Rewind to about 75 minutes before tip-off at Barclays.
I had just completed my second radio interview of the day—this one with ESPN Chicago’s Jonathan Hood. From the MSG’s concourse, again, I gave Hood my thoughts on the series and explained that Joakim Noah’s health would likely determine the winner.
I left Madison Square Garden at 7:00pm and had no idea what would await me at Barclays.
I decided to take the subway because I was cognizant of the traffic congestion that a Nets game causes and I simply could not risk being late.
From the Garden, I hopped on the Brooklyn bound “3” train. The six-mile trek takes only about 25 minutes.
Surrounded by Knicks fans, still decked out in orange, I sat within earshot of a young couple discussing why and how the Knicks could win the championship this season. 15 minutes later, as the subway crossed over into Brooklyn, the orange glow had faded to black.
A pair of young gentlemen stepped onto the train at Clark Street—four stops short of Barclays Center.
“The Bulls can’t see us,” I overheard one of them say. The conversation revolved around the team while I lurked in the shadows. I flanked them as they rode the escalator up out of Atlantic Terminal and onto the street, right in front of Barclays Center.
“This is history,” I thought to myself.
And I was not the only one that recognized the cool factor of this day.
After dominating the Bulls for the first 24 minutes of Game 1 at Barclays, I sought out to make personal contact with 31-year old Frank Carlson.
Frank, a Yonkers, NY, native, is a die-hard Knicks fan who was on hand for the Knicks victory at Madison Square Garden. He was only too proud to penetrate “enemy” territory in Brooklyn donning his blue and orange Carmelo Anthony jersey.
Riding high after the Knicks pulled out a victory over the Celtics, a 45-minute cab ride and $30 later, Frank made it to Barclays.
“This is history,” he told me during our encounter at halftime in Brooklyn. “Though, if the Knicks lost, I probably would have just gone home,” he admitted with a chuckle.
After the Knicks pulled out a feel good victory, Frank decided to drag the others in his crew down to Brooklyn. Amanda Lyon, his girlfriend and also a Knicks fan, was genuinely excited to make the trek.
“I’ve been a Knicks fan my entire life,” Amanda told me. “But it’s a great day to be a New Yorker and a better day to be a basketball fan,” she said when asked what it felt like to be taking in her second basketball game of the day in New York City.
And Frank’s two buddies—Khanh Tran and David Bergmann—were as excited as two Celtics fans could have been, given their team’s earlier loss.
I was then shocked to learn that both were Bostonians.
Khahn, whose mother works in Watertown, Massachusetts, was especially appreciative of Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce joining forces before tip-off at the Garden to wish the city of Boston and its residents well.
Watertown, after all, was literally on lockdown just one day earlier as Boston authorities searched for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—the prime suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.
“I appreciated that,” Khahn told me. “You can’t say anything bad about that—both teams acknowledging everything that’s going on.”
Today, Khahn is a Brooklyn resident of two years and lives within walking distance of Barclays Center. He roots for the Nets—as long as they are not playing his hometown Celtics.
The day-night double-header, for him, was an opportunity to take in some positive history and hopefully put a tough week full of anguish behind him.
“This is the most intense game I’ve been to all season,” he said. “I’m not gonna lie, this day was a great experience,” he told me.
And David, the other Bostonian of the bunch, lives about an hour outside of Boston. He, too, like Khahn’s mother, was on high alert while the manhunt persisted.
“It was a crazy 24 hours,” he said. “It was intense.”
Relieved, he left his home and took the drive down I-95 to New York to watch his hometown Celtics after Khahn called him on Thursday and pitched the idea.
I was relieved to know that I was not the only one that was excited to be a part of the NBA’s special day.
And there was special significance in knowing that two of the others who enjoyed the experience were doing so in the aftermath of a tragedy that struck me especially hard.
Both Khahn and David were wearing their Celtics jerseys. And each of the Bostonians had faith that their team would bounce back.
“It’s a seven game series,” Khann reminded Frank. “Boston is gonna go crazy,” he said of when the series travels 200 miles Northeast.
But on this night, at this moment, it was about Brooklyn. Here, worlds collided.
One journalist, two New Yorkers, two Bostonians.
Five NBA fans.
Together at Barclays Center, taking in the sights and sounds of New York City’s first ever day-night NBA playoff double-header. For me, it was a 14-hour day that included visiting two boroughs.
And I enjoyed every minute of it.
In April, I covered two NBA Playoff games within six miles of one another.
That was awesome.
That was history.
And above all, that is why I do this.
Moke Hamilton is a Senior NBA Columnist for SheridanHoops.com whose columns appear here regularly on Tuesdays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter: @MokeHamilton