ESPN’s NBA columnist Marc Stein is the subject of Sunday’s Mixed Media column. Stein grew up in Olean and has a strong allegiance to the Sabres and the defunct NBA Braves.
During our conversation this week, Stein talked about attending a Sabres game in Dallas during March.
“They came to Dallas to play the Stars on March 23, which will be recorded in my career datebook as the most complicated sporting event I've ever watched live,” Stein said. “Like any Sabres fan, knowing a win would damage our McEichel hopes, I was a mess that night. I didn't know what to do in my seat. The Sabres took the lead three times and after every goal I sat there numb. There was no way I was going to cheer AGAINST my boys, but I certainly wasn't dancing after any of the goals we scored, either.
“During intermissions, other Sabres fans in the house were wandering up to me, almost looking for reassurance that it was OK to be secretly wishing against a W. We were all confused and admittedly relieved in the end to see a wild 4-3 defeat. And I gained a whole new appreciation that night for fans of the Sixers, who were in the same boat this season with a group of youngsters who always played insanely hard even though management had assembled a roster with the lottery in mind.
“Everyone wants to jump on some of those late-season crowds at First Niagara, but I implore you to take it easy on Sabres Nation. When losing is the right thing for your team's future, you don't know what to do in the stands. Trust me: It's ridiculously easy to think, say and do things, as a fan, that you regret later. There's no manual for this. I'm just glad it's over and we can let the Eichel Era begin in earnest.”