New York basketball junkies who have gone without for the better part of Ten years are finally getting their fix. The Knicks have reasserted their relevance and The Big East Tournament in full swing, with St. Johns amongst the top seeds.
For most of the 20th Century, Madison Square Garden was referred to as ‘The Mecca of Basketball’ by fans and players alike, and it was a moniker that no one questioned. Since the dawn of the 21st century, however, that title has seemed outdated and more warm memory than reality.
With the amount of quality basketball there is to see at MSG over the next 10 days, the Mecca has reemerged as a shrine for basketball devotees; and they are showing their fervor by driving up average prices to levels that can pay rent if you choose to watch from the couch instead. For many, though, the allure of afternoon doubleheaders and marquee prime-time matchups is too great to resist.
While the next ten days at MSG are a clear sign of rebirth, the basketball renaissance in New York runs deeper. This year, four teams from the New York Metropolitan area–St. John’s, St. Peter’s, Stony Brook and LI– have a chance to make it to the Dance. If one of those teams can make a magical run, it would be the first New York Metro team to make the Final Four since St. Johns did so in 1985, and the first team to win the championship since 1950 when City College of New York won at the old Madison Square Garden.
Right now, The Johnnies are a 40/1 long shot to win the tournament, so while we won’t likely see a New York champion in 2011, the next month should go a long way toward re-establishing basketball in the heart of New York sports fans. More importantly, it may also generate enough interest amongst young athletes to drive a new generation of native stars in a city with a rich, if somewhat dated, hardwood pedigree.
For tickets to any of these games at The Garden, click here.