Review: New York Knicks vs. Dallas Mavericks at Madison Square Garden

In case anyone finds themselves misled by the title of this post, I should probably start off by saying that this isn’t really a review. At least not in the ordinary sense of the word. I’m not actually going to ‘review’ anything, because in truth I know absolutely nothing about basketball, or any other type of sport. In fact, until two weeks’ ago, I wasn’t even sure that the Knicks were a basketball team. For all I knew, they could have been a  travelling circus or a barbershop quartet.

Now we’ve got that bombshell out of the way, I’m going to assume that any serious sporting fans have stopped reading out of sheer disdain, and that my remaining audience consists of like-minded sports game virgins. If for some crazy reason there are still any basketball fans reading this, I ask only that you keep an open mind, prepare yourself for a laugh and hold fire until I reach the end of my sorry, ill-informed tale.

I’ve already mentioned that this was my first ever basketball game, so it follows that I didn’t have the faintest idea what to expect. I’d never even seen any matches on television, so what I had in mind was some kind of monstrous football-rugby-hockey hybrid, an understanding based solely upon my limited, hazy experience of various decade-old world cup tournaments.

As we made our way through (the very thorough) security, I braced myself for the impending onslaught, expecting to be lost in a sea of rowdy, beer-swilling hooligans shouting obscene chants at the top of their lungs. Of course, the place was packed, and of course it was very, very noisy, but in every other aspect, I couldn’t have been more wrong; it wasn’t at all what I’d thought it would be. The atmosphere was incredible, and as I made my way up the first of five escalators, I let it all wash over me, drinking it in like some kind of wonderful intoxicating nectar. The whole building was awash with orange and blue, and everyone seemed to be gliding along, as if floating on an invisible cloud of anticipation and excitement. After a while, I realised that it was possible to gauge the extent of each person’s fanaticism by the amount of orange &/ blue visible on their person; some people (clearly first-timers like myself) wore no team colours at all, or had arrived sporting only a token foam finger, but others, (the ones I deemed ‘hardcore’) were dressed from head to toe in brightly coloured memorabilia – bobble hat and all – and looked like a cross between a bottle of Lucozade and a human ‘Tony the Tiger’.

Not long after after everyone had taken their seats, a loud familiar fanfare filled the stadium, announcing the start of the proceedings and whipping the crowd up into a frenzy. What with the music, the over-enthusiastic voice-over man and the giant television screen, the whole thing was all very surreal; almost like being an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. I half expected to turn my head and find an excitable Joey Tribiani in the bleachers behind me. A few minutes passed, and then the over-enthusiastic voice over man (who turned out to be the Compare) announced in characteristic over-enthusiastic style, that we should all be upstanding because the cast of the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys, were about to sing the National Anthem.

Now, I saw Jersey Boys in London about a year ago and enjoyed it immensely, so needless to say I was very excited about this. The problem was though, that despite having been in the country for almost two weeks’, I still hadn’t quite managed to adjust to my surroundings, and when they eventually started to sing, I was ever so slightly confused.

‘But I thought he said they were sining the National Anthem?’ I said to my long-suffering boyfriend.

‘He did’.

‘So, why aren’t they singing it?’ I said, still genuinely baffled by the situation. For a second, he simply stared at me in mild disbelief before his face broke into a wide grin. My outward expression had obviously betrayed the veritable tug-of-war that had been going on inside my head. As a group of technicians frantically attempted to rectify a problem with the cast’s microphones, I suddenly remembered that I was in fact in America, not London, and that of course, contrary to my initial expectations, they would not be sining ‘God Save the Queen’. Right. Glad I cleared that one up.

In the midst of all the excitement, I started to feel a bit jaded; like a small child up way past its bedtime, trespassing in the strange, mysterious world of adults who know a lot of things I didn’t. It wasn’t that I was finding it hard to keep up –  the whole thing was surprisingly easy to follow – but I think the city was finally starting to take it’s toll. Luckily, unlike most sports events in the UK, basketball matches not only include motivational music, games and various other moral-boosting tactics, but also, to my utter delight, well-timed regular breaks. I was actually starting to like this basketball malarky.

A large coke and huge lump of warm, salty dough later (I’m not sure but I think they’re calling it a ‘Pretzel’…) I felt revived and ready for action. And by ‘action’ I obviously mean sitting on my bum watching other people run around trying to get a ball into a hoop. As rest of the evening got underway, it was clear – even to a basketball novice such as myself – that the Knicks were’t playing their best. The opposing team (the Dallas Mavericks) had taken the lead right at the beginning of the first quarter and managed to hold on to it for most of the game, which was obviously pretty frustrating. In fact, it wasn’t until the final few minutes of the game that they actually had a realistic chance of breaking even, let alone coming away with a victory. During the last few moments, when we all thought it was over, they really picked up the pace and managed to claw their way into the lead. But only for a split second. The referee had added another second onto the clock, (I know, big whoop, right?) giving the Mavericks just enough time to finish the job properly, and the final score was Dallas Mavericks 110, Knicks 108.

I’ll admit that what with all the hype, I had really expected them to win, but unlike most other people around me, I didn’t actually mind too much. As a basketball novice and non-fan, I thought that the close finish would have been a good thing. I mean, okay, so they didn’t win, but they nearly did. Doesn’t that count for something?

Oh, how wrong I was.


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