Wednesday, January 23, 2008
My first NBA game at Madison Square Garden
January 21, 2008.
Thirteen games on deck in the NBA calendar.
But for me, none more important than the one here in New York City.
My first game at Madison Square Garden.
The 13-27 New York Knicks versus the 32-6 Boston Celtics.
Their records predict the most likely outcome. But then again, the Knicks had won 4 of their last 5 (against Detroit, Washington, New Jersey, and the equally hapless Miami respectively).
Maybe the Knicks could make a game out of it? Well, there was that hope.
But I was there to cheer on the Celtics anyway.
Even sported my Mitchell & Ness Larry Bird road jersey.
Truly, there is no such thing as a live experience.
Especially from my great seat. My vantage point.
Some of the highlights:
• With Kanye West's single, "Stronger" being used as the Knicks starting lineup theme music, he is probably raking in the Benjamin's during every home game at MSG.
• Malik Rose comes out into center court prior to the start of the Knicks and Celtics match up to pay tribute to Dr. King on his birthday. He also appeared on the Jumbo Tron. I assumed that was the extent of his participation that afternoon. Any you know what? I was right! These public appearances and pep talks. At least Malik his earning his paycheck.
• Kendrick Perkins was practically pitching a tent or setting up his apartment in the paint during the first quarter scoring on six straight field goals and finishing with 15. Perkins 15 – Knicks 23 after one. He ended up having a career scoring night with 24.
• The Eddy Curry line: Curry is certainly massive but not as tall as Kevin “KG” Garnett who towered above everyone on the court. Eddy takes up a lot of real estate and there was a point in the game when I thought he was going to land on all of the flat screen monitors in the reporters’ row. Scary moment!
• Knicks Head Coach (for how much longer? He was thoroughly booed during the introductions.) Isiah Thomas was right on the money when he described the Boston Celtics after the game: Thomas said, "Shit, they got Kevin Garnett." In the contest, KG was awesome. Poetry in motion. From his footwork to his post moves—it seemed like he was running rings around whoever Isiah put on him: Zach Randolph, Eddy Curry, David Lee, Jared Jeffries, and Renaldo Balkman (who guarded KG in the two minutes that he did get to play in the game). Later on, I found out that Garnett finished with his 18th double-double of the season with 20 markers, 13 caroms, and 7 dimes.
• As for Walter “Ray-Ray” Allen, he started slow but finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds (I saw him sneak in a steal a couple from KG). Ray hit two threes and an acrobatic lay-up which I really enjoyed. I’m really hoping that he eventually becomes the all-time leader in the former category.
• Rajon Rondo hit a buzzer-beater to end the half and Boston led by as much as 20 at one point. I was really hoping that the Knicks would make a game out of it and not lose by 45 again like they did up in Boston last November 29 (104-59; It was the Knicks third-worst loss in team history and their second-worst scoring performance of the shot-clock era). Now it wasn’t because I am a Knicks fan. But like one fan said behind me, “We didn’t pay to see you ref!” If the game ended up well out of hand (and eventually it did with the Celtics winning by 16), KG, Pierce, and Allen would have sat out the fourth—with these tickets, that’s not even an option.
• At one point in the game, $60 million dollar man Jared Jeffries (5-year $30 million dollar deal for him; $30 million dollar luxury tax hit for the Knicks—Go Isiah!) seems to have a clear path to the basket for a dunk or lay-up (his choice) after a botched Allen-to-Garnett alley oop play. He flubbed it. BAD! Which resulted in a Garnett dunk on the ensuing play. Jeffries heard it from the crowd. But he was not alone as there were several other occasions wherein the Garden faithful made their displeasure known to the Knicks. Going back to Jeffries, he played 24 minutes and missed all five of his shot attempts. Come to think about it, all he seemed to do on the court is foul and receive the inbounds pass, pivot, and give the leather to a guard.
• I’m a basketball guy. Not a football guy. So when Aaron Ross, Steve Smith, R.W. McQuarters and Plaxico Burress showed up on the Jumbo Tron during breaks in the game, the Garden’s atmosphere certainly changed. I’m pretty sure the Knicks wish they had that kind of support.
• Towards the end of the third quarter, I caught a glimpse of Knicks’ John Starks making his way to the exits. I was a fan of his back in his Knicks days and it was certainly nice to see him. It was also great to see 73 year-old Celtics legend Tommy Heinsohn who did the game for the C’s.
• Nate Robinson’s break away dunk looks a lot better live than it did in the Jumbo Tron replays. It didn’t even make it to ESPN’s SportsCenter’s top 10 plays of the day.
• Defensive play of the afternoon? Midway through the third quarter, Quentin Richardson takes out Paul Pierce in the span of 2 ½ minutes via disqualification resulting from double technicals. Pierce has 10 points and 7 dimes which Richardson had a big fat zero after his name in the box scores. ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan has more on that matter.
• Offensive play of the afternoon? After the Knicks kept on going consistently to their two-man game/isolation plays for either the perimeter player (Usually Jamal Crawford) or post players (Either Eddy Curry of Zach Randolph who almost always went to his left). Talk about no imagination! However, there was one particular play wherein all the aforementioned players were on the right side of the court. Randolph had position some 13 feet from the basket and flashed to the three-point area wherein he received the ball from Crawford (who was also hovering around the three point area), pivoted, and lobed the ball to a cutting Curry. Now that was there the whole game. Why didn’t Isiah and the Knicks go to it more often?
• With the win, Boston Celtics Head Coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers is officially the Eastern Conference’s head coach for the All-Star game in New Orleans next month.
• It just occurred to me. At 13-28 (41 games), the Knicks have now reached the midway point of their NBA schedule.
• Funny moment: While watching ESPN SportsCenter the next day, there was footage of Kevin Garnett celebrating as he was heading to the Celtics bench after a time out. KG handed out high-fives and low-fives to coaches and teammates. By the time he reached the end of the line, he realized that he had someone’s gold watch in his right hand as its strap had broken off. It belonged to one of the Celtics assistant coaches.
• Finally, Memorable moment: My Hon and I are seen amongst the crowd in the Jumbo Tron during a break in the fourth quarter.
That was my adventure on this cold January day.
Thanks Hon for making this happen.
Dreams do come true.
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