Saturday, April 5, 2014

Wizards Hit New York Right Where it Counts

It's Friday night in Washington, DC. I'm cruising around the H Street corridor looking for a bar to watch the Knicks play the Wizards. Not a club, not a lounge, a bar. One with plenty of bar space and preferably a couple of other basketball fans that I could watch the game with. The first watering hole I entered was a spot called The H Street Country Club, a place best known for its indoor miniature golf course. No luck. Not only was no one in the building watching the game, the game wasn't even on. Instead, they were showing a random baseball game. I couldn't even tell you who was playing, and Denver versus Memphis. Needless to say, I left the premises. Next, I went into a bar across the street that had plenty of televisions showing the game, but zero bar space. The place was actually a lounge playing incredibly sappy soft r&b tunes. Again, no basketball junkies to be found. I was headed back to my place, and tried one more spot. Again, the game was on a television, but the smooth jazz playing just wasn't the type of vibe that I was looking for on this occasion. This was a big game, especially for the Knicks, and I wanted to feel its magnitude in some way that these places weren't giving me.

The Wizards had already clinched a playoff spot on Wednesday night. Of course, nobody seemed to notice in D.C. Meanwhile, in New York, with all the other sports teams struggling, with the exception of the Brooklyn Nets, the Knicks were fighting to stay alive in the playoff hunt. New York City, a basketball town, was counting on the Knicks to win this game and stay stay alive.

By the time, I returned to my place, tucked away in the shadows behind the RFK stadium parking lot, it was already the third quarter. The Knicks were up by a slim margin. It remained close throughout the contest, and appeared as though it would be J.R. Smith's 32 points that would send the Knicks to victory, but the game came down to a big shot by Bradley Beal with 22.9 seconds left to put the Wizards up 90-89. Carmelo Anthony struggled mightily, only scoring 10 points on 5-14 shooting from the field. On the final possession, Anthony lost the handle on the ball while trying to penetrate. Smith had a decent look at the basket from long-range, but the shot went off the side of the iron. Madison Square Garden, the center of the basketball universe, was stunned once again into a comatose state. The Wizards had rolled into New York and dealt a crushing blow to the Knicks' playoff chances, and an even more crushing blow to the city of New York, a town so desperate for an NBA title. It was a deflating loss for New York, but a gritty win by Washington in a playoff atmosphere. If only people in D.C. actually cared.