Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The More Things Change...

Knicks Lose to Celtics, 90-101

Bobbing and weaving my way south through midtown it started to seem real again. It being the shrill autumn wind slaloming between the office buildings, the Knicks, basketball and the Garden. All of it. There have been so many night at Shea and even a few in the Bronx for baseball and already so many hours logged in front of the television for football that hoops has been pushed past the last remembered bits of waking dreams into the recesses of my brain. Of course, it's also possible that recent Knicks history has played a part of in my pushing aside of basketball after the final game was played last season. It's possible that I sought refuge in the 2008 Mets to salve the burn left behind by the 2007-2008 Knicks. Thankfully, that whole Mets thing totally worked out for me. For us. Right?
Anyway, it all comes rushing back as I set the plastic tray down at my second-floor table at the Nathan's on 32nd Street and Seventh Avenue. I'm ready to go. And by "go," I mean eat the No. 2 meal and then cross the street to watch pre-season basketball by myself at Madison Square Garden.

After eating my two hot dogs and drinking my lemonade I make my way past the ticket scalpers and Donnie Walsh's welcome-back message and towards the bag-checkers and body-searchers. The crowd is a decent size for a Tuesday night in the middle of October. In East Rutherford, that is. It's unremarkable compared with the teeming masses several floors below in Penn Station.Fans were crowded about the merch booths snapping up the newest/bluest gear and a surprising amount of foam fingers. Seriously there were way to many people buying foam fingers. And, I'm not really sure why. The foam-fingered crowd never even flirted with capacity and was made up of a noteworthy minority of Celtics fans. Because the champs were here.

(Thoughts on the "game" itself are coming soon to a post near you. In the meantime, enjoy the pretty pictures)

Season's Greeting

This message from Knicks GM Donnie Walsh greets fans approaching the Seventh Avenue entrance to MSG. I dig it. It's humble and ambitious. It's honest. Which is something this organization hasn't been in a while. Of course, it could eventually prove hollow and pandering. But, lets not get ahead of ourselves. For the time being, it is another positive, albeit subtle, move undertaken by the Walsh regime that began with the distribution of a ridiculous amount of free food at the final home game of last season.

Speaking of last season, this space was filled last year with images of the players on the team. The entire rotation loomed dozens of feet tall as fans entered and egressed. Each player had a ball in their hand. All save one was attempting a shot. None were pictured attempting a pass or in a defensive posture (the non-shooting player, Balkman, was dribbling and was most likely slicing to the rim himself). In this way the wall-sized poster was an apt depiction of the way the team was playing on the court: overlapping, undercutting and incoherent. Beneath each player's image was listed positions such as "the floor general" and "the warrior." In this way also, the wall-sized poster was an apt depiction of the way the team was playing: all ego and machismo earned from past deeds which had been wrung dry long ago and were bereft of capital by the time the poster was hung.

Again, this new is message is an improvement. It is humble where the other was boastful. It actually says something were the other was simply more marketing. Walsh's message implies accountability whereas last year's "message" only implied that each of us fans was lucky to be able to see such a collection of famous and larger-than-life athletes.