Former New York Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet, center, greets...

Former New York Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet, center, greets fans and Fox 5 reporter Tina Cervasio, far right, during the AFC Championship game between the Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers at his nightclub, Social in Uniondale. (Jan. 23, 2011) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

When the Knicks open the regular season Wednesday, they will do so without a familiar face courtside -- reporter Tina Cervasio.

Cervasio, who had been at MSG since 2008, learned in late June her contract would not be renewed. MSG later hired Rebecca Haarlow for the role. Cervasio's final assignment for MSG will be Sunday's Red Bulls game against the Fire.

"I was very upset initially," she said during the Mets' off-day World Series workout at Citi Field Friday. "I was shocked. I did not see it coming. My contract was only up in a couple of days when I got the call. So it was very shocking and I was really disappointed.

"I loved my job covering the Knicks and Red Bulls. I was there a long time. Especially with the new staff, I just felt like it was a rough year covering 17 wins, or you could say 65 losses (last season). I felt like I laid really nice groundwork, and I was at the draft. I lost a job that I loved, so I was upset."

Cervasio would not say who delivered the news, but she said she was told "they were looking to reach a new audience or a different audience, I don't know. They were looking for a new chemistry."

Later she was asked to finish the Red Bulls' season and agreed, gladly. "I like to work and I love my role with the Red Bulls as a host," she said.

MSG issued a statement that said, "MSG would like to thank Tina for her work on Knicks and Red Bulls telecasts and we wish her all the best."

"I wasn't told I made a mistake," she said. "I wasn't told about an attitude or my work ethic. I've always changed the way they wanted me to change. If they wanted me to do something different I always did that ... I didn't expect anything was awry."

Cervasio said hearing from a variety of people around the NBA made it easier to move on.

"I got an email from a current Knicks player on behalf of the guys that I covered that they were bummed to hear I wouldn't be there and wishing me the best and praying for me," she said. "So that really touched me."

Cervasio, 40, has been working as a freelancer for Fox 5 television, a role that has become more regular since she got the news from MSG. "They have entrusted me with good stories," she said.

She also plans to continue her involvement with the Red Bulls' digital operation.

"I'm looking at this as something very good," she said, "because it's going to force me to grow and have a new role."

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