It's the Mecca of Basketball. Almost every NBA player says that Madison Square Garden is one of their favorite places to play, and I'm quite sure they're not referring to the architecture. The thing that makes MSG special is the combination of wild history, and above all, New York City basketball fans.
That's why all this talk about fans yelling "f**k you to Trae Young being inappropriate is insane to me. The NBA has become a league of load management, with a regular-season most players interpret as an "82 game practice." We desperately need passion and energy, and we shouldn't criticize it, but encourage it. Still, after the game, many found "f**k you" chants inappropriate (I'd be willing to bet most of them never played a competitive game of basketball), and MSG came back with something more politically correct; definitely factually undeniable. "Trae is balding."
Zach Lowe: "The fans were chanting Trae Young is balding. Is that right?"
Malika Andrews: "Oh gosh, Zach. They handed out pamphlets at the door to fans saying tonight's chant is 'Trae Young is balding.'"
Not only was the chant coordinated via pamphlet, but it also had a very nice explainer at the bottom. Just to make sure everything was according to 2021, the pamphlet established that balding was actually taking place and argued for the efficacy of such a chant.
This was in part a response to Mike Breen scolding the fans in MSG for the "f**k you" chants on the broadcast of Game 1. Recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, Green had to acknowledge the creative response the Garden had prepared for Game 2.
“Mike Breen on the telecast actually tsked tsked the fans for the FU Trae Young chants and said we're better than that, let's get more creative. And when they were chanting Trae Young is balding, Mike Breen's tongue-in-cheek comment was 'That's better.'”
Zach Lowe, The Lowe Post
Let me be clear - every fan that got banned yesterday deserved it. Using racial slurs or innuendo, spitting on players, or throwing stuff at them is unacceptable. That has no place not just in sports venues but in society in general. But when Marc Spears says Nuggets fans are "pathetic" for booing Carmelo when he has the ball, my blood pressure goes up a bit. The moralization of "he won games for the Nuggets, and he has the right to choose where he wants to play" is a red herring. That's not why the Nuggets fans booed him.
Kyrie said he hopes there won't be "subtle racism" in his return to Boston. Marcus Smart wrote a story in Players' Tribune about this, sharing his experiences with racism in Boston as a Celtic player. Yesterday wasn't the first time a fan in Utah was banned for racism. There are cities and places players know they have to get ready for it, and we need to get that out of the game.
But a juicy "f**k you" is an integral part of basketball. I'll put it like this. If you'd use it while playing pick-up against someone you don't know, it should be fair game to shout it from the bleachers.