As a life long New York Knicks fan, it’s pretty saddening I have yet to go to a Knicks game. Tickets are just so frustratingly high, and with the way the team has been most of my life (pretty terrible), they were never really worth the price.
Well, technically I have been to a Knicks game. It was at the IZOD center though, as a New Jersey Nets home game. In fourth grade each class was given three pairs of tickets to give out, and luckily only four people in my class entered so I won. But a home Knicks game?
Insert the Westchester Knicks.
I’m lucky enough to live only about 25 minutes away from the Westchester County Center, which is where the Dub-Knicks play. I was actually supposed to go to a game about three weeks ago, but mother nature decided to ruin that and bring down a few inches of snow, so I couldn’t go to that game.
That happened to be around the time Stoudemire was bought out, and the rumors were flying of Bargnani being bought out. They had an open roster spot, and I was worried they’d call up Thanasis Antetokounmpo. I desperately wanted to see him play live before he made his New York Knicks debut, and the Twitter beat writers were reporting it was a possibility he would be called up this season.
Luckily for me though, he would still be on the roster for yesterday’s game as I took to trip across the Tappanzee bridge to watch the Westchester Knicks take on the Delaware 87ers.
The basketball court is like a high school gym. Not much seating, but if anything that works in your favor as almost every seat is a great one.
Ten dollars for these seats is amazing. At Madison Square Garden they’ll gouge you for every penny if you want to sit in similar seats, costing up to a thousand dollars per ticket for marquee match ups. Obviously, the D-League isn’t NBA level so the tickets should be much cheaper than the NBA, but the Knicks aren’t exactly NBA level either.
The only downside was this annoying parks advertisement that completely blocked the other basket, but for $10 I shouldn’t be complaining.
The start of this game was one of the most up and down games I’ve ever experienced. It stated off with a 7-0 87ers lead, before Westchester battled back to eventually tie it at 21. Delaware then went on a 16-2 run at the end of the first and extending start of the second quarter to give them a 37-23 advantage, before Westchester answered with a 14-6 run of their own to come close with a 43-37 game. The game would go to the half with the score at 51-42.
Halftime was definitely entertaining though. A larger man in a Carmelo Anthony 2012 All Star jersey decided to dance to “Turn Down for What” for about 10 minutes. I unfortunately didn’t get a picture, but I’m sure you can imagine.
That’s when everything began to go down the drain for Westchester. Much like their big brothers in Manhattan, they play absolutely no defense. Former NBA player Maalik Wayns consistently cut right through the Knicks porous defense, and then either getting hacked or finishing for a layup. He put up 21 points on 7-9 shooting on two point attempts, as well as knocking down 7-8 free throws.
Delaware converted 20-25 free throws, and Westchester had multiple players in foul trouble. Doron Lamb and Ben Strong had 4 fouls each, and Thanasis Antetokounmpo had 5.
Now seeing Antetokounmpo was the main reason I was so motivated to go. I’m a big fan of his brother Giannis, and was ecstatic when the Knicks drafted Thanasis in the draft this past June.
He still was a bit raw, and based on his performance last night, not yet ready for the big leagues. He shot 4-9 (0-3 from three point range), had 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 5 turnovers, 1 steal, and 3 assists. He still has to work on limiting his fouls, and working on his shot. Really that’s something the entire Westchester squad should work on. They shot 43% overall compared to Delaware’s 49%, and 26% from deep compared to a 36% mark from the opposition.
One of the more interesting things was the coaches challenge. Coaches have one challenge per game, and if they get the first one correct, they receive a second. Westchester’s first challenge came on a play right before that picture was taken. Antetokounmpo came flying in for an incredible block, that clearly was all ball.
The referees, to the dismay of the home crowd, called it a shooting foul. Westchester almost immediately challenged, and the call was overturned. Despite this being a meaningless D-League game (both these teams are terrible, much like their NBA affiliate) the crowd was definitely rowdy. The group of fans in front of us would scream whenever the opposing players were shooting free throws, and heckle the refs for poor calls. It definitely made the experience that much better.
A bit of a scare came in the first half though when it appeared Antetokounmpo had injured himself. On a fast break, he went up for a high flying dunk before he was smacked to the ground, missing the dunk. He would lay their for a minute or so, as the crowd held their breath. He eventually got up, and missed both free throws before being taken off shortly after. He then returned to start the third quarter, but was quickly yanked out again. He really looked hurt.
It seemed like a flagrant foul, and after a review it the refs decided it to be a common foul. Boos rained down from the crowd, as it really looked flagrant.
Antetokounmpo also has to work on his free throws. He only converted 1-5 in this game. With that free throw though, right after the miss Darnell Jackson grabbed the board for a put back slam.
Jackson was the star of the game for Westchester, scoring 16 points, grabbing 6 rebounds, and dishing out 4 assists. Durrell Summers also was great, scoring 19 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 2 assists. Summers shot 7-14, while Jackson shot 7-13. Ben Strong had a double-double with 13 rebounds and 13 points.
Around this point I began to officially zone out a bit. Delaware was on a scoring barrage, putting up 39 points in the third quarter and 11 in just the first three minutes of the fourth.
Something that was fun to see was the whole crowd begun to chant “No! No! No!” as Thanasis Antetokounmpo was subbed off the court with about nine minutes left. Maybe the chants actually worked, as with about 4 minutes left he was subbed back in during garbage time.
Ultimately, Westchester fell 120-105. They won the rebounding battle 62-49, but that didn’t matter as Delaware made it look easy to score on Westchester’s lack of defense. It was a very sloppy game, with the two teams combining for 39 turnovers and 50 fouls.
Overall, it was a great experience. I would recommend it to anyone, due to the fact it’s so cheap and definitely worth the price.