Live from the World’s Most Famous Arena
Well, this has definitely been the experience of a 28-year career as a sportswriter, but I write this now sitting inside Madison Square Garden, covering Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinal between the Knicks and the Boston Celtics.
I was able to secure the assignment and there’s definitely a hum and a buzz around the Garden like we haven’t seen in ages.
I covered my fair share of Knick playoff games dating back to 1984 and there’s nothing like the buzz going on right now here.
However, I don’t exactly have a prime location in the makeshift press room. I’m sitting on top of a stage area, typing away on a collapsible table that I had to put together. It’s definitely the most unique working situation I’ve ever had for a pro sports contest.
It almost meant giving the laptop its true meaning, with the laptop sitting on my lap, but I found this table and laid claim to it. It’s pretty wild.
In any case, I wanted to send out the mood of the city and it’s definitely hopping, much like former Knick sharpshooter Allan Houston predicted at Knicks’ practice at the team’s facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. Thursday.
“I think Madison Square Garden is one of the few places in the world that can bring it up to a different level in the playoffs,” Houston said. “As exciting as it is to play there in the regular season, it’s at a different level in the playoffs. It’s really hard to describe unless you’ve experienced it.”
Houston was asked if he shared those experiences with the current Knicks, many of whom have never played in a single playoff game before last Sunday.
“It’s one of those things that as a player, you can get so amped up and lose focus,” Houston said. “You have to stay focused on the task at hand. I know that I had trouble sleeping about this game. I am just as excited as the players are. I know what they’re going to experience and it’s like nothing else.”
Houston was asked if the Amar’e Stoudemire situation was going to resemble Willis Reed’s dramatic performance in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, when an injured Reed walked through the tunnel and the crowd let out a deafening roar.
“I think with today’s social media, with Twitter and Facebook, people will know if he’s going to play,” Houston said.
Guess what? Houston was right. Everyone knows Stoudemire’s status.
Houston said his favorite Knick-Garden playoff moment came in the 1999 NBA Finals, when the Knicks faced the Spurs.
“You could actually feel the building move,” Houston said. “It was memorable for me, because my daughter was born the next day. It doesn’t get any better than that. But it really felt like the floor lifted up that night. I just remember looking into the crowd that night and taking it all in.”
Maybe there will be a similar memorable moment tonight.
“It’s definitely going to be crazy and crazy is an understatement,” Carmelo Anthony said.
“The whole city is excited. The place will be exciting. I hope to match the crowd’s energy and excitement.”
We’ll see in about 15 minutes. The Garden hasn’t hosted a Knick playoff game since April 22, 2004. The Knicks haven’t won a home playoff game since beating the Raptors on April 22, 2001. And today’s date? April 22. Pretty ironic, no?
We’ll check back later.