Monday, March 26, 2012

Asian America’s Team: GCAS at MSG

It had been 20 games since New York City was turned upside down with Jeremy Lin entering the lineup. Mike D’Antoni had just resigned or been fired two days prior, leaving Mike Woodson in charge of a sluggish under-achieving Knicks team. We had bought tickets to this game soon after Linsanity took the world by storm while planning a trip to New York City for Peter, Mok, and Hao. This would be their first experience in Madison Square Garden. We got there about ten minutes before 7:00 after a quick meal at Bon Chon only to hit the rush. Storming MSG right before the start of a game can get quite crowded with the limited number of entry points into the stadium. Of course the guys were out-of-towners from Texas, so the feeling of being pushed up against hundreds of people trying to get into a few doors wasn't ideal.

We made our way up to the top level, and to my disappointment, I realize there wasn’t much when it came to food -- good thing we took care of dinner before we came. (A few weeks ago I had attended a Rangers game with Phil in which we had low level seats, and the food options were tremendous.) Once the game started, the atmosphere was amazing. There really is no place better for me to watch sports than at Madison Square Garden. The game ended up being a blowout, and before we knew it, Steve Novak had stolen the show once again. You could feel the excitement from the fans every time Novak touched the ball. It’s exciting that a fan favorite actually has the ability to be a game-changer like Novak and Jeremy Lin have been.
So after a five-game winning streak, Mike Woodson has shown his ability to get this team to play harder than ever before. This season has clearly been a season with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I am still very disappointed in Carmelo Anthony, especially since he has come out and admitted he is now trying harder than he was earlier under Mike D’Antoni. Defense is all about effort, and finally this team is playing with the intensity and urgency they need in a shortened season.
What we have learned is that the Knicks may not need a big-name coach; instead just one that motivates both Carmelo and Stat to put in their best effort. Mike Woodson has put most of his focus on the defense and has decided to let his stars dictate the offense. Of course we will see some tough losses like the recent one against Toronto, but for the most part this team is showing fight in most of their games. There are now some injury concerns, but with the new-found depth, there shouldn’t be a huge problem. Of course I want to see both Jeremy Lin and Amare Stoudemire on the court playing in the regular season, but I would rather see them healthy in the playoffs. Stoudemire should get the rest he needs for his back which sidelined him last year against the Celtics and ultimately removed any chance the Knicks had of winning a playoff game.

All in all, there is no place like Madison Square Garden, and I am glad that I was able to share that experience with a few of my good friends from Texas. There are many things that are overhyped in the Big Apple, but I am glad that watching a game at MSG isn’t one of them. Hopefully the Knicks' play can finally be worthy of a great home like this.

Next Asian America’s Team topic: The New JR Smith

Photos courtesy of Justin Lane/EPA


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