NEW YORK, NY – I am writing this Tuesday afternoon because I won’t be home this evening and I don’t want Short Matt to have to fill-in to write yet another column. Really, NO ONE wants that. Anyway, this evening I’m headed to Madison Square Garden to see the Rangers take on the Bruins (a Rangers shootout win with goalie drama) with two former MTM contributors (and HUGE Bruins fans) Grote2DMax and Cheesy Bruin. It’s been ages since I last stepped foot in the Garden, so long I can’t even recall. Maybe 9-10 years ago? I guess this type of thing can happen when you get married and start a family. Weird. Still, prior to my exile, had a lot of good/weird times at MSG. Here are a few.
Knicks Games. As a kid growing up in the Bronx in the late-70s/early-80s, my friends and I got to see our fair share of Knicks games. Back then the Knicks were atrocious, and tickets were easy to come by… cheap too. So, if you didn’t mind watching Marvin “The Human Eraser” Webster lumber up and down the floor, as well as guys like Ernie Grunfeld, Campy Russell, and Louis Orr—to name a few—you were always in for an entertaining night. To paint a more clear picture, it was the sports equivalent of going to a lousy movie on Fordham Road with your friends just so you could all make fun of it for all to hear.
ZZ Top. The first concert I ever saw at Madison Square Garden, and really my first concert ever, if you discount Jazz shows my Dad took me to (which you really shouldn’t), was ZZ Top on their Eliminator Tour. This was just as the Texas blues/funk trio of Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard were becoming Top 40 darlings with their chicks and cars “Sharp Dressed Man”/”Gimme All Your Lovin” Friday Night Videos formula. The majority of their fans at the show that night were long-timers, dressed in filthy denim everything. The one memory that really stuck from that show was the opening act, something of a pretty boy light hair metal act, getting mercilessly booed into submission. Poor Bon Jovi. Clearly, he recovered.
Fights. I cannot recommend boxing at MSG enough. Too bad boxing’s pretty much dead. It was a hell of a lot of fun and felt like what the Garden was really made for. Among the bouts I saw there was Felix Trinidad beating William Joppy for the Middleweight title way back in May of 2001. I saw a Yankees game that afternoon, saw the fight that night, and met my future wife in the Molly Wee Pub later that evening. Pretty solid day, actually.
Bugs Bunny at the Felt Forum. I never had the pleasure of seeing any of these atrocities, but I still feel this would be the perfect gig for Short Matt. He’d be particularly good in Bugs Bunny in Outer Space, which is where most of us would like to send him.
NCAA Preseason NIT. For years, a bunch of my old college friends and I had a great Thanksgiving Eve tradition of going to the Garden for the NCAA Preseason NIT basketball tournament. It was there where we got to see some great hoops teams from around the country and become indelibly known to all their fans. We were, to be kind, an absolute nuisance. Sitting 10 rows or so behind one of the backboards, we never stopped drinking and never shut up. Me today would want to kill me back then. Not surprisingly at all (in retrospect) one year we all turned on each other. It was ugly (hilariously so), but it had to happen. And just like that, a tradition that had overstayed its welcome was put out of its misery once and for all.
Speaking of which, time to put this one to bed and go see a hockey game. Come back tomorrow for Buddy Diaz, your next coach of the New York Knicks.