Almost exactly a month to the day from the last time I saw the Grizzlies play in Philly, I made the trip up to New York City this past Wednesday January 14 to see my Memphis Grizzlies defeat the Brooklyn Nets 103-92. This was to be my first time in Brooklyn and my first time in New York City in 10 years.
But this trip almost didn’t happen. Snow was in the forecast, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it up to New York City. And my dogs were to be left alone outside all day (even though they have their beds in the garage). I was apprehensive – fear of the unknown I guess. I had never taken the MegaBus and didn’t know exactly where it departed in White Marsh or New York City. Also I was a little scared on how to get to Brooklyn and back, especially back at 11pm at night. For all of these reasons I almost cancelled my trip because it would just be easier to stay home, but I persevered and had one of the best days I’ve had in a long time! Don’t ever let fear stop you from doing something. I knew this, I just had to be reminded of it.
I easily found the MegaBus stop at the White Marsh Park and Ride, and to my surprise it was actually on time. I didn’t know what to expect for $5. Yes, it is only $5 for the bus from Baltimore to New York – what a deal! It was very crowded – not an empty seat on the double decker bus. I had a reserved seat (splurged $3 extra) at the table, but the table was very narrow and I was knee to knee with the guy facing me. The three hours went by quickly as I watched several episodes of The Big Bang Theory. We arrived on time in New York City just a few blocks from Madison Square Garden, so I sort of knew where I was and how to get to Times Square where I was meeting my friend Tarik.
By the time I walked the 10 plus blocks to Times Square, I had warmed up a bit. It was around 30 degrees and overcast – and a bit breezy. We walked around Times Square – literally made a loop. I hadn’t been there in 10 years, so I was just walking around looking up with my mouth open gawking like a tourist. I couldn’t leave Manhattan without some authentic New York style pizza – my favorite! So we ducked into this little place for a slice. It was SO yummy – and the first real food I had all day.
We wanted to get over to Brooklyn before rush hour, so we got on the subway. I got to see the Brooklyn Bridge while on the train. We got off the subway, walked outside, and I immediately heard the theme song to Welcome Back Kotter playing in my head. “Welcome back, Your dreams were your ticket out. Welcome back, To that same old place that you laughed about. Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.” We walked completely around the Barclays Center (where the Grizzlies – Nets games was to be in 4 hours). We didn’t see many bars or restaurants – they were probably on the side streets, but we just wanted to go inside somewhere warm and sit down and relax. We went to Tony Roma’s, across from Barclays, and had a great time – and great food. For about two hours, we sat at a table in the bar overlooking the street. We had unbelievable cheeseburgers, fries, wine and beer. It was a good way to pre-game.
We went into Barclays at 6pm when the doors opened – tip off was at 7:30. A lot of people were already inside, so maybe the doors opened a few minutes early. Our seats were where they always are when I go to an away Grizzlies game – front row between the Grizzlies bench and the tunnel. Although this time it was a little different. We were REALLY close to the Grizzlies bench – closer than I’ve been in Philly or DC. Apparently I was on tv the entire game. But we weren’t next to the tunnel – that was a section over. I didn’t talk to any of the players this time, but Gasol and ZBo gave us the nod – as I screamed their names. Apparently our tickets came with free food – even a free buffet, but we had just eaten so we didn’t take advantage of it. I did get free iced tea from the concessions, but no big cups. Barclays Center does not have large drink cups – no souvenir cup. The drinks come in 12 oz cups. Supposedly because of the law NYC passed trying for less sugar drinks. I found it annoying and I blame my dehydration the next day on it (couldn’t have been the bottle of wine I drank at dinner.) There were quite a few Grizzlies fans in Brooklyn Wednesday night. And the Nets fans were great! They couldn’t have been nicer. They didn’t yell at us, make fun of us or boo us they like do in Philly and DC.
It was a great game! The Grizzlies won 103-92. It was Jeff Green’s first game with Memphis – just coming over from the Celtics in the trade for Tayshaun Prince. Green had 10 points in his debut. Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 20 points. Marc Gasol and Courtney Lee each had 18 points, and Tony Allen had 13 points.
Luckily there was no overtime, so I was on the subway at 10:15 headed to Penn Station. Tarik and I parted ways, and this is where it got a little scary. Luckily the subway wasn’t crowded, and I kept asking people if I was on the right train going the right way, and I was. Then I arrived at Penn Station and had to figure out where my bus stop was. I exited Penn Station at 8th Avenue and 34th Street, and the MegaBus stop was on 34th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues. I thought great only three blocks. Wrong! There were streets in between the avenues, making it at least a six block walk in the freezing cold, in the wind, in the dark – by myself! It was mostly fine as there were other people walking around and stores, but then there were no more people and no more stores. I got to this industrial part and thought for sure this is where I was going to die. It was at that moment where I saw the MegaBus stop and people standing in line. It was 11pm and our bus didn’t leave until 12:15am. We had a long, cold wait outside, but at least we were together. The bus was on time and not as crowded as the ride down. In fact, I got two seats to myself so I could spread out – and nap. Unfortunately for this trip, we had a 45-minute stop in Philadelphia, so I didn’t get home until 5am. My dogs were fine and were actually warm from sleeping in their beds in the garage. I was exhausted, but it was completely worth it. I had the best day in big apple!
I am looking forward to going back to New York City next month for the NBA All Star Practice at Madison Square Garden on Febuary 14 and again in March for the Grizzlies – Knicks game. Before Wednesday it had been 10 years since I had been in New York City, and now I am there three times in three months and then again for 10 days in July to see 6 U2 shows at Madison Square Garden on the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour. (By the way I was across the bridge in Jersey at Met Life Stadium twice this past year, but the last time I was actually in New York City was in May of 2005 for the U2 Vertigo show at Madison Square Garden and the Lisa Marie Presley appearance on Good Morning America and her free concert at City Hall Park.)
For all 75 pictures of my day in NYC, please click here.