Bread City Basketball

January 30, 2012, 12:39 pm
Filed under: Bread City, College Basketball, Music, Sports Photography | Tags: ,

Hypnotic Brass EnsembleSpottie

photo via TGA



What attracted me was the swish, the sound of the dribble, the feel of going up in the air. You don’t need eight others, like in baseball. You don’t need any brothers or sisters. Just you. I wonder what the guys are doing back home. I’d like to be there, but it’s as much fun here, because I’m playing. It’s getting dark. I have to go back for dinner. I’ll shoot a couple more. Feels good. A couple more.
– From A Sense of Where you Are: Bill Bradley at Princeton, by John McPhee

The Knicks stole Bill Bradley in the 1965 NBA Draft. There was no frozen envelope, just a now-obscure rule known as the Territorial Pick. Between 1950 and 1966, NBA teams had first dibs on drafting any college player within 50 miles.

Bradley had graduated from Princeton as the Associated Press Player of the Year, the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, and a two-time First Team All-American. And since Princeton, New Jersey is 1 mile closer to New York City than to Philadelphia, the Knicks were able to scoop Bradley away from the 76ers as a Territorial Pick.

The rest is history: Bradley played with New York for his entire basketball career – save for one season with Olimpia Milano – and his #24 jersey was retired by the Knicks in 1984.

Bill Bradley Knick

Woody Allen on Earl Monroe

“What makes Monroe different is the indescribable heat of genius that burns deep inside him. Some kind of diabolical intensity comes across his face when he has the ball. One is suddenly transported to a more primitive place…It’s amazing, because the audience’s “high” originates inside Monroe and seems to emerge over his exterior.
– Woody Allen, Sport Magazine, Nov. 1977.

Allen is sent by the once-great Sport to interview Earl Monroe for a cover story. But Pearl never shows and Allen is left to make small talk with “Earl’s lady.” A true fan, Woody swallows the snub and writes a great profile of the arthritic Knicks captain anyway, full of signature wit and basketball wisdom.

I read a transcript of the article once before, but never saw the original scans until yesterday, thanks to the excellent Oakley & Allen. True holy grail status! Check it out.

Earl Monroe photographed by Jim Cummins





The first night game at Ebbets Field was played on June 15, 1938. Colorized in 2009.

brooklyn dodgers art


As our team sat in the dark, dingy locker room … I emerged from a near-comatose state and jumped up, wanting to finish the game. I have no memory of anything that occured from halftime to the next morning … What happens to the human psyche when a person suffers traumatic harm? What does a person do with the deluge of emotions that infiltrates his mind and changes from minute to minute? One minute I felt that everything would be fine, that healing was happening. The next minute all I could think about was hatred and retribution … Emotionally and philosophically, I was in a crisis. Ron Behagan, Clyde Turner, Corky Taylor, and Coach Bill Musselman had become objects of what philosophers Jeffrie G. Murphy and Jean Hampton call ‘moral hatred.’ … After college, I played for a few years with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA, but I never played with the same intensity of enjoyment that I had before the Minnesota game.

– Luke Witte’s post-brawl account is excerpted from an essay on forgiveness in Basketball and Philosophy. Sports Illustrated called the fight “the most vicious attack in college basketball lore.” This was Witte’s face. He is now a pastor.


Madison Square Garden, aka The Garden, aka The Mecca, is on its fifth life.

Sixty years before Marbury’s MSG there was a crazy open-air Madison Square Garden Bowl in Long Island City, and before that one were the first two arenas actually on Madison Avenue in the late 1800s. But it was Madison Square Garden III, a behemoth built by a boxing promoter on 50th Street and 8th Avenue, that cemented its legend status as the World’s Most Famous Arena.

MSG III’s grand opening event was a six day indoor bicycle race in November of 1925, but boxing and ice hockey were the stadium’s real bread and butter, drawing massive crowds. It became such a huge deal for a boxer to appear at the Garden that even the big shots got stage fright in the locker room. The Knicks made their Garden debut in 1948, but college ball pulled in more at the III. Below, St. John’s faces U. of Frisco in some throwback NIT action.

Check how bad the old blue seats were. Cigarette/cigar smoking was allowed and arena ventilation was nonexistent. If you sat in those way-upper decks, by the second half it was like watching a basketball game from inside of a house fire.

MSG III was torn down in 1968 and remained a Hell’s Kitchen parking lot for twenty-one years. It’s now the site of One Worldwide Plaza, a 49-story skyscraper that is currently the 87th tallest building in the world.

The history of Madison Square Garden, the world's most famous arena(s), in New York City.
photo by the great Ralph Morse