I was taken to Madison Square Garden last night to see my first basketball game. This was no ordinary basketball game mind, this was a New York Knicks game.
We had some cheap seats at the top of the arena, affording us the opportunity to leave part way through without feeling that we'd wasted $15. The view was actually pretty reasonable from up there.
What I noticed first was that people were pretty laissez faire about turning up on time. There were spectators dribbling in throughout the game. We ourselves turned up part way through the first period, having prioritised a quick margarita a few blocks away. In the UK I think most people are in place for the start of the game they've gone to watch. And they stay determinedly focused on the game throughout.
Not quite so at the basketball.
The action was noticeably stop-start. Fouls, timeouts, TV timeouts, advertising opportunities and general attention deficit made the whole experience a little bewildering. The noise was constant, from the music system playing riffs and jingles, to the clattering and cat calling from the crowd. Something of a sensory overload.
It perhaps speaks to my general apathy for sport that I found the half time entertainment the most enjoyable part of the experience. There were the Irish dancers (bidding an early welcome to St Patrick's Day), the Knicks City Dancers (an energetic, spangly-dressed crew who flick-flacked around the court and launched T-shirts into the crowd from slingshots), and a professional "Simon Says" caller, who proceeded to work his way through a crowd of about 50 children to finally crown a winner. No, really.
We sloped off part way through the third quarter to scarf down some cheap Korean food in a local 24 hour restaurant. Not bad for a Friday in mid March.