NEW YORK -- I have to admit that I've never been that big a fan of Madison Square Garden.
I get that it's the World's Most Famous Arena and all that, and I don't question the history in this place. But to borrow a phrase from one of this place's sporting neighbors, I don't really buy into the "mystique and aura" by which the Garden has defined itself for so long.
If you gave me a choice between this place and the Palestra, I'd take Philadelphia's version of 33rd Street every time. I suspect many of you would, too. There's something about the closeness to the game, the banners in the ceiling and the way the noise seems to hover over the court that just does not exist anywhere else.
Having said that, I expect my cynicism to be tested tonight. This is a city that loves superstars, and Davidson's Stephen Curry is definitely one of them. I've heard that tonight's Jimmy V Classic doubleheader is not sold out, but I expect the Knicks fans in the house to be paying close attention.
I will also say this in the Garden's defense: the architecture of the seating bowl is unlike any other venue you'll ever see. I love how the seats rise at a low angle, allowing a fan in the expensive seats courtside to see all the way up to the slightly less expensive seats in the very last row. And I love the pedestrian walkways inside the seating bowl, a feature that very few stadiums and arenas have anymore.
(The only other one I know of within earshot of Philadelphia is RFK Stadium in Washington, another place that has aged more than its fair share over the years.)
But I've never felt the real atmosphere of this place. Maybe I will tonight. But if I don't, I'm not too sure I'll miss it.