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MSG KNicks
The New York Knicks took on the Golden State Warriors in an NBA game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. (Twitter screen grab)

Sneakers squeaking on the hardwood and the “string music” made by a basketball going through the net were the defining sounds in the first half of a unique NBA game played in New York on Sunday between the Knicks and the Golden State Warriors.

The game was unique for 2017, that is, because as sports fans, we’ve become accustomed to the audio and visual assault that accompanies most sporting events. In basketball, and most sports, every score and every break in the action brings with it an organist or high-tech video screen trying to keep the crowd engaged or sell something or just plain make you feel like that ticket, parking, program, souvenir, beer, hot dog, popcorn, second beer and ice cream were all worth it.

Having Madison Square Garden and the Knicks throw things back to the experience’s purest form was either refreshing or boring, depending on what you find entertaining about being at the arena in person. In fact, tell us in the attached poll what you think of the Knicks gimmick.

“Enjoy the sounds of the game,” the Knicks’ scoreboard announced in telling fans that the first half would be played without music, video or in-game entertainment.

Videos on Twitter looked and sounded like nothing fans have witnessed in watching pro basketball in modern times. You can hear the crowd and the chatter between players and the ball bouncing on the court.

It’s also kind of ironic to see the “hover to unmute” notice on Twitter videos and when you follow that call to action you don’t get much audio.

It’s an interesting tactic at a time when more teams in more leagues are going the opposite direction, and looking for diverse ways to use technology to engage with fans. Former Microsoft CEO and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is at the forefront of this movement, as he spoke at the GeekWire Sports Tech Summit last summer about innovations that could revolutionize the game.

“How do you change the way the fan appreciates the game in the arena, outside the arena during the game and outside the arena between games?” Ballmer said.

The Knicks held a one-point lead over the Warriors after the first half. But the music and in-game distractions returned for the second half and New York eventually lost 112-105.

So we want to hear from you — hold on while we turn down the music — about whether this looks like an intriguing way to take in a pro basketball game. Weigh in in our GeekWire poll.

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