By Chris Sheridan
Once upon a time, during an NBA playoff game at Madison Square Garden, there was one courtside seat assigned to The New York Times, and columnist Harvey Araton and beat writer Mike Wise both felt entitled to it.
So they began arguing, and the argument started to get pretty heated.
At that point, NBA media relations staffer Mike Broeker (now the Acting Director of Athletics at Marquette) stepped in and tried to resolve the conflict. Broeker’s boss quickly pulled him aside and got in his face: “If you ever, ever try to break up a media fight again, I’ll fire your ass!”
The best media fight I ever witnessed took place in 1995 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where I was covering the New York Yankees at spring training. There was a large crowd surrounding manager Buck Showalter in the dugout, and a cameraman put his hand on New York Post beat writer Joel Sherman’s shoulder and pushed down, hoping to clear himself a better shot. Sherman took offense and started wailing on the guy, much to Showalter’s amusement. (I wrote about it in passing in my AP story that day, and Sherman didn’t speak to me for the next six years) .
The practice of cameramen pushing reporters’ arms and shoulders has not ceased in the years since, and many a media fight has been prevented by writers (myself included) weighing the consequences of lashing out physically.
But when David Stern exited the Lowell Hotel on East 63rd Street Monday night to announce the cancellation of the first two weeks of the regular season, there was a serious real estate issue. There were about 50 media people there, all of them trying to crowd around Stern, and a pair of cameramen in the back of the pack started jostling for position and yelling at each other while Stern was speaking.
After the commissioner left, the cameramen were not finished with each other. They took their dispute 50 feet down the street and squared off, and the lamest media fight ever ensued. Here is the video, shot by Jake Langbecker of charged.fm: