The Best Was Saved For Last

10days

*** Anmerkung: Diese … naja es ist eher eine Erzählung … habe ich aufgrund des Wunsches einer einzelnen Person in englisch verfasst. Ihr werdet jedoch eh nichts verpassen, solltet ihr auf englisch keinen Bock haben. Ist ja alles auch eine kleine Weile her. 🙂 ***

Is it wise, trying to finish a story, that I started 2 weeks ago? I don’t know. But this story was the most important thing to me as I boarded the plane back home. Not because I wanted to be quick with some game recap or review. It wasn’t for the pictures or short videos. It was (and still is) important to me because of some very defining and precious moments I needed to write down.
It has been actually a flurry of moments that made my 10 days in New York and Philadelphia an unforgettable experience. In hindsight, I want to kick myself in the junk for hesitating with my decision to go at first.

And as always – it was the unforeseeable, a constant like Dirk Nowitzki, breaking through and scoring on you sooner or later … but happening for sure. Coincidently, I had a conversation about the unforeseeable … with a woman (*true story*) that I did not know well at this time, walking through a city (Philly) I never visited before, crossing a never seen park en route to a bar that was unknown to me. Every single day, I would like to walk that way again.
The topic of our conversation however wasn’t as unknown as these circumstances. We talked about unforeseen situations being the most wonderful of all (well, most of the time).
So whether your friends drag you out of your apartment right into reality (against your own will) followed by an unexpected great night (although „Star Wars on Blue Ray“ seemed much more compelling at first) or you just accompany a friend to the Cheese Steak Sandwich Country for a visit of old college buddies. Until now, I was very confidant that I would be too dumb or too smart to fall for these unforeseen situations because I simply anticipate something in every situation – well ….

I began this story being awake for more than 36 hours … alright, there was a small napping incident during the flight, but you can hardly call it a good deep sleep … in any case, you should consult a second opinion for what you are reading now.

But maybe, just maybe the insomnia back in Berlin was the reason, why my last 20-some hours „on the other side of the pond“ are still that present to me. Will this change tomorrow, when I look back on the most breathtaking sporting event of my whole life, the wonderful people I met or the conversations about things that became really important to me? Double digit days and counting on my streak towards not forgetting all this (I am high-fiving myself right now) …. still … done!
But hold on … how did all this started? What is the epic „foreplay“ to this experience? Glad you asked!

The idea to go abroad wasn’t actually mine. Having been in New York last September, I had a tough time to decide for another trip within a 6-months timeframe. I literally had to talk myself into the trip, hesitating a lot and even saying ’no‘ a couple of times. I just couldn’t justify to myself taking another 10 days off, especially in my situation as a freelancer. In the end, I decided to go – one of the best decisions ever …. clearly Top 5 and several spots above my decision to buy a „Jersey Shore-themed“ Elmo T-Shirt …

My initial expectations have been a roller coaster ride. Before the trip, I tried to get in touch with a guy that is responsible for NBA.de. I was literally applying as an author but never received a response. At one point, I feared he would report me to Facebook because of the several messages I sent him. At least now, I know the methods of stalking.
Hoping to receive an answer, I was a bit moody and didn’t know, if I would get a chance to connect with the blogging scene in New York, hence meeting that NBA guy.
And on top of this, there was also the situation of a missed opportunity (of course) – as we debated in Berlin about the question, if another $140 for a third game at MSG would be too overboard … well let me just say this – it was a) against the Lakers and b) „one of the best and most atmospheric games in the last decade“ … according to the several people we spoke with about that game … and we did not go. We sat about 100m away of the Madison Square Garden in a bar. Don’t get me wrong, the bar was cool, but not being in the Garden for this epic game is like having a skype call with someone you really wanna see. So after one and a half days, I was a solid 3 and out on the NBA guy, the Knicks Bloggers and Jeremy Lin vs. Kobe Bryant. Did I mention we had no luggage for four days?
But as the Knicks and LinSanity started to loom, this trip became better and better.

After thinking about pouring myself over with gasoline and lighting a match every time someone told us how great the Lakers game was, we decided to visit some good sports bars for the upcoming Knicks road games. We watched the Knicks/Wolves game at the Gatsby’s, a bar that has been mentioned in a New York Times article.
And what started as a relatively quiet evening with the Knicks winning another one, turned into one of the most craziest nights. The bar, minutes after the end of the game, transformed into a club and stage for 50 women, starting to party … with us in the middle of all this. It was like getting locked into Toys’R’Us over night – 50 women singing and dancing to „I wanna dance with somebody“ is something, that you never forget …. believe me.

The Knicks had three days off after that game in Minnesota and we could concentrate on trying to digest the night at Gatsby’s and praying, that our luggage hasn’t been blown up at JFK airport. Days went bye and my guilty conscience had a triumphant return. I decided to contact the guys I met last September in order to pull off a last second effort, doing something productive other than visiting the Ben & Jerry’s Store at Macy’s (repeatedly) and breaking my own record of consecutive days eating burgers. I succeeded in both categories, receiving an answer to my message and even a tip were to go for watching the Knicks game in Toronto … which ultimately ended in another burger as well.
The evening at the Traffic NYC (the tip) was defined by a waitress that could easily be a former KGB agent … the Knicks won that game thanks to some late game Jeremy Lin heroics – for me just enough to forget that waitress and her bad recommendation to eat the burger with that blue cheese.

The initial game plan for this trip obviously involved us attending Knicks Basketball at the famous Madison Square Garden. And coincidentally, at the day of the first game against the Sacramento Kings, many great und unreal things happened to me. I was in such a happy state, I could get stabbed by a random Nets fan on the streets and wouldn’t care … well, maybe not, but I had 3 amazing hours, meeting Tommy Dee from TheKnicksBlog.com and Ross Bernhardt from CHARGED.fm followed by an offer to write for their magazine. I was like Ray Stantz from The Ghostbusters 2 after getting splashed with this positive emotion slime – walking through Manhattan with a retarded smirk on my face.
Although the game against Sacramento was hardly competitive, you could feel the unmatched buzz in the Garden. The opponent wasn’t sexy (a fact that Tyreke Evans and his choice of wardrobe proved as he walked bye me outside the MSG) and more of a no-show than my luggage. But being at The Garden, seeing the Knicks win and realizing that 20% of all Sacramento Kings players are as clueless as I am when it comes to walking into the right direction in the streets of Manhattan really made me feel good.

Thinking about the whole day back in the hostel – the meeting & the game – I had problems to grasp all this. It felt like one of these important objectives you reach some time in your life. Your heart tells you to cheer and be happy, but your head is still computing all this. I was certain, that this day couldn’t be topped … well.

On the following friday, we took the Megabus to The City of Brotherly Love, visiting the college friends of my buddy. And as always, the time between arriving in Philly and boarding the plane back at JFK two days later flew bye. I initially didn’t know what to expect from this side trip. I knew that my friend Rob was really looking forward to Philly and I was about to play a low profile, maybe working a bit and let this group of close friends just have a good time without me interfering.

The visit started with one of these movie moments, where everything freezes for just a glimpse. I was standing in the kitchen of Rob’s friends, meeting them for the first time. It was a moment I fathomed 30 hours later.
After having dinner, the gang took us to the Wells Fargo Center for a clash of the 76ers, taking on Dirk and the Champs. It was the first time I went to an NBA arena not named Madison Square Garden. I liked the atmosphere and the old school style and witnessed a really mean Dirk performance in the second half to beat the home team Sixers.
What followed was the famously mentioned walk through Philadelphia and its park straight to the bar. And there it started for me. The chapter of the unforeseen …

Nothing could have prepared me for the next two days. The next morning, I woke up with a strange feeling, no hangover and the fact that the Knicks lost to the Hornets at home.
I luckily had enough time to watch the recap and write the article before we went out for breakfast and a sunny day in Philadelphia. I felt differently than 24 hours ago, but didn’t understand how. Was it a subconscious forecast to the drinking game that night or the fact, that something … somebody placed that feeling into my mind, not wanting to leave.
As the friday did, the saturday came and went. After that drinking game, were I pulled of an Al Harrington stat line, we went off to a bar. Oddly for me, bars in Philly usually close at 2 a.m.
So after arriving at the bar at midnight, we had 2 hours until the lights went on and a guy that could have easily been an MMA fighter charmingly asked us to get lost … in hindsight, the KGB waitress wasn’t that bad …

On the night from saturday to sunday, I slept wonderful but not enough to remove the marks of that drinking game from my face. I looked like Deena from Jersey Shore after a night at Karma’s. But the hangover wasn’t the worst part. There it was again, the feeling of not wanting to leave …
Standing at the bus station waiting for the ride, I just hoped to have enough room and two seats for myself to get the sleep I visibly needed before somebody shot me for looking like a zombie from The Walking Dead.
Just let me say this, the phrase „no this seat is taken by my friend the cookie monster“ did not discourage the woman to occupy the seat next to me. My streak of bad things continued back in New York as the waitress at Wendy’s told me, that burgers are not available until 12 o’clock. Wasn’t Michael Douglas going postal after getting rejected on his favorite breakfast meal?

So the fact, that I had to flee from a warm, comfortable and inhabited bed into a bus with no private space, being denied on my burger need and meeting a dutch guy at Starbucks, that told us he is not only living in NY for 18 years (really?!) but attended the last finale of the soccer world championship was a bigger buzz-kill than the recent Ted-and-Robin romance episode from How I Met Your Mother.
This is not a good start into the most anticipated game of these 10 days. Yes, we had tickets to Knicks vs. Mavericks. And after failing to be there early during the Kings game, we stood in front of the gate, waiting to get in early this time. There was however a tiny obstacle towards experiencing a jaw-dropping game of hoops.
The game started at 1:00 p.m. while our flight left at 6 p.m. – the deadline for us to leave for the airport (with a stopover at the hostel to pick up the luggage … which we received 4 days late … not sure if I mentioned that already) was 3 p.m. sharp.

When you enter Madison Square Garden, you listen to the typical music and see all the Knicks fans coming in, you get caught up in your emotions … even more when you are able to not only witness the pre game warmup from 15 meters away but watch the first quarter 20 meters away from the court.
We maneuvered from seat to seat, knowing that our actual seats were underneath the sealing until somebody detected us and we fled.
But on this matinee game at The Garden, you could have had your seats everywhere and got caught by an atmosphere, that still clinks in my body.

I am sure it is different for someone, who is not that attached to the city and the Knicks, but even my friend Rob, who is a die-hard Dirk fan was rattled by this game and the fans. Time went bye and we checked the clock continuously, trying to calculate the point where we need to leave The Garden.
We did not succeed … or we didn’t want to. The fans, the atmosphere and the close game made me realize, that I do not care if I would miss my flight at this point. So many things weren’t important in this particular moment. Getting back to Berlin, catching the flight, be at the airport on time … instead watching the game ‚till the end, or staying longer for that matter … doing something out of the ordinary …. the feeling of not wanting to leave that caught me in Philadelphia was back, tag-teamed with the emotions, caused by this game and the fact that I am witnessing it instead of sitting on my couch and watching it on TV … this tag-team was devil’s advocate.

„Why should I leave all this?“ The city was all Knicks, the people were all Knicks and I … I was in a weird but happy mood. I forgot my self control and my tendency to think rather than feel …. to do the right thing instead of the wrong.
I was ready to do something I never did before … even if it included to gamble on a feeling, I had since coming back from Philly. There was this feeling that just felt right.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t sort my emotions and thoughts. As J.R. Smith made the layup with 25 seconds left, giving the Knicks a 7 point lead, Rob pulled me out of my dream world back into reality. We had to find a cab that would drive us to the airport in light speed.

As I left The Garden, i had the feeling that I left something there … like I left something in Philadelphia. The cab ride was tough, looking back at the skyline through the window …. like looking back in time.
It did not feel right during that 7 hour flight to Amsterdam. Funny in a way because it was the first time, I wasn’t overly excited to go to New York in the first place. I was in a good working routine and did not felt comfortable leaving Berlin.
10 days later and I didn’t feel comfortable seeing Berlin again. I realized that my connection to this damn city became much stronger. Maybe it was because of the numerous relaxed breakfasts, because of LinSanity, sparking the city with hoops energy, the possibility of writing for CHARGED.fm or the fact that NYC is just two hours away from Philly?

Everything just felt right over there… right like it is supposed to be like this. Tough to leave that once you felt it and ultimately the motor that drives your motivation to be back sooner than later.

 

März 6th, 2012

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