MSG auctioning paintings of Justin Tuck, Tyson Chandler and cast of The Sopranos

Image 5And now for the charity-minded, art-loving sports fan who has to have sports paintings, not photos, in his or her living room or study.

Madison Square Garden is selling six autographed art pieces by longtime MSG photographer George Kalinsky. All proceeds from the gallery sale go to benefit kids involved in the Garden of Dreams charity.

IMG_0354The canvases include images of New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler, goalie Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Justin Tuck of the New York Giants, Knicks legend Walt Frazier, Rangers legend Adam Graves, plus James Gandolfini, Steve Schirripa, Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico and Steve Van Zandt of HBO’s The Sopranos.

Image 3You’ll have to pay a pretty penny for the originals. The 36″ X 48″ canvasses are being auctioned at a starting bid of $2,500 on SteinerSports.com. For fans on a budget, you can also buy signed, 18″ X 24″ poster prints for $200; unsigned posters for $75.

During Tuesday’s announcement at the Garden, MSG’s Hank Ratner said they came up with the idea of a public auction when the high-rolling customers frequenting the remodeled Garden’s new Image 7“event level” suites kept commenting on the  paintings lining the hallways — and asked how they could buy them.

ImageAfter the event, Tuck told (New York) Newsday he’s leaning toward the Baltimore Ravens to emerge the winner of Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers.

“They seem to be a team of destiny. I’m reminded of some of our Super Bowl wins. Of a team getting hot. A team with a great leader in Ray Lewis. A quarterback that’s playing lights out in (Joe) Flacco. I think it’s going to be one of those classic NFL games that going to come down to the wire. The team that doesn’t make the mistakes at the end of the football game is going to win it. Who that’s going to be? I have no clue. Vegas usually gets these things right. So you all might wanna look at that.”

Image 2Tuck’s Giants dominated the 49ers 26-3 at Candlestick Park in October. SportsBizUSA asked Tuck: does it frustrate him and his teammates to watch a team they pounded play in the Super Bowl?

“Not really,” Tuck answered.”I think of it like this: There were some games that we got dominated when we won the Super Bowl. Washington beat us twice the last time we won the Super Bowl. It’s all about the team that’s playing best at the right time. Obviously, San Fran is doing that.”

I asked Sirico, a Brooklyn native, if he had any issues with the controversial ending of The Sopranos. Nope, he said. After all his “Paulie Walnuts” character survived the bloody finale.

Here’s my favorite Sirico scene where he explains the difference between Hell and Purgatory to a wounded Christopher: “Hell is hot. That’s never been disputed by anybody.”

At the end of the event, I walked around and took a close look at all of the paintings. I liked the Tuck canvas best. Kalinsky said his two favorites are his Tuck and Frazier.

Frazier said it was Kalinsky’s photos of him in hats and fur coats in the 1970’s that helped establish his swinging “Clyde” persona.

IMG_0352“George is the guy who made me famous as ‘Clyde.’ I had the hat on one day — and he took a picture. I’m really indebted to him for all his creativity,” said Frazier, who now calls Knicks games for MSG Network.

Photo credits: James Braswell, SportsBizUSA

BOTTOM LINE: LANCE ARMSTRONG IS FINISHED, DONE, AS AN ENDORSER ON MADISON AVENUE, SAY EXPERTS

From the minute he opened his mouth to Oprah Winfrey, Lance Armstrong was finished as an athletic endorser on Madison Avenue.

LanceIn his “tell-all” interview Thursday, Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing-drugs, cheating his way to seven Tour de France titles and bullying friends and foes who tried to blow the whistle on his cheating. Oh yes, he never felt bad about any of it — until he was caught by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, stripped of his titles and banned from elite competitions for life.

I asked several sports marketing, Crisis PR and body language experts for Advertising Age if Lance had a shot at reclaiming endorsers such as Nike, Anheuser-Busch and Oakley that dumped him in October. Or if he was a believable witness for himself. They said Armstrong blew his last chance at redemption.

Meanwhile, it’s worth remembering the comments of Bryant Gumbel of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on October 23 when he weighed in on Oakley cutting ties with Armstrong.  The legend of Lance Armstrong was a fraud, he said:

“Finally tonight, congratulations to Oakley. Just yesterday the sunglasses, goggles and apparel company became the latest sponsor to cut ties with Lance Armstrong, the cyclist who for so long posed as a champion yet seems to have been little more than a liar, a cheater, a doper and a briber Even though we’ve witnessed the disgrace of Pete Rose, the exposure of Tiger Woods and the incarceration of OJ, it’s hard to think we’ve ever seen any athlete in any era fall so hard so fast as Armstrong. The guy who bullied his way past any and all accusations for years while hiding behind his lawyers has now been understandably cowered into silence and, at last, officially stripped of all seven of those Tour de France titles that he conned so many into thinking he won, while pocketing millions in the process.

While I can’t think of any single athlete more undeserving of empathy, I’m sure many will note the money he raised for cancer research and see him as simply a flawed hero. But in light of his cited patterns of deceptions, intimidation, and coercion, it’s hard not to see even his charity work as simply part of his con act. If the accusations of investigators are true, and by now there’s no intelligent reason to doubt they are, Lance Armstrong threatened his friends, bribed his foes, cheated his fans, and deceived his sponsors – all of whom thought he was one of a kind. Turns out there were right, he was one of a kind – the worst kind.”

BUDWEISER HONORS ‘STAN THE MAN’ WITH TRIBUTE AD

Another reason to love Stan “The Man” Musial. The MLB legend shared a Budwesier with grandson and caretaker Brian Schwarze before passing away, according to St. Louis TV station KSDK.

Anheuser-Busch, the quintessential St. Louis brewer, is honoring the 3-time National League MVP with a tribute ad in Sports Illustrated and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Musial died at age 92 on Jan. 19.

What, do you think Stan The Man, an American baseball hero, would ask for an import on his deathbed? Here’s A-B’s tribute to St. Louis’ favorite son:

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