My attempts to immerse myself into American life continue apace. This week, I took The Eldest to his (and mine) first NBA game when we travel
led to the ‘world famous’ Madison Square Garden to see the New York Knicks take on the Charlotte Bobcats. To say it was a clash of the titans would be a gross exaggeration. Both sides have lost twice as many games as they’ve won, and languish at the bottom of their respective sections of the leagueconference. It’s like Fulham playing Derby County, only with more armbands and less booting of the ball into row Z.
It’s kind of difficult to take the teams too seriously, given their respective names. The NBA contains Wizards, Timberwolves, SuperSonics, Raptors and Pistons. Call me old fashioned, but I like to see my sports teams with descriptors such as Town, City, United or Rovers. The Knicks’ full title is the New York Knickerbockers. Sure, maybe they trace their moniker back to Dutch settlers and their propensity to wear a specific type of pants, but that doesn’t mean I expect to be watching the Swindon Shell Suits or the Louisiana Legwarmers in years to come.
Actually the game itself was pretty enjoyable, especially given that the Knicks won by almost 25 points. But, like the ice hockey game I saw last year, it has to be said that the occasion was particularly without atmosphere – even a match between Chester and Mansfield, attended by 3000 people or less, can produce more chanting and singing than an NBA game it would seem.
Then again, that’s probably not surprising for a sporting occasion at which vendors walk around selling
candy flosscotton candy.
Waiting for the start of the game, I was struck again by the determination of Americans to celebrate their national identity and patriotism. Sure, the person who was wheeled out to sing the national anthem was merely a local radio personality, but she belted it like there were 90 million people watching her at the Super Bowl, and had her fellow Americans whooping and hollering before she’d even got to “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”.
It’s a mighty contrast to the occasions on which Russell Watson or Hayley Westenra step up at Wembley or Twickenham to sing “God Save The Queen”, where the reaction varies from indifference to contempt. “The Star Spangled Banner” is a rip-roaring barnstormer of a tune in comparison – even an American Idol reject could sing it and get a standing ovation.
Fortunately, Scottish comedian Billy Connolly has got a few ideas about how the British can up their game when it comes to the national anthem. “The Archers” may not mean much to Americans right now, but you’ll all be humming it by the time of London 2012.