The famed Douglas Elliman Celebrity Row at Madison Square Garden, home to the New York Knicks, is one of the most coveted tickets to come by in New York City. The average passionate New York Knicks fan dreams of rubbing elbows with New York’s finest such as director Spike Lee, tennis legend John McEnroe, or Saturday Night Live’s Leslie Jones, to name a few. But a convenient 40-minute drive or MetroNorth train ride to central Westchester turns that dream into a reality courtesy of the New York Knicks’ official NBA Development League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks.
James Greenberg, a Wall Street veteran and long-term season ticket member of the New York Knicks, and the Westchester Knicks, cashed in on this opportunity during a recent February Sunday evening matchup at the Westchester County Center. He sponsored the Manhattan-based Browning School’s Junior Panthers, a youth basketball team that he coaches, and their parents; purchasing approximately 60 courtside tickets for the group. Greenberg, who attends 70 percent of #DubKnicks games, visited his first Westchester Knicks game as a guest, and instantly became a fan. “Once you come here, you’re going to want to come back,” he urges those who are curious about what Westchester basketball offers.
Ask ten different fans why they love the Westchester Knicks game experience, and you’ll likely receive ten different responses touting the rich in-game experience. From t-shirt tosses to Westchester Knicks Dancers, and of course, the team’s loveable mascot Hudson. But without a doubt, fans commonly rave about the game’s affordability. And season ticket members like Greenberg can’t get enough of the premium benefits that come along with being associated with the Madison Square Garden family. Above all, however, fans return for the cozy intimacy, yet exceedingly energetic venue, which holds approximately 2,100 fans. “I find that the venue is great because almost any seat in the house gets you close to the Westchester Knicks game.” So close that the family-friendly environment invites fans, specifically youth, to interact with players, or even a chance to shoot their shot on the Knicks branded basketball court that was modeled after the floor at The World’s Most Famous Arena.
Greenberg’s son and Browning student/Junior Panther Eli, 11, excitedly spoke about stepping on the court, participating in the foul-shot contest, and playing like a pro as he and his teammates provided on-lookers with halftime entertainment. “I feel like I want to do it again. It was really fun to see what the players feel when they drive or when they shoot or they pass.”
Eli’s friend and teammate Rohan Mahra, 12, had a different, but equally impactful experience due to his proximity to the players. “Because you’re so close to them, you can watch their movements. How they pass; how they cut. You can honestly get better by watching and then try to play how they play. You can follow in their footsteps.”
But the major highlight for Westchester fans? Not knowing who will show up to a game on any given night. After all, that’s the business of the D-League. And on this given night, the fans received a special treat. They cheered along three New York Knicks players who suited up for Westchester – center Marshall Plumlee, forward Maurice Ndour, and guard Ron Baker. Not to mention, New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek and forward/center Kyle O’Quinn were in attendance along with New York Knicks legend and Westchester Knicks general manager Allan Houston. While players take advantage of the opportunity to sharpen their game and confidence logging minutes for the #DubKnicks, it’s the fans who truly benefit from the synergistic relationship between the two Knicks organizations. Eli, who dreams of playing basketball when he’s older, appreciates Development League players for their determination and achievements. “They’ve worked really hard in their lives to accomplish and get to the D-League and even the NBA.”
And Eli’s father, James? Well, he values the Westchester Knicks for allowing him to rediscover his youthfulness. Though the boys missed their opportunity to grab a photo with present or past players, Greenberg, 47, walked away with a souvenir – a photo with O’Quinn, his second- favorite NBA player behind the Houston Rockets MVP candidate James Harden. When asked if he too made it a night to remember, he eagerly replied, “Yes, I’m a kid at heart. What can I say?”