I saw Carmelo Anthony play in the Mecca of sports arenas


Ben Lawson, Staff Writer

I was in the Mecca of sports arenas, thinking of the sacred history that this garden had been a home to.
Each crowned champion was a flower of achievement that made this arena what it is today. “Down Goes Frazier” was echoed here when Muhammad Ali took down Joe Frazier for the fight of the century. Knicks center Patrick Ewing made others look like embarrassments here. The first college basketball game was played here. I was in Madison Square Garden to see the New York Knicks take on the Brooklyn Nets for my first NBA game and what a scene it was.
Basketball never really grabbed my attention on television but the style and sound of the sport always intrigued me. I didn’t really know what to expect as we trekked our way through a flood of fans up to our upper level seats with a bird’s eye view of the court. We arrived to the scene of the Brooklyn Nets warming up when I spotted someone who had brought insanity to this place 5 years ago. No, insanity isn’t the right word. LINsanity is.
Point guard Jeremy Lin was the underdog story that everyone was rooting for, for a crazy few weeks. Undrafted out of Harvard, Lin bounced from team to team with short contracts that never really stuck. But, when he landed a fourth string spot on the New York Knicks, he would work his way up to starting point guard. He eventually would lead this 8-15 team to 9 wins with him starting. He brought hope to a team in despair and he was back against his team of fame.
After some pregame amusement from a pickup game of younger kids, the arena went dark. A fiery fluorescent glow of orange lit up the court as the lineups were announced.
I had goosebumps. The game began and the knicks were hot. Carmelo was Carmelo, sinking fadeaways like it was just another day at work. Derrick Rose had his finesse-style game working like a charm, finding a hole to the basket often. The Nets however wouldn’t back down. Jeremy Lin began to get hot, feeding off of the boo’s from the crowd. It felt like every time the Knicks began to pull away, the Nets had an answer to keep their breath alive.
The Garden was rocking. The knicks were on a roll at halftime leading 54 to 61 with momentum. Throughout the game, we were scoping out the courtside seats to see any big names. Upcoming NFL draft star and Running Back Leornard Fournette was there. Hometown hero and Super Bowl winning defensive tackle of the New York Giants, Justin Tuck was there. I thought I saw Jerry Seinfeld, my buddy Jack thought it was Ben Stiller with his son. As the 1st half came to a close, we decided we had to get closer to be sure.
We left our seats on a quest for a clear cut view of the court. Down to the 1st level we went, scheming a plan on how we would get past security guards checking tickets. As halftime came closer, we decided it was best to blend in with the crowd as many left their seats during the break. And it worked perfectly. We were now almost behind the basket on what had to be
Dirty looks were shot our way as we scooted past people. They knew we weren’t from here. We didn’t care because what we saw looked like something out of a movie. I rushed over to a nearby railing to see the players as they went to the locker room hoping to get a high five or maybe even a towel when I was met by a security guard.
“Can I see your ticket?”, he asked. I was frozen. Too nervous to make something up on the spot I told the man our tickets were left at our actual seats. As I turned around to head back to our original seats, I found Jack next to a beautiful woman saying she would let us sit with her. “Our friends bailed on us, so you can sit with us”, she said. Two seats just rows from the court had found us by pure luck.
She was definitely from here from the sound of her deep “NEWYAWK” accent and the way her boyfriend and her argued about accusations of him sleeping with another woman. I didn’t care. It was truly a sight to behold. The game began to slip from the Knicks fingers as the Nets came back with fire in their belly, dominating the second half. Besides the nasty block Carmelo Anthony had right in front of us, the game was all Brooklyn’s.
Listening to other New York natives from the crowd, it sounded like they were accustomed to the Knicks losing their edge when it mattered. That’s what they did unfortunately. The Nets surged in the second half to win 121-110 but that didn’t really make a difference to me. What made the difference was that I experienced a rivalry basketball game in one of the most legendary arenas in all of sports. When it came down to it, this wasn’t just a basketball game, it was an incredible experience that I will tell my grandchildren, who might just be knicks fans.