NYC Basketball Guide

Jonathan Zeller

(Updated 10/23/2019)

You've heard about basketball, of course—one of the most popular sports in the world, with millions of viewers at home and abroad. You know that New York City is one of the best places to see the game in its professional, collegiate and pickup forms. But if you're a novice, you might still have a few questions. What is a Knick? Where is streetball played, and how can you watch? Are graphing calculators allowed? Worry not—this is the year you become a fan. We've created the ultimate beginner's guide to NYC hoops.

NYC NBA Cheat Sheet

Team New York Knicks (tickets) Brooklyn Nets (tickets)
Year founded 1946 1967 (moved to Brooklyn in 2012)
Home arenaMadison Square GardenBarclays Center
Championships 1970, 1973 1974, 1976 (American Basketball Association)
Notable celebrity connection Spike Lee is a constant courtside presence. Jay-Z used to be a part owner of the team, and designed the logo.
Sample moment of agony The Pacers' Reggie Miller somehow scores 8 points in 11 seconds to derail seemingly certain playoff victory in 1995. Financial troubles (stemming in part from territorial fees due the Knicks) force team to sell Julius Erving's contract upon entry to the NBA in 1976.
Sample moment of triumph Willis Reed limps onto the court to play hero in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals. Erving dunks from the free-throw line in the 1976 ABA Slam Dunk Contest.
Named for inanimate object?Yes (sort of).Yes.

College Basketball in NYC

You may not think of New York City as the center of the college basketball universe—we're a long way from Lawrence, Kansas, or North Carolina's Tobacco Road, for that matter—but there may be no place where you can see a wider variety of NCAA action. Starting with early season events like the NIT Season Tip-Off in November and through the Atlantic 10 and Big East tournaments in March, Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center frequently host top-ranked programs.

Basketball All Year Round

Even in summertime, when the NBA is out of season and local college teams are off, you can see plenty of competitive basketball. Playground basketball is free and takes place all around the five boroughs, and the WNBA's New York Liberty—led by Olympian, NCAA champion and Queens native Tina Charles—play their home games at Barclays Center.