Big night at the Garden Thursday. I spoke to Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Steve Kerr, Marv Albert, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and LeBron James.
Also, I briefly stood next to Kanye West and the Knicks City Dancers. Not necessarily in that order.
Here is a column I wrote about TNT's first game at the Garden in five years and eight days.
Overall, a wild, wacky night that helped me get over missing Rex Ryan and Co. Hahn captures the nuttiness here.
As for my exclusive encounter with LeBron James: It was during one of those bizarre, only-in-sportswriting moments during which about 20 reporters had finished interviewing James, then had to stand around staring into space for 15 minutes waiting for Dwyane Wade to show up.
All this while James slooowly dressed at his locker in the commically small, old-school visiting dressing room at MSG.
Finally I ambled over to Mr. James and asked him whether the Garden's visiting locker room is the smallest in the league.
He told me it is not - that the Pistons' is much smaller.
Then I said, "At least there are fewer reporters there."
LeBron said, "Not when we're in town."
The main purpose of all this was to impress the WatchDog pups, of course. Didn't work. They are not big sports fans.
Then I mentioned I briefly stood next to Kanye. Bingo!
Here are a couple of other items from my Friday newspaper page that I can't find on the website:
Marv enjoying Knicks revival:
It has been nearly seven years since Marv Albert and MSG parted ways, but he still often is mistaken as the voice of the Knicks.
“We were in L.A. doing a Lakers game and Denzel Washington comes by and says, ‘How ‘bout your Knicks?’’’ Albert said before calling the Heat-Knicks game for TNT. “I didn’t correct him.’’
Albert, who now works a limited schedule of Nets games for YES, had not called at game at the Garden this season before last night, but as a New Yorker he is aware of the renewed interest in the team.
He said he is happy to see it. “The buzz is definitely back,’’ he said. “It’s great for the league. It’s great for [TNT] . . . I think they’re a very likeable team, also.’’
What is it like for Albert to work at the Garden these days? Weird? Nostalgic?
“It’s probably a combination of A and B,’’ he said. “I still have a lot of friends here who work at MSG Network or with the team. It’s still a special place to do a game. I love it.’’
Kerr wishes Stoudemire well:
Before he was a TNT analyst, Steve Kerr was general manager of the Suns during the time they were determining Amar’e Stoudemire was not worth the risk of a long term mega-contract.
The problem was not that he isn’t a good guy or good player. The concern was his surgically repaired knee might not hold up over time.
“We wanted him back, but could we afford to have him on our books if he’s struggling in two or three years?’’ Kerr said. “We had our doctors assess what they thought would happen, but nobody has a crystal ball.’’
Kerr said the Knicks had more financial means to take a risk, and more motivation to do so.
So far, so good. Kerr said he is not surprised Stoudemire has thrived.
“I don’t think you’ll see people in Phoenix wanting Amar’e to be ineffective to justify the decision,’’ he said. “I want him to win a title, be in the Hall of Fame and achieve everything he wants to achieve.’’