NYC Basketball For Beginners

Jonathan Zeller

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

TeamNew York KnicksBrooklyn Nets
Year founded19461967 (moved to Brooklyn in 2012)
Home arenaMadison Square GardenBarclays Center
Championships1970, 19731974, 1976 (American Basketball Association)
Notable celebrity connectionSpike Lee is a constant courtside presence.Jay Z used to be a part owner of the team, and designed the logo.
Sample moment of agonyThe 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 triumphWillis 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.

Want to see a game? Visit for Knicks and Nets tickets.

Three Reasons to Check Out 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. Here's why:

1. Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center draw the best teams. Starting with early season events like the NIT Season Tip-Off in November and running through the Atlantic 10 and Big East tournaments in March, these two big arenas in the media capital of the world frequently host top-ranked programs. This year Syracuse, Duke, Michigan, Virginia and Indiana are among those that will visit.
2. New York City is where March Madness was born. Before the NCAA Tournament was the main event, the NIT was the Holy Grail for the nation's best squads. The first NIT, held in 1938, came a year before the NCAA tournament's debut and brought six top teams to Madison Square Garden.
3. We have local teams in all five boroughs.
Columbia: Morningside Heights' Ivy Leaguers have a smart-alecky pep band.

Fordham: This Atlantic 10 team plays in the Bronx at historic Rose Hill Gym, the second-oldest arena in Division I (of about 350).

Long Island University (LIU): The Blackbirds, who play in Brooklyn, recently had an NEC mini dynasty.

Manhattan: The Jaspers face MAAC rivals in the Bronx's Riverdale neighborhood.
New York University: The Division III Violets' pep band cranks out funk rock covers.

St. Francis (NY): LIU's NEC rivals play at an intimate Brooklyn Heights home where fans can watch the game from just a few feet away.

St. John's: When they're not at the Garden, the Red Storm play in a sterling on-campus arena in Queens.

Wagner: There's D-I basketball on Staten Island, too.

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. There's streetball  (which is free and takes place all around the five boroughs) and, at Madison Square Garden, the WNBA's New York Liberty—led by Olympian, NCAA champion and Queens native Tina Charles.


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