It's the night before the first New York Knickerbockers playoff game at Madison Square since 2004 and I've got a pair of tickets staring up at me from desk. I'm pacing around the apartment like tomorrow's the first day of high school and I've just moved cross country from dingy North Jersey to a Southern California town where the local toughs learn karate instead of play normal sports.
I'm excited. Because the Knicks might win. I'm nervous. Because the Celtics might. I've got my lunch packed (two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a banana) and my first beer planned (from the stand across from the ticket windows in the LIRR station beneath the Garden). As best I can tell there is just one last thing to square before I try to fitfully sleep as I fret about spasming back muscles and knee blood.
What Knicks gear am I going to wear?
The J. Crew khaki pants that I wore to work today were unwashed and have been missing a button atop the zipper for more than a year. The fabric in the crotch and in the seat is thinning, but I will wear them until they tear. Same goes for the coffee chinos that I'll likely wear to work tomorrow. The remainder of my limited wardrobe of office clothes is in the same state of disrepair. I insist on wearing and re-wearing the same things over and over and am very reluctant to buy new clothes. This is especially true with pants. Because, don't you hate pants?
Work is a place that I attend five days a week, weekly, forever. Knicks games, on the other hand, are things that I could never attend more than 60 times per year and never have more than 35. Yet, my closet and dresser and home office are bursting at the seams with squirreled away Knicks gear as if there will be some circumstance that calls for me to dress solely in blue and orange or to sport the visage of Patrick Ewing at all times. While I admit that this is unlikely I've been amassing Sand Knit, Champion and Mitchell & Ness jerseys like my more successful and dapper friends collect wristwatches.
Hmm... a Knicks watch? I don't have one of those. I mean, I do have a few wristbands but nothing with moving parts. While I check eBay for anything like that, here's a look at the options I'm sifting through in advance of Game 3 tomorrow night.
The Varsity Jacket: First up is a vintage varsity-style Knicks jacket. It has a dark blue wool body with white leather sleeves just like the one your dad wore when he was going down to Arnold's for a fountain soda. All patches and letters are sewn on and awesome. Easily the classiest choice of all that follows.
The Satin Bomber: Next up, we've got the choice of a new generation. This Starter jacket has a light blue suede body and bright orange leather(ish) sleeves. The patch sewn on the back is satin. Yes, suede and satin. Oh, and orange leather, too.
The Ex-Patrick: I lived in London in 2001. Some would say that I felt compelled to leave New York after the Knicks unceremoniously traded Patrick Ewing to the Seattle Supersonics. Those people would be wrong. I left the States to study at King's College for a year. Nevertheless, Patrick was on my mind. We were both strangers in strange lands that uncertain year. This olive military style coat was purchased at a thrift store up in Camden Town, a northwest London neighborhood full of thrift shops, record stores and flea markets. During many visits, the two best things I purchased were this coat and a bootleg of Nirvana's 1992 performance at the Reading Festival. It was on a cassette. I would eventually lose the cassette. But I managed to repatriate the coat. It originally had East German flags on the sleeves. I cut them off and sewed an American flag on one sleeve and a New York Knicks patch on the other. I later added the commemorative pin from the night that Patrick's No. 33 was retired at the Garden.
T-Shirts & Jerseys:
The Original: My fetish - and after showing you all of this stuff there really isn't much else I can call it - for Knicks gear began before I was 10 years old. Being the only child accompanying my grandfather, father and uncle to 'bockers battles at the Garden back in the late 1980s, there was usually someone with me who felt like spoiling me each time the souvenir stand unveiled a new t-shirt. Illustrations of the players were the big thing on the shirts at the time. This shirt depicting the 1988–89 Atlantic Division Champion Knickerbockers was one of my two favorites. It's a size small and there is a tag with name sewn into it.
I placed a shoe next to the shirt to offer some perspective.