So I emerged unscathed from my encounter with the scalpers--ticket brokers, I mean--and made my way into the Garden. I stopped at a concession stand before finding my seat, and only had to wait behind one person even though it was just a few minutes until tip-off. So far so good.
I got a jumbo dog (excellent), a big pretzel (not bad), and ordered a small drink, but was informed that all drinks cost the same at MSG, regardless of size. Slightly stunned, I felt obligated to upgrade to a medium, a decision that would haunt me come the 4th quarter.
I got settled in my seat just in time to stand back up for the national anthem, performed by Broadway star Naturi Naughton. It was, um, kinda weird. Very over the top, not really my cup of tea, but the crowd ate it up (even though they all seemed to be foreigners, as I saw very few people put their hand on their heart).
I then had some time to take in my surroundings. My seat was actually really good, near the front of the third of five seating levels, behind the Jazz bench. MSG isn't nearly as steep as the Dump, either (that's what I like to call Energy Solutions Arena). I gazed up at the legendary New York sports figures who've had their numbers retired at MSG: names like Earl Monroe, Walt "Clyde" Frazier, Mark Messier, Billy Joel...
Billy Joel?! And Elton John too? Seriously? As good as their music is (Storm Front was the first album I ever purchased), seeing their "jerseys" cheapened the entire experience for me a little bit.
I had my camera with me, the first time I was planning on using it after more than two weeks in the city. Had I tried to take pictures of less-exciting things earlier, I would've noticed that there were no batteries in my camera. D'oh!
I wondered how I would be treated by the NY fans as I cheered for the Jazz. I stood and applauded as the Jazz starting lineup was announced, and I heard a "Hey, wrong team" from somewhere behind me, but that was the full extent of the vitriol directed towards me. Several reasons for this: midway through the 1st quarter, the Knicks took the lead for good, so the fans probably didn't mind my cheering; the Jazz played poorly for three quarters, so I didn't have much to cheer for; but most of all, because I seemed to be in the center of a section of eastern Europeans who were all cheering for Andrei Kirilenko.
The Knicks' fans certainly weren't shy about booing, though. During the introductions, the fans were merciless when the names of Stephon Marbury and head coach Isiah Thomas were announced; Marbury would get plenty of cheers later on, as he had a great game, but nobody likes Isiah. Eight weeks after the game, I can't believe he hasn't been fired yet. The fans also booed a guy who bricked several free throws in one of those layup-free throw-three pointer timeout promotions. That was pretty funny.
My night at MSG included several "celebrity" "sightings" (no big names, and I didn't actually see them--they were shown on the Garden Vision scoreboard). The "stars" in attendance included Rev Run of Run DMC, a few guys from HBO shows (Sopranos and Entourage) that I've never watched, and New York Ranger Sean Avery, who used to date Elisha Cuthbert of 24 fame (I've still got my fingers crossed that she gets back together with that cougar from season 2). I'm pretty sure Spike Lee wasn't there; maybe he can't afford courtside seats any more after She Hate Me bombed at the box office.
The Jazz refused to play defense, a problem that's plagued them on the road all season, but made a furious rally in the 4th quarter and had a chance to take the lead with about a minute left, but they blew it and the Knicks held on for the win. It was a high-scoring, entertaining game, but I believe Utah is now 1-7 or something like that in games I've attended. I'm the bad luck guy.
The 4th quarter drama was intensified by my battle with my bladder; why did I have to get the medium? I played through the pain, though, and made it all the way back to my apartment--111 blocks on the subway--before obtaining relief. Based on MSG's standards, that feat should get me a number hanging from the rafters someday.