Madison Square Garden Has Lasting Legacy in Basketball

NEW YORK -- As far as basketball goes, few places can match the history of Madison Square Garden. No wonder it's the self-appointed "World's Most Famous Arena."

Take a subway to the Penn Street Station in the heart of Manhattan. Exit to your left. Just another crazy subway station in New York City? Maybe, but this one is a little different if you love basketball. Because now, you're directly below one of the sport's biggest stages.

The original Madison Square Garden was built in 1874. The one that stands today, on 34th Street, is the fourth version of MSG. It was built in 1968 on top of super-busy Penn Station.

Between concerts, hockey, basketball and other events, MSG is used extensively year-round and rarely has a day off. For basketball purposes, though, it's best known as the home court of the NBA's New York Knicks and the WNBA's New York Liberty.

Through those teams, MSG played host to NBA Finals games in the 1970, 1972, 1973, 1994 and 1999, as well as the 1998 NBA All-Star Game and three WNBA All-Star Games.

Some of basketball's biggest stars have enjoyed career nights under the MSG spotlight, including Michael Jordan's "double nickel" 55-point explosion in 1995.

Professional basketball games aren't the only thing Madison Square Garden hangs it's hoops hat on, though. Consider the other big basketball events regularly taking place in Manhattan:

  • Since 2001, the NBA Draft has been held at Madison Square Garden, but not in the arena. Rather, the WaMu Theater next door to the arena has been the site of amateur basketball players seeing their dreams come true. WaMu is considered part of Madison Square Garden.

  • The Big East basketball tournament has been held at Madison Square Garden every year since 1983. Considered by many to be the best conference basketball tournament in the country, the Big East tournament has had many memorable games, like the 2009 Connecticut-Syracuse showdown that went six overtimes.

  • St. John's University is located in Queens, but plays many of its men's home games at Madison Square Garden.

  • MSG also plays host to the preseason and postseason NIT Tournament, and various other college games including the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and the Jimmy V Classic.

  • The McDonald's All-America Game, featuring the top high school basketball players in the United States, was at Madison Square Garden in 2002.

  • The Jordan Brand Classic, a high school basketball All-Star Game, is held annually at Madison Square Garden.

  • The PSAL Championships--which include all public schools in New York City--are held at MSG in March.

Having been around for more than four decades and being in the center of one of the world's most iconic cities, you would be hard-pressed to find an elite basketball player who's never played at Madison Square Garden. Many of those stars, like Jordan, Kobe and LeBron, saw their visit as a chance to shine in basketball's brightest spotlight.

After all, it is the "World's Most Famous Arena."

Discuss This Article