BULLS RUN: UNFAZED RED BULLS MUST MOVE ON

The Red Bulls suffered a humbling 5-2 loss to Orlando City SC last Friday night for their first defeat at Red Bull Arena since May 24. But is there reason for concern for the Eastern Conference leaders?

Orlando had a plan to combat the Red Bulls’ press and employed it ruthlessly throughout the match. By putting men behind the ball —  in other words, not committing players forward and allowing the Red Bulls to have the ball —  and springing lightning-quick counterattacks, Orlando zeroed in on a potential flaw it noticed during advanced scouting for the match.

“I watched the New York-Chicago game and I saw that [David] Accam’s been doing it to a lot of people this year – he’s just like a cheetah out there – and I realize they press a lot so if we could break that first line of pressure, then the counter was on,” Orlando City midfielder Brek Shea said after the match.

The Red Bulls gave credit to Orlando for its tactics, but they also put the blame on themselves for how they performed in the loss.

“I think that our front six [players] didn’t do a good enough job winning the ball up the field,” Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty said. “And I don’t think [Orlando was] too dangerous from their possession. Then again, when they won the ball from us and they counter-attacked us, they just scored.”

While the defeat to Orlando was a setback, it didn’t prove to be too costly. The Red Bulls still lead the East by a point and lead MLS with 1.66 points per game after this weekend’s results. They are still in prime position for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand over their closest competition. Nevertheless, the result may have provided a sufficient wake-up call for Jesse Marsch’s team.

“I promise you this: This team won’t be fazed by this,” the Red Bulls’ head coach said in his postgame press conference. “It’s a hard one to take, it’s a kick in the teeth, but we will find a way to regroup and we’ll be ready to go again [this] weekend.”

A LOOK AHEAD: RED BULLS VS. COLUMBUS CREW SATURDAY

Red Bulls Columbus Crew
14-9-6 (48 Points) Record 13-10-8 (47 Points)
L-1
Streak L-1
9-3-2 (Home) Home/Road Record 5-6-4 (Road)
1st Conference Position 4th
51 Goals 50
1.75 Goals Per Game 1.61
37 Goals Allowed 51
1.28 Goals Allowed Per Game 1.64
Bradley Wright-Phillips (14) Top Goal Scorer Kei Kamara (22)
Sacha Kljestan (11) Assists Ethan Finlay (11)

Saturday’s match against the Crew may prove to be decisive in the race of the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

A win over the Crew would extend the Red Bulls’ lead over Columbus to four points and give them some breathing room on one of their closest rivals.

See what Dax McCarty, Jesse Marsch and Matt Miazga had to say after Miazga's red card offense in the Red Bulls' 5-2 loss to Orlando City SC.

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The Knicks Fix: Melo on Summer ‘Sources’ And Mentoring Porzingis

Carmelo Anthony smiles widely when he talks about Kristaps Porzingis. If you’ve known Melo long enough, you know he has tossed praise around to different players, but rare is it with the enthusiasm he shows when the discussion turns to “KP.” Perhaps it’s because, in Porzingis, Melo sees a lot of himself. The appreciation grew quickly through a tumultuous summer that began with public criticism of the Knicks decision to take the 7-foot Latvian teenager with the fourth pick in the draft.

And there was also the subsequent source-based reports that Melo wasn’t happy with it.

“It seems like none of this stuff fazes him,” Melo told me. “And I like that. He has a little chip on his shoulder.”

At Knicks Media Day, Carmelo Anthony comments on benchmarks for the Knicks, Phil Jackson's involvement with the team, his approach to the upcoming season and more.

For instance, during a recent workout, Melo said he and others were teasing Porzingis about comments made by team president Phil Jackson in an ESPN.com series, “Phil Files,” written by Charley Rosen, in which Jackson makes a parallel between Porzingis and another rail-thin former lottery pick, Shawn Bradley.

Rather than get flustered or upset by that and other concerns Jackson had — which included a thought that Porzingis may be “too tall” for the NBA — Melo said he was impressed with how the rookie didn’t flinch.

“I laughed at it,” Porzingis told him.

Internally, much of what was reported about Melo was laughable. It started with him reportedly being upset about the Porzingis pick and wanting to be traded. It went on into free agency, where he was reportedly upset about not landing big name players, such as LaMarcus Aldridge, and wanting to be traded.

“It was funny at first,” Melo told me of the relentless headlines. “Then it became overwhelming. Every day, there was another trade rumor . . . I wanted to get traded.”

The smile then left his face for a moment and he wore an expression of frustration.

“Come on,” he said. “I don’t want to be traded.”

He took to social media over the summer to respond to fans regarding the rumors.

“It was like, enough is enough,” he explained.

Melo admitted now that it wasn’t his first mistake. The first mistake was allowing the rumors to spread like a brush fire in a summer where NBA writers are hungry for topics.

“It was my fault,” he said. “I let it go and go and go without saying nothing.”

So who are these sources, anyway? Why would he allow others to speak for him?

“The offseason is my season, that’s my offseason,” he said. “People and media feel they can’t contact me in the offseason, so they feel they’ve got to make all these speculations. They have to report on all these sources.”

While media and fans volleyed the story all summer, Melo focused only on clearing the air with the front office. He spoke directly with Phil Jackson, Steve Mills and Derek Fisher. He then reached out to Porzingis and the two became fast friends. He invited the rookie to join him in Puerto Rico in August when Melo does his annual charity weekend there. Several other Knicks teammates made the trip, as well.

Melo and Porzingis have also spent a lot of court time at Terminal 23, an exclusive basketball gym run by Jordan Brand in midtown Manhattan. This is significant because, throughout his career, Melo wasn’t known to spend a great deal of time with teammates (aside from travel buddies JR Smith and Iman Shumpert), especially in the offseason. But this summer, KP has been his running mate.

“I guess he likes to play with me,” Porzingis said. “He calls me all of the time and says, ‘Let’s go, me and you, me and you.'”

Kristaps Porzingis discusses his outlook for his first NBA camp, what it has been like to train alongside Carmelo Anthony, the opportunity to play in New York, and more.

So, what’s Melo like?

“He’s a great passer,” Porzingis said.

Come again?

“Yeah,” he replied. “Just for me playing with him . . . We play 5-on-5 and he always finds me. He just finds me. You know, he draws so much attention and he always finds me when I’m open.”

Melo told reporters at Knicks Media Day that he looked forward to playing a “big brother” role to Porzingis. And while the rookie could certainly learn a lot from an all-star, it seems Melo might benefit just as much from this relationship. Heading into his sixth full season with the Knicks, nothing should faze him, either.

“There’s no better place to be at and win than in New York,” he said. He then added with a chuckle, “And there’s no worse place to be at when you lose than New York. I’ve come to grips with that and I accept that. I know how to deal with that.

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The Knicks Fix: Orientation Over, Phil and His ‘Hand-Picked’ Team Ready for New Season

In the countless hours of discussions during this offseason of review and rethinking, Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher had finally reached a point in their relationship where respect finally went beyond the stage of being polite. One would think after all of the years they spent together as coach and player, there would no longer be a boundary between them. But over the first season together in New York, there was an obvious tip-toeing both did around each other.

What they learned in meetings with each other and general manager Steve Mills is that the “orientation process,” as Jackson called it, had to come to and end. The more they worked together in the offseason on building almost an entirely new roster, the more they realized that they, Fisher said, “found a better rhythm” and as a result, wanted to maintain that into the season.

“Derek’s going to ask me to be a little more present this year,” Jackson announced on Friday, when he, Mills and Fisher had their first media session before training camp opened.

Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher and Steve Mills discuss expectations for the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony's leadership role and more.

He would go on to explain that last season he would briefly step into some film sessions Fisher held with the coaching staff, but avoided having too great of a presence because he didn’t want to overshadow Fisher’s position as head coach. He would watch practice, but, again, wanted to leave the focus on Fisher and allow his rookie coach to develop as the leader of the group.

Fisher often told me last season that he welcomed Jackson’s insight and input and there were several times during the year that it was evident — with all this team went through — that Fisher could have used more of Jackson’s presence on a daily basis. But, he admitted, “there were times last year, out of respect for each other’s titles, as we learned how to operate from player-coach to President and Head Coach, kind of not wanting to bother each other or overload each other with information.”

So this season, we should expect to see more of Jackson taking an active role with the team. Not necessarily coaching and not necessarily on the court in practice, but perhaps more of an active role in mentoring Fisher and engaging with the coaching staff. As Fisher described it: “Talking basketball, talking shop, learning from one of the great basketball minds we’ve ever seen.”

It’s important for the players to see that, as well. It’s something Carmelo Anthony certainly welcomes. While Fisher has earned respect as a former player-turned-coach, there is no one in the franchise that can deny the cachet that Jackson brings. For Melo to have someone like Jackson to talk with on a daily basis — Jackson also avoided putting too much time into talking to players during the season, again, to avoid undermining his coach — is exactly what stars in this league want.

Which brings us to another reason why this is a signification development. Throughout free agency, the Knicks realized that a certain media narrative had led to a debilitating perception among prospective targets. Agents who represented players with an interest in playing for a legend like Jackson and in a basketball city like New York said most clients were hesitant to sign with the Knicks because there was a sense perpetuated by media reports that Jackson was working from a distance and might not stay the duration of his contract.

This is a franchise that has gone through several transitions in the front office since 2008 and any agent will tell you that after money, franchise stability is a critical factor in any player’s decision-making process.

The Knicks will be back in the free agency game next summer, so it is important that they erase that narrative quickly. Jackson is an asset to this franchise and players need to know he is not only fully invested, but fully involved in the day-to-day process. And the truth of the matter is, as Mills quickly pointed out during the media address, Jackson was part of the day-to-day process last season. He was in New York for most of the season and put a lot of work in with the front office staff.

Jackson called it an “orientation” for him as a team executive. There were mistakes and there were challenges. But once the season ended, they were able to hit the re-set button with a lottery pick in Kristaps Porzingis, a crafty trade for another first rounder in Jerian Grant.

Six players return from last season’s group, two of whom were rookies (Langston Galloway and Cleanthony Early), two were journeymen who found a home (Lance Thomas and Lou Amundson), one was hampered with injuries (Jose Calderon) and the other is Melo, who is coming off knee surgery.

Among the new faces are free agents “hand-picked”, as Jackson put it, to fit the style Fisher wants to play, such as Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo.

This is a team still quite young and still quite filled with question marks. And as such, Jackson and Fisher have already learned from last season, when both made playoff proclamations before the season.

Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher and Steve Mills discuss when the Knicks will be a championship contender, the team's focus on bringing the best talent to New York and more.

“I want to stay away from expectations,” Jackson said. “It’s such a long season. We want to talk about competitiveness and home-court advantage.”

Internally, the bar is set much higher. There is an anticipation that this group could develop into a very competitive team. But you have to see how it comes together first. You have to see how Calderon looks — is he in shape? — and if Porzingis is ready to play a significant role in the lineup and if Melo can stay healthy for a full season.

They expect this to be a much better defensive team. They expect it to be grittier. But will it be good enough to make the playoffs?

Fisher, who is now sporting a full beard with some flecks of gray, is no longer a rookie coach. And he has Jackson’s word that he will bring more of a presence to the coaching staff and the team. But, Jackson said, it’s still Fisher’s job to bring this group together.

“His challenge this year is how you use personnel,” Jackson said. “It’s always a coach’s challenge: maximize everybody’s effort.”

It’s also on Jackson to maximize Fisher’s effort. And that’s why the coach wants him there.

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Liberty-Fever: Tale of the Tape

 

After knocking off the Washington Mystics in the first round, the New York Liberty takes on the rival Indiana Fever in the Eastern Conference Finals. Take a look at how the teams match up against each other.

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Ben Bailey Facts

MSG Network has partnered with Levity Entertainment Group – one of the largest producers of premium comedy specials worldwide – to bring viewers stand up comedy specials every Saturday night throughout the summer.

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1. Ben Bailey was born on October 30, 1970 in Bowling Green, Kentucky and raised in Chatham, New Jersey.

2. Moved to Los Angeles in 1993 after a bad relationship.

3. Was offered a job as a bouncer at The Comedy Store in L.A. because of his intimidating 6-foot-6 frame after bumming a cigarette from a man in a parking lot.

4. Got start in stand up comedy in 1993 after group of comics found his after-hour stories humorous and was offered an opportunity to preform.

5. Hosted the hit TV trivia game show Cash Cab on the Discovery Channel from 2005-2012.

6. Is an actual licensed taxi cab driver, as he had to officially pass the test to work on Cash Cab. 

7. Was singled out on Entertainment Weekley’s “Must List” in March 2006.

8. Had his own Comedy Central Presents special in April 2006.

9. Has appeared in several television shows, including 30 RockMADtv, and Law & Order: SVU. 

10. Had debut stand up DVD Ben Bailey: Road Rage released in 2011.

11. Bailey is a trained tri-athlete.

12. He received six Daytime Emmy nominations (2007-11, 2013) for “Outstanding Game Show Host” and won three times (2010-11, 2013).

13. Has filmed a few commericals, appearing in advertisements for Pizza Hut, Big John (Japenese blue jeans company) and Nature Valley energy bars.

14. Acted in independent comedies Bad MeatDon’t Shoot The PharmacistThey’re Made Out of Meat, and Meet Me at Rays, which he co-wrote and directed.

VISIT THE STAND UP COMEDY PAGE

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Billy Gardell Facts

MSG Network has partnered with Levity Entertainment Group – one of the largest producers of premium comedy specials worldwide – to bring viewers stand up comedy specials every Saturday night throughout the summer.

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1. Billy Gardell was born on Aug. 20, 1969 in Swissvale, PA.

2. His idol growing up was legendary actor and comedian Jackie Gleason.

3. Moved to Orlando, FL in 1980 when parents divorced.

4. Started doing stand up comedy based on a dare and made his debut performance at an open-mic night at Bonkerz Comedy Club in East Orlando on Dec. 28, 1987.

5. Later started performing opening acts at Bonkerz for Jerry Seinfeld, Andrew Dice Clay, Tom Rhodes and Drew Carey, and eventually began opening for Dennis Miller and George Carlin.

6. Gardell credits his grandmother for his career saying “she told me when I was 8 years old that I would be a comic.”

7. Made motion pitcure debut alongside Anthony Quinn and Slyvester Stallone in the 2002 film Avenging Angelo.

 8. Has appeared in several feature films including Bad Santa (2003) and You, Me and Dupree (2006), as well as numerous tv shows such as The King of Queens, My Name Is Earl, Lucky and Yes, Dear.

9. His first comedy album, Billy Gardell: Throwback was released in 2006.

10. Big break came in September of 2010 with the hit CBS television show Mike & Molly which he stars in alongside Melissa McCarthy.

11. His hilarious comedy special Halftime was released in 2011 on Comedy Central.

12. Gardell was a voice actor in the 2011 TV Short Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas.

13. He created a stand up special on Showtime called Billy Gardell Presents Road Dogs.

14. Hosts the 2015 syndicated lottery game show Monopoly Millionaires’ Club.

VISIT THE STAND UP COMEDY PAGE

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Michael Loftus Facts

MSG Network has partnered with Levity Entertainment Group – one of the largest producers of premium comedy specials worldwide – to bring viewers stand up comedy specials throughout the summer.

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1. Michael Loftus was born on July 14, 1965 in Columbus, Ohio.

2. His background is in improvisational comedy.

3. He attended Ohio State University and only discovered comedy after he dropped out.

4. Loftus co-founded the Midwest Comedy Tool & Die Comedy Troup.

5. He has preformed at the famous ACME Comedy Theater in Hollywood.

6. Has his own comedy album entitled “Twenty Dollars Worth.”

7. Was previously a writer for the hit ABC comedy series The George Lopez Show.

8. His comedy special debut,You’ve Changed, premiered in 2009.

9. He co-produced and was an executive story editor for the NBC comedy series Outsourced.

10. Was a producer and writer for the Charlie Sheen sitcom Anger Management on FX.

11. Loftus has been a regular on TruTV’s The Smoking Gun Presents…

12. He has appeared on the Warner Bros. comedy album “Executive Privilege” with Kevin Pollak and The Best of Bob & Tom CD.

13. In 2012, created and starred in American Wiseass, a half hour comedy for History Channel.

14. Created the weekly comedy satire show The Flipside with Michael Loftus in 2014.

VISIT THE STAND UP COMEDY PAGE

9. He created a conservative politicial satire show called The Flipside in 2014.
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Maz Jobrani Facts

MSG Network has partnered with Levity Entertainment Group – one of the largest producers of premium comedy specials worldwide – to bring viewers stand up comedy specials every Saturday night throughout the summer.

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1. Maz Jobrani was born on Feb. 26, 1973 in Tehran, Iran.

2. When he was six, he moved to California.

3. He studied Political Science and Italian at UC Berkeley.

4. He was on track for his Ph.D. when he decided he wanted to pursue acting and comedy instead.

5. In 1999, he made his television debut as a security guard in Chicago Hope.

6. He has since appeared in televsion shows such as 24 and Curb Your Enthusiam and in several feature films including Friday After NextThe Interpreter and 13 Going On 30.

7. He is a founding member of The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour which was formed in order to use jokes and humor to counter post-9/11 prejudice in the United States.

8. He has had a Comedy Central special with Axis of Evil and two Showtime specials.

9. In February, he released a book, I’m Not a Terrorist But I’ve Played One On TV.

10. He has performed stand-up for the King of Jordan.

11. He co-wrote and starred in Jimmy Vestvood: Amerikan Hero which came out in 2014.

12. He is involved with the Persian American Cancer Institute and the International Society for Children with Cancer.

13. His style focuses on race and the misunderstanding of Middle Easterners in America.

14. He starred as Jafar in the new Disney movie The Descendants, which came out this summer.

VISIT THE STAND UP COMEDY PAGE

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Danny Bhoy Facts

MSG Network has partnered with Levity Entertainment Group – one of the largest producers of premium comedy specials worldwide – to bring viewers stand up comedy specials every Saturday night throughout the summer.

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1. Danny Bhoy was born on Jan. 17, 1974 in Moffat, Scotland.

2. He has performed in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, United States and Sweden.

3. Danny Bhoy is his stage name, his real name is Danni Chaudhry.

4. He created his stage name from his Grandma’s nickname for him “Danny Boy” but he added an “H” because a performing dog already registered that name.

5. He began stand up in 1998 after seeing a comedy show at the Edinburgh Festival.

6. A year later he won The Daily Telegraph Newcomer Award.

7. In 2001, he joined the Edinburgh Festival this time as a performer and sold out his three week run.

8. Two years later his comedy went international when he performed at the Melbourne Comedy Festival.

9. In 2009, he performed the final show at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Perth.

10. He recorded a Comedy Central special in 2010 called Subject to Change.

11. He currently has four stand-up DVDs.

12. He has been in episodes of fifteen TV shows.

13. He is currently touring in the United Kingdom.

14. He classifies his style of comedy as observational.

VISIT THE STAND UP COMEDY PAGE

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David Crowe Facts

MSG Network has partnered with Levity Entertainment Group – one of the largest producers of premium comedy specials worldwide – to bring viewers stand up comedy specials every Saturday night throughout the summer.

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1. David Crowe was born in January of 1967 and was raised in the Pacific Northwest.

2. He spent the summers of his childhood in a boat exploring the islands of the coastline between Washington and Alaska.

3. At age 20, he spent the winter living with a native tribe of the upper Amazon called the Cofan.

4. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in English Literature.

5. After graduating, he traveled the world and visited 42 countries.

6. Crowe can say “I Love You” in six different languages.

7. He is the only comedian to win both the Seattle International Comedy Competition (1995) and the San Francisco International Stand-Up Comedy Competition (1996).

8. He was chosen to open for President Bill Clinton in 1996 at the Paramount Theater in Seattle.

9. In 2000, he made his acting debut in the film Jericho.

10. He has appeared in TV series such as Live at Gotham and Comics Unleashed.

11. In 2007, he was featured in fellow MSG comedians’ Bob & Tom Comedy All-Stars Tour.

12. Two years later, he created his own comedy special called David Crowe: Crooked Finger.

13. In 2012, Crowe released his own line of Greeting Cards called “Frank and Funny” in parternship with Compendium Inc.

14. He plans to spend his old age going from town to town just to make people laugh until he dies.

VISIT THE STAND UP COMEDY PAGE

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