Knicks Versus Jazz - Inside the ESA

As per always, Seth's recap has done a fantastic job covering this game, but I wanted to add this fan post with what I experienced actually going to the game.

First thing I noticed on arriving at ESA (Energy Solutions Arena) is that there must be some pretty focused employee training on being nice to fans of opposing teams. My buddy and I were both decked out in Knicks paraphernalia so it was obvious we weren't there to cheer the home team, but the guy at will call, the ticket takers, the ushers, even the food services people were all super smiley and overly friendly us. Or maybe that just means they spit in our food. I'm hoping it was training.

Next surprise: There were way more Knicks fans at the game than I expected. Now, this is not my first Knicks game at ESA--I have missed the last two years (one for health reasons and the second for financial reasons related to the previous year's health reasons)--but there were way more displaced Knicks fans than I've seen in years past. I even heard a few calls of "KnicksTape!" at the end. Maybe the better record has brought them out of hiding. Those Isaiah years were pretty tough. I don't know why more these Utah Knicks fans aren't on P&T (shame on them), but I wish they'd get with the program so we could do some get togethers to watch games and such.

My friend who was with me is a Knicks fan, but hasn't followed closely for the last few years as he's been busy with a nasty divorce and working two jobs to pay alimony. He was so confused as to why the Knicks kept running the offense through Copeland so much. He said Copeland looked like he was completely out of control every time he got the ball, but then somehow managed to fumble it toward the hoop and it went it a decent amount of times. I had to admit, he does look a little more gangly and uncoordinated in person. Maybe it's the hair flailing wildly?

At one point during the game Thomas, Camby, and Kidd were all on the court at the same time. I turned to my buddy and said, "You know, with Kidd and Camby having birthday's this week, we pretty much have two forty-year-olds and and a thirty-nine-year-old on the court at the same time." To which he replied, "Wow, I wonder if there have ever been three players that old on the court at the same time." To which I replied, "Bluecheese would know." He looked at me like I'd just lost it. Then I contemplated what it would be like to watch a live game sitting next to Bluecheese and I did lose it. My head exploded. I regained consciousness, just in time to see Coach Woodsen berating Cope for losing the ball at the end of the half. Cope held up his hand an looked the other way like, "I know already. Can't you tell I'm pissed."

Strangely enough, I really enjoyed halftime. It was one of the least entertaining half-time shows ever, but the chicken fingers basket I bought was not only surprisingly tasty, it was a surprisingly good value. $7.50 for three giant chicken fingers (they were more like full chicken breasts) and enough seasoned fries for five people. My friend got a beer and a bratwurst and said, "Good thing for you you don't drink. This beer is terrible." Which was not too surprising since even as a non-drinker, I know Utah has a reputation for having terrible alcoholic beverage selection.

When halftime got really good was when the Knicks came back out to warm up for the second half. For some reason, J.R. was out there a good two minutes before the rest of the team. I couldn't decide if that was good or bad. Did he hustle out to try and find his shot after a cold first half? Or did he just get bored with whatever Coach might have been talking about and decide to slip away to shoot?

When the rest of the team came jogging out to warm up, Novak somehow tripped on on nothing but the floor. And not just a little trip. Like he almost went down. I was worried for a minute that he might get injured somehow and we'd be out yet another player. But he quickly recovered in everything but his pride. Then, for the rest of the warm up, other team members tried to make him feel better by repeatedly mocking him. The best was when Novak was obviously telling Kurt what happened (he missed it somehow), then Martin came walking over like he was going to join the conversation, but just before he got to them, he pretended to trip on the floor just like Novak had and then cracked up while slapping him on the back.

Watching Kurt take warm up "jumpers" was hilarious. I swear, he went through all the motions of a jump shot, but somehow managed to not actually leave the floor. It looked like he was trying to jump, but just couldn't quite get the lift to actually make it off the ground.

Also at halftime, I noticed that Kenyon had some sort of big pad on his shin. Maybe it was just the position we were sitting in, but it some how created the illusion (or was it!?) that he was wearing a prosthetic foot. I thought maybe it was just me, so I asked my buddy if he thought K-Mart's leg looked funny and he said, "You mean how he looks like a peg leg?" Are we sure the the Knicks medical staff didn't cut off his leg from the shin down after than "contusion?" Did it look like that on TV?

After halftime, I kept thinking Utah was going to make a run or break out, the crowd so wanted something to cheer for, but to our delight and their chagrin, the Knicks stayed with it. At one point during a timeout in the fourth quarter, they put up a text survey on the jumbo-tron for most amazing play of the game. A small pocket of Knicks fans including us managed to put together a chant for "Smith's Alley Oop!" since it had been the most explosive thing we'd seen all night. Hayward blocking Copeland somehow won the survey, which was lame because it hadn't even been the best of the Jazz's plays. I think Hayward is a fan favorite though because he's white and so is most of Utah. Any time he does anything remotely good, the crowd goes crazy. I remember going to a game a few years back when the Jazz had Korver and it seemed like half the females in the arena had signs asking him to marry them.

The Jazz fans turned out to be be either extremely fickle or very prescient. Many of them started heading for the exits with like 3 minutes left in the game. Sure I understand it was a late game, but parking around the ESA isn't too bad to get out of, and at that point, I was still very nervous about the Knicks winning. If I'd been a Jazz fan I would have been thinking, "We can still win this."

By the time it was all the way over there were only jubilant Knicks fans peppered throughout a sea of empty green chairs. It was glorious. My friend and I were so happy that we somehow walked right passed my car and kept going for three blocks before we realized we'd gone too far. Maybe we were just enjoying all the jaded Jazz fans rolling down their windows to yell, "Knicks suck!" at us.

This fan post turned out longer than I anticipated, and I'm way over my lunch break, so I better get back to work, but it was amazing and I wanted to share a little of the joy. Go Knicks!

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