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A fan’s eye view: USA Basketball vs. Puerto Rico

Scroll down below the images for Myles’ thoughts on the game (and on Madison Square Garden), but first, enjoy the gallery of images from the game!

I went to see USA Basketball play Puerto Rico Friday night at Madison Square Garden. It was my first time seeing basketball at the Garden, which probably makes me a very bad Knicks fan. I argue that I am only a very cheap Knicks fan. Either way, I understand why tickets are so expensive. It’s a beautiful stadium. We sat in the 200 level, which afforded great views of the action, which included not only basketball, but performances from the U.S. Air Force Drill Guard Team (boring, but I totally support the troops and stuff) and The Timeless Torches, an incredible team of old people who dance. We each bought burgers for $11 (!) apiece, and beers for $11 (!) apiece. The burgers in particular were delicious, but they would have had to change my life to be worth $11. Still, now that I’ve seen how nice the stadium is, I’ll probably be more inclined to shell out to see the Knicks, especially now that I can’t see NBA basketball for cheap in New Jersey anymore.

I brought my camera along. I have a cheap zoom lens, but I’m pretty experienced shooting with it for my job (news dude). As a caveat, many photographers will tell you that basketball is one of the hardest sports to shoot, and I was much farther away than the real photographers with nicer equipment, so they’re not the best.

Some other things I noticed that I didn’t photograph:

  • Puerto Rico had a ton of support. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised given the area, but I was. Lots of “Puer-to Ri-co” and “Boriqua” chants. I did my best to counter with a good old U-S-A.
  • The Puerto Rican jerseys had advertisements. Or rather, more noticeable advertisements than the Nike swooshes on the US jerseys.
  • Daniel Santiago wears Horace Grant-style rec specs and gives hard fouls and I love it.
  • James Harden really didn’t have a great game. He was sloppy on offense and lazy on defense, with a few hand-down-man-down moments.
  • While Stephen Curry shot the lights out, I thought Kenneth Faried was the best U.S. player. His role is exactly the same as it is on Denver: Rebound, run, finish. The two blocks were get-up moments as well.
  • There weren’t that many get-up moments. Puerto Rico played the U.S. tough, especially in the first half. Even when the game was slipping away, they didn’t let it turn into a highlight show, making sure to foul on fast breaks. I admire their competitiveness and professionalism, but I wanted to see some sick dunks.
  • Boogie Cousins had a nice game on the stat sheet, but he also committed some silly, impetuous fouls that won’t help change the prevailing narrative about him.
  • For a stadium, the bathrooms at Madison Square Garden are pretty clean. Check ‘em out if you ever need to pee.

Myles Ma