NEW YORK – As I walked through Madison Square Garden out onto the floor for the Sweet 16, I heard a group of Baylor cheerleaders talking behind me. One explained to the group, “Madison Square Garden is the world’s most famous arena.”
Great branding by MSG — no thanks to its professional basketball tenant.
Quick, name the most exciting Knicks moment at the Garden of the last 10 years. Does it involve Jeremy Lin? There was the brief glimmer of Knicks Tape. A couple Porzingis putback dunks. Even when history is made at MSG, it’s being made by LeBron, or Kobe, or Steph. Or in the case of the Knicks, it’s simply made for ineptitude, like when Charles Oakley famously got kicked out of the arena by James Dolan’s security team in February.
Henrik Lundqvist may have more signature moments by himself in the last decade than the Knicks as a team. It’s crazy to think, and even crazier to be made true, but the Knicks have become the Clippers of their own building.
Yet the Garden remains the Mecca of basketball, spoken about in hushed tones with the kind of reverence usually reserved for sports franchises that actually, you know, win.