The following is a post to from Patrick Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post , Patrick speaks about spending a day in New York City. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.
A trip to New York City is a must for any passionate basketball fan at least once in their lifetime. The city has a rich history of roundball and offers basketball tourists ample sights and events to build an overall visit to the city around.
New York Knicks Game
The first place to start is by visiting the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena’, Madison Square Garden. The Garden plays host to the NBA’s New York Knicks as well as the WNBA’s New York Liberty and the NCAA’s St John’s Red Storm. Attending a Knick home game is without a doubt a truly enthralling experience. Even in this, perhaps the franchise’s darkest times, the arena regularly sells out. Tickets are best booked early to avoid disappointment and this can be done through the official website of the team. Prices start at $50 and the NBA season runs from late October through to the playoffs in April/June.
Madison Square Garden All Access Tour
A nice supplement to attending a game at the Garden is to take the All Access Tour. The tour costs $17 (adults) and runs approximately every 30 minutes from 11:00am – 3:00pm. The tour is very extensive, including a lot of the history of the arena professionally presented to you by your guide. The tour takes in the following plus more:
- the arena itself (including a great explanation of how the arena floor is switched from a basketball court to an ice hockey rink or a concert venue all in a matter of hours);
- the skyboxes where the big corporate clients sit in luxury;
- the WaMu theatre underneath the main arena which plays host to musicals, plays, live comedy and the annual NBA Draft;
- several members only restaurants; and
- the Knicks locker room.
It is a not to be missed experience for a Knick fan but also extremely good value for anyone interested in state of the art sports architecture.
New York Streetball
New York is also home to two of the most famous streetball venues in the world: Rucker Park and The Cage.
Taking the subway uptown to Harlem is a great experience in itself but to disembark and wander along to Rucker Park is truly an exciting moment for a hoops fan. The court is located at 155th St and Frederick Douglass Boulevard and during the summer months, crowds flock here to watch amazing basketball played by streetball legends. Several former players such as Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius Erving, as well as current players such as Rafer Alston and Jamal Tinsley made names for themselves here before plying their trade in the NBA. The games are quite well organised and although a streetball court at heart, the facilities are fantastic with an electronic scoreboard and perspex backboards. The picture below does not show the court in its true glory as, in mid-December, ice on the surface makes playing impossible.
The West 4th Street Courts, commonly referred to as ‘The Cage’ are located in Greenwich Village. Though perhaps not as internationally famous as Rucker Park, the courts also play host to some amazing streetball in the warmer months.
The NBA Store on 5th Avenue
No basketball trip to NYC would be complete without a stop at the flagship NBA Store on 5th Avenue. The store takes up two floors of prime shopping real estate and contains merchandise for every NBA and WNBA team. If you can think of something you would like in your team’s colours or with their logo, chances are the store has it stocked. It is a truly magnificent shrine to the NBA and well worth wrestling the 5th Avenue crowds to visit.
Suggested Itinerary for a Day of NYC Basketball
- Start by heading uptown on the subway to visit Rucker Park in Harlem and, if the season is right, take in some of the best streetball seen anywhere in the world.
- From Harlem, head back downtown to the Garden for the All Access Tour. If you are lucky, you may get to see either the Knicks or their opponent for the night at their shoot around session.
- From the Garden, head back uptown to 5th Avenue and visit the NBA Store foran hour or two. Make sure the wallet is full or the credit card empty before you go!!!
- In the afternoon, take the subway to West 4th Street and marvel at the second shining example of big city streetball that New York has to offer.
- A few hours before tip off at the Knicks game, head to a restaurant or bar for some dinner. Many establishments around the Garden cater for sports fans and you can start taking in the atmosphere for the big game.
- Make sure you enter the Garden an hour before tip off. This will ensure that no matter where your seats are located, you can make your way courtside for the teams’ warm up sessions. This is a great way to see just how immense NBA athletes really are and also allows for some sensational photos to be taken.