of the sports department editors’ plea, had posted a dismal 5-32 record.

BL: Scott, could you please begin by describing what it’s been like to cover the Knicks this season?

Even though the team is lousy, it's still important to a lot of people in the city.

Scott Cacciola, New York Times

You know, it's hard. I mean, it's hard for the reporters, it's hard for the players. It gets monotonous after a while. They're just not that talented. They've had a lot of injuries. It's the same story day after day with the exception of some trades they've made. So it just gets tiring.

BL: On Wednesday, the Knicks set a new franchise record for losing streak. That mark previously had stood at 12, but the final straw for your editors was this week’s trade of guards J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. Am I right to assume that trade will not improve the team?

[sidebar title="At The Top..." width="630" align="right"]At the other end of the Eastern Conference standings, the Atlanta Hawks are in first place for the first time since 1997 and the team just went up for sale.[/sidebar]

SC: Not in the short run, Bill, that's for sure. I think it was a clear indication that Phil Jackson and the people who run the team are trying to build something in the years ahead. This season is kind of a lost cause. I think they all kind of recognize that.

J.R. Smith had another year left on his contract after this season, and they wanted to get rid of it, so they did. They didn't get anything in return other than three players that they waived and then a second round pick in 2019. Really it was just about getting rid of salaries to clear room for the summer.

BL: In Wednesday’s paper, the sports editors declared that you’ll be getting a break from covering the Knicks for the next month or so. They say they’ll send you to write about “quality” basketball instead. Are there any restrictions on what level of basketball you’ll be covering?

SC: Absolutely not, Bill. That's one of the great joys of this experiment. We've been soliciting suggestions from readers. A lot of readers have written in with great stuff. I mean, we've heard from people who have great stories about 5th grade teams, their local rec league teams, games in the Canary Islands.

Honestly this is going to be a lot of fun for me. I feel guilty, actually if I can disclose this, that I've sort of been sharing my Knicks' duties this season with another reporter by the name of Andrew Keh, who does a great job. And sort of in my absence, he's going to be continuing to cover the Knicks, so I do feel guilty and I kind of wish I could bring Andrew along with me.

BL: I would think, it being January in Knicks country, it'd be very nice to, say, relocate to Hawaii or the Canary Islands or some place like that.

SC: I've pitched New Zealand personally. I think there's a great tournament happening in a couple of weeks. We'll see if my editor goes for it though.

BL: And your former co-coverer of the Knicks, he will continue to cover the Knicks, that poor guy.

SC: Yeah, I mean I think when we ran that advertisement in the paper it was a little bit tongue-in-cheek. They are giving me a break to pursue other stories. But we're not stopping covering the team. Even though the team is lousy, it's still important to a lot of people in the city. Even when a team is struggling, it's still newsworthy, so we're not abandoning coverage of the Knicks. We'll still be there for the news, but I think it is a way of sort of trying to be lighthearted about it, I guess.

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This segment aired on January 10, 2015.


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