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By Homer D. Sayson

PhilBoxing's NBA Travels : Pit Stop New York
Sat, 01 Nov 2014

CHICAGO -- The flight lasted two hours and two minutes. And it was JetBlue fast and smooth.

With the 2014-15 NBA season upon us, I traveled to the greatest city in the world last October 29 to catch the New York Knicks' home opener against the Chicago Bulls at the world-famous Madison Square Garden.

The journey began with a late morning flight from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago to the John F. Kennedy international airport in New York. Upon my arrival at 1:44 pm local time, I took the subway and emerged at he Penn Station on 34th street where the Madison Square Garden is located.

Having been pumped with $1.2 billion worth of renovations, the Garden looked splendid inside without losing its old, unique charm.

Just like L.A., where Hollywood's A-list make a beeline to Staples Center, the Garden did not suffer a shortage of star power.

I saw Taylor Swift and I immediately began humming her hit song "Shake it off." Swift came with her BFF, a Victoria Secret angel named Karlie Kloss whose long legs and dazzling beauty made her hot as a fever.

Justin Bieber was there, too. He wore a Fedora and looked kind of cool, But I'm still not a fan.

I caught up with my old friend, Michael Wilbon of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption fame, at the media dining where we chatted a bit. I forked $8 for the food and paid special attention to the sumptuous tuna salad on the overflowing buffet table. .

With a well gratified belly, I meandered to my seat at the press box.

The pregame festivities were a blast. The game wasn't.

With their depth, chemistry and cohesion, the Bulls blasted the Knicks, 104-80. New York fell behind by 35 points at one point and their supposed triangle offense under new head coach Derek Fisher looked pitifully dull.

After visiting both lockers at the game's conclusion, I exited the Garden at close to midnight. As I walked towards 29th street where fellow writer and good friend Den Cortes was parked, my eyes caught a man and a woman kissing so passionately I thought they were examining each other's tonsils. Only in New York.

Before reaching Den's waiting BMW, we were drawn to the aroma of street food across the street from the Affinia Hotel. For $3 a pop, we feasted on the chicken kabob and washed it down with a small bottled water for a $1.

Den tempted me with an offer of unlimited adult beverages at a bar of my choosing anywhere in sleepless Manhattan, but with my return flight just a few short hours away, I chose the 40 winks and was at the airports before 6 AM.

At about 7 am my flight headed back to Chicago, ending a whirlwind 17-hour trip to New York.

Till then... See you on our next road trip.

Top photo: The author at the Madison Square Garden media center overlooking midtown Manhattan...

... at the Madison Square Garden main entrance.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau addressing the media after the game.

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