Get vaccinated or you can’t watch the second round of the NBA playoffs at The Garden.
That’s the clear message of the New York Knicks to their fans on Friday after Game 5 tickets were again sold out.
Tickets to the Knicks’ first playoffs in eight years have surged dramatically since New York allowed large crowd to attend indoor games.
The team’s final 22 regular-season home games were capped at 1,980 before it was increased to 15,000 for Game 1 of the playoffs.
The Knicks have split their first two home games, which drew the largest indoor crowds in New York since the pandemic.
Game 1 saw a sold-out 15,000 crowd rocking The Garden, and the Knicks decided to increase the vaccinated sections in Game 2 that attracted 16,254 fans. They are leaning towards filling up The Garden with its total capacity of 19,040 for the second-round home games should they advance past the Atlanta Hawks in their ongoing first-round series.
Games 3 and 4 will be played Friday and Sunday in Atlanta.
“The energy our Knicks fans have brought to the playoffs has been incredible — proving there’s nothing more exciting than Knicks basketball at The Garden. It’s moments like this that shows us what’s possible if everyone gets vaccinated — we’ll all be able to get back to doing what we love — and that definitely includes being together to cheer on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden,” said David Hopkinson, EVP, MSG Sports and President, Team Business Operations, said in a statement.
Fully vaccinated fans comprised 90 percent of the crowd that attended the first two games. Meanwhile, the remaining 10 percent were the socially distanced fans in the unvaccinated section where masks and negative antigen or PCR COVID-19 test were also required.
A New York Knicks fan has been banned indefinitely from watching at the Madison Square Garden after he was caught on TV spitting on Atlanta Hawks’ star Trae Young.
The Knicks apologized to Young and the Hawks organization for the unfortunate incident that transpired with 8:34 left in Game 2 on Wednesday night.
“We investigated the matter and determined that this patron, who is not a season ticket holder, did indeed spit on Trae Young, and for that reason, he is now banned from The Garden indefinitely. We apologize to Trae and the entire Atlanta Hawks organization for this fan’s behavior. This was completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our venue. We have turned the information over to the appropriate authorities,” the team said in a statement released on Thursday.
Young’s father went to Twitter to call the attention of the league and the Knicks on the incident.
It was the second incident on Wednesday night involving a fan attacking a player. A Philadelphia 76ers fan was also banned indefinitely for throwing popcorn on Russell Westbrook while he was on his way to the locker room.
The NBA immediately released a statement on Thursday to address the two separate incidents.
“The return of more NBA fans to our arenas has brought great excitement and energy to the start of the playoffs, but it is critical that we all show respect for players, officials, and our fellow fans. An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved,” the league said in a statement.
The NBA Fan Code of Conduct is as follows:
Players and fans respect and appreciate each other.
Guests will be treated in a professional and courteous manner by all arena and team personnel.
Guests will enjoy the basketball experience free from disruptive behavior, including foul or abusive language and obscene gestures.
Guests will consume alcoholic beverages in a responsible manner. Intervention with an impaired, intoxicated, or underage guest will be handled in a prompt and safe manner.
Guests will sit only in their ticketed seats and show their tickets when requested.
Guests who engage in fighting, throwing objects, or attempting to enter the court will be immediately ejected from the arena.
Guests will smoke in designated smoking areas only.
Obscene or indecent messages on signs or clothing will not be permitted.
Guests will comply with requests from arena staff regarding arena operations and emergency response procedures.
Guests will comply with all COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
List of prohibited items at NBA arenas can be found here.
Just when everything was bleak, in a blink of an eye, the Knicks sprung back to life. And The Garden was Eden once again. A basketball paradise with New York’s long-suffering fans taking a bite on the taste of success.
The Madison Square Garden was rocked to its core after the Knicks pulled off a magical 101-92 comeback win in Game 2 to even the series against the Atlanta Hawks.
New York fans filled the streets around The Garden to celebrate the first Knicks playoff victory in eight years — exactly 2,932 days — or since May 16, 2013, when they beat the Pacers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
A 15,000 home crowd is expected to rock the Madison Square Garden as the Knicks begin their playoff quest.
Game 1 of their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks is scheduled on Sunday, with Game 2 on Wednesday. Both games have been sold out, the Knicks announced on Thursday.
The Knicks’ return to the playoffs is being trumpeted as the largest indoor event in New York since the pandemic. It will be the largest Knicks crowd or perhaps the whole NBA this season. Only 1,981 fans or 10 percent of The Garden’s seating capacity have been allowed to watch every Knicks home game since February.
“I hope everyone in sports and entertainment is listening because the public has spoken — they are fine with getting vaccinated and want to get back to the experiences they love,” Dolan said in the statement. “This overwhelming response by Knicks fans — almost 90% of whom are vaccinated — should silence any doubters. It’s time to start booking events and filling up our schedules, so stay tuned. We want to thank Governor Cuomo for this leap forward; he knew we could do this — not just for us, but for New York.”
Knicks president Leon Rose also took his time to thank the fans on a social media post by the team.
“We can’t thank our fans enough for stepping up, getting vaccinated, and being with us all the way – we look forward to the team giving all of New York something to cheer about.” — Knicks President Leon Rose https://t.co/4tGkfvUEwT
It’s the hottest show in town as tickets were sold out in less than an hour during its public release last Wednesday. Season ticket holders and depositors had the first access to the tickets last Tuesday.
The resounding Knicks box-office success drowns their city rival Brooklyn Nets’ struggle to fill the Barclays Center even in a limited capacity. They have yet to sell out both of their home games against the Boston Celtics despite having superstars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden. The Nets announced on Thursday that they are offering a 50 percent discount on a number of tickets in their vaccinated section.
New York Knicks basketball remains the hottest show in town despite the emergence of the Brooklyn Nets as a legitimate title contender this season.
The Knicks have become the league’s Cinderella story this season, defying the Vegas odds (22.5 wins) to advance to the playoffs for the first time in eight years. And not only did they break the long playoff drought, but the Knicks have also clinched a homecourt advantage in the first round with the fourth seed.
They will host the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 on Sunday in what is expected to be a loud and relatively packed Madison Square Garden.
Tickets to the Knicks’ much-awaited playoff return have yet to be released to the general public, but their prices have astronomically gone up in the secondary market.
Stub Hub has Game 1 tickets being resold for as low as $356 in the nosebleed section to as high as $31,500 in the VIP courtside row. Meanwhile, tickets to the Nets’ Game 1 are listed for as low $162 to as high as $2,761 in the middle section of the Barclays Center. No VIP seats and suites were posted as of press time.
At TickPick, Knicks’ tickets are priced from as low as $513 to as high as $7,475 at the courtside section behind the VIP row. The Nets’ game tickets go for as low as $178 to as high as $40,250 in the lower level suite.
Season ticket holders got the first access to the tickets on Tuesday. Deposit holders are next in the pecking order, and whatever is left will be open to the public beginning Wednesday, according to a MSG source.
Team governor James Dolan said the Knicks are eyeing to have more than 50 percent of the Madison Square Garden’s seating capacity for the playoffs. Dolan made the announcement during New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s press briefing on Monday.
“I know it’s been a long time. Believe me, I know it’s been a long time. People tell me every day. But we’re back. We’re in the playoffs,” Dolan said.
“For Knicks home playoff games, we’re shooting to have more than 13,000 fans at the Garden. The majority of whom will be sitting in vaccinated sections shoulder-to-shoulder.”
Fans in the vaccinated section will not be required to wear their mask.
Unvaccinated fans will have to wear a mask and be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test.
Dolan urged fans to get their COVID-19 vaccines to ramp up their return, especially if the Knicks advance past the Hawks.
“Go today and get your vaccination so that when these shows come, when the Knicks make it to the second round — Oh, I hope — you can come, and we’ll have a seat for you,” Dolan beamed with excitement.
“Any of you who know about basketball know about the concept of the 6th man and the homecourt. We’ve been missing our 6th man, and we’ve done as well we’ve done without our 6th man. But we’re getting our 6th man back for the playoffs, so we’re going to be even better,” Dolan added.
Only 1,981 fans have been allowed to every Knicks’ home game since February.
Dolan was appreciative of the Knicks fans he credited for helping the team’s major turnaround this season.
The enigmatic Knicks governor, who had his shares of a public spat with fans in the past, has made himself scarce until Monday. To his credit, he has done a remarkable job staying out of trouble. His recent moves — hiring Leon Rose and signing off Tom Thibodeau as head coach — have been lauded around the league and dramatically changed the Knicks’ narrative. Rose and Thibodeau have established a culture that could attract stars soon.
“Our fans have been extremely loyal and have helped drive the team’s success,” Dolan said.
Many Knicks’ fans have remained loyal despite the string of bad luck in the last seven years. Those who stayed are now reaping their rewards.
According to a recent survey, the Knicks have lost 15.6 percent of their fans during the pandemic. But the fan fallout is ranked among the lowest around the league.
Only Chicago and Detroit fans have ranked ahead of New York fans. Unfortunately, both the Bulls and Pistons fanbases have endured another losing season.
The survey conducted by TickPick last March also had the Memphis Grizzlies turning off 36.1 percent of their fans, the most in the league.
With the NBA and all other sports shutting down last year, the study also found out that 82 percent of people felt lost without sports in their lives. Only 20 percent or just 1 in 5 fans have lost interest in sports amid the pandemic.
Most of the Knicks fans, though, never wavered and kept their faith. And with the team’s resurgence, it’s just a matter of time before those 15.6 percent will come back to the fold if that hasn’t started yet.
The Knicks (33-27) just extended the league’s hottest streak to eight wins. More importantly, they snatched the fourth seed from the Hawks (32-27).
This is the first time the Knicks are in the top four late in the season since the 54-win Knicks team led by Carmelo Anthony grabbed the second seed in the East during the 2012-13 season. It was the last time the Knicks were in the playoffs.
“You take everything step-by-step. There’s a lot of physical teams in the league, and there’s a lot of talented teams,” Tom Thibodeau said after the gut-wrenching win. “So I think as you head down the stretch here, you want to be playing your best. We try to challenge all our players mentally every day so you’re building the right habits.”
This Knicks team is peaking at the right time.
With 12 games left in their schedule, the Knicks are inching closer to ending a seven-year playoff drought.
Six home games sandwiched by a tough six road games, including against four title contenders in the West (Denver, Phoenix, and the two Los Angeles teams), are still on the horizon. But these Knicks have already overachieved beyond their fans’ wildest dreams.
Las Vegas oddsmakers and most basketball experts have put a 22.5-win ceiling on this Knicks team made up of last year’s core that only won 21 games.
They didn’t add any big names. Only place holder players on one-year deals.
Their biggest acquisition came at the sidelines.
Playoff-tested coach Tom Thibodeau came on board and laid out a foundation built on accountability. Instantly, the Knicks had credibility.
Randle morphed from a tunnel vision scorer and turnover machine into an All-Star and the frontrunner to win the Most Improved Player award.
RJ Barrett used the All-Rookie Team snub and criticisms of his lack of perimeter and outside shot as a motivation. His transformation to a dead-eye shooter and his ascendance as Randle’s running mate has been a revelation.
Derrick Rose is turning back the clock lately. Immanuel Quickley continues to prove he’s the steal of the Draft.
Thibodeau is squeezing everything he can get from Reggie Bullock, Nerlens Noel, Taj Gibson, Alec Burks, and Elfrid Payton. All of them have put their bodies on the line and played their hearts out even without the security of a long-term contract.
“We have a true team. They all play for each other,” Thibodeau said.
It’s been a joy to watch on the court. Even the seldom-used players are animatedly cheering whoever who’s on the floor, running to pick up when a teammate goes down.
When team president Leon Rose handpicked Thibodeau, it signaled the Knicks pivot from desperately hoping for the luck of the lottery draw to charting their own destiny.
But the Knicks are ahead of their schedule.
Instead of tanking, here they are celebrating, thanking Thibodeau for doing an incredible job worthy of Coach of the Year recognition.
“He better be in the running. We all believe in Thibs,” Barrett said. “He’s been doing just a tremendous job in just the way he’s turned everything around, the way he has us playing hard every single night, and we’re getting wins. From him to the whole staff, night-in, and night-out, every day, working hard, just pushing and pushing. It’s just a great feeling. I’m sure the fans see how hard we’re working.”
Yes, they are. The fans are loving every moment of it.