Through and through, I am a creature of habit. My planner is the most important purchase of the year and I thrive off my Sunday night organization session where I outline my upcoming week in multi-colored pens. I have certain habits for grocery shopping and laundry and when I like to study foreign languages.
These routines, much like running and writing, keep me grounded and focused. But at some point, routines can become too much. It isn’t until you’ve stepped outside of yourself for a day or a week that you notice how much you’ve missed. You know that feeling of taking a long weekend trip? Suddenly, Saturday seems to last forever as you forget about buying bananas and bread and focus on enjoying wherever you are.
All this is to say that while I appreciate some of the structures I’ve given my life, I can’t help but wonder what’s just outside the box. The new idea for Sunday blog posts is to write about one experience I had in the previous week that was out of routine, that wasn’t predictable, that made me think a little differently about myself and the world I live in.
Challenge 5: Basketball
Growing up outside of Pittsburgh (and with two older brothers) meant I had to love sports – or at least come to an understanding that ESPN was the default channel. Growing up outside of Pittsburgh meant black and gold everything, Terrible Towels, winter jackets with the Penguins logo on the back, and loyal Pirates ball caps.
Growing up outside of Pittsburgh meant one other thing – no professional basketball. I remember filling out March Madness brackets for college basketball, but I think I spent much of elementary school not realizing professional basketball was even a thing. I liked college basketball but since Pittsburgh didn’t have a professional team, I think I assumed it didn’t exist.
Obviously, that was an oversight. Still, basketball was a professional sport that I never followed. To this day, while I understand the rules of basketball, I’d be hard pressed to tell you about many of the teams or coaches or big moments in the sport’s history.
Nevertheless, I found myself buying Knicks tickets for my brother and I – the Subway rivalry. On Tuesday, January 30th, we went to Madison Square Garden to see the New York Knicks play the Brooklyn Nets.
First, due to an oversight on my part, we arrived about 45 minutes early, which gave us plenty of time to settle into our seats, watch elementary school kids dribble around the court, and comment on the floating cameras.
One of the first things that struck me about the game is how the front row people are literally on the court. Most of these people, I realized, were celebrities. Throughout the game they would play a clip from a movie or sporting event and then cut to the waving actor or football player, sitting on chairs practically on the court.
The game was fast-paced. Each quarter seemed to fly by quicker than the last. By the end of the game (having been there early enough to see all the player’s bios), I felt like I knew most of the Knicks team. The Knicks won the game 111 – 95.
Having never been to a professional basketball game, I had no idea what to expect. The energy of Madison Square Garden did not disappoint. At one point, they brought out t-shirt guns and sling shots. The crowd cheered and some people closer to the court stood up. Then there was a brief pause as members of the dance team rolled out t-shirt cannons. (Picture something like this). The stadium lost its mind. People jumped up and were yelling and cheering. We didn’t get a t-shirt but I will remember that moment for a long time.
To say I had fun is an understatement. From the game to the atmosphere to the music and to everything in between, the NBA put on a remarkable evening. Next stop? Barclays Center to see the Nets in their home stadium.