The Big East Tournament in Madison Square Garden (the current Garden is often referred to as MSG IV or the 4th incarnation of MSG) is one of the highlights of the college basketball season. A week's worth of basketball in the world's greatest City is an event every great basketball fan needs to experience. Indeed Madison Square Garden has always been Georgetown's home away from home. As I think about Chris Wright's unfortunate injury, I remember the 1993-94 season when Georgetown shocked everyone with a run to the Big East Final. I remember Hoya fans rocking the old Blue seats in Madison Square Garden. In fact whenever I enter the Garden I can still hear that fan behind me screaming at the top of his lungs: "Joey Brown--Morgan City, Louisiana!" That is a cheer I will never forget. Indeed Joey Brown is one of my all-time favorite Hoyas! At only 5'9" Joey was a ferocious defender who was always a clutch shooter with the game on the line.
The first Madison Square Garden was opened in 1879 in a former hippodrome at the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and 26th Streets. The original Garden hosted the Democratic National Convention as well as both the Barnum and Ringling's circuses. The second version of Madison Square Garden was built in the same location by a syndicate of J.P. Morgan, P.T. Barnum, Andrew Carnegie, Darius Mills, James Stillman, and W. W. Astor. The Garden has an unprecedented history of boxing matches including 32 world championship fights between1925-1945. Indeed Ali-Frazier I in 1971 was perhaps the first major sporting event of my childhood. Although there is much debate on actual dates, it is commonly accepted that both the first college and professional basketball games were played at Madison Square Garden. Indeed the first professional game was won by the Original Celtics. The current home of the Big East tournament, Madison Square Garden is where basketball began--The Mecca!
From the days when I lived on West 21st Street I loved to visit Madison Square Park. Madison Square Garden--The World's Most Famous Arena is my favorite place to watch a ball game. I can still remember my First Big East Tournament when we defeated #2 ranked St. John's University which featured future NBA stars Chris Mullin, Bill Wennington, Mark Jackson, and Walter Berry. The game was the closest thing to a heavyweight fight I have ever seen, as the cheers of Hoya Saxa sounded throughout the 5 boroughs. I remember our last BET title in 2007 as we defeated Pitt--I got to share this with the Hoya Hoop Club Blogmaster John Hawkes. I always look forward to seeing former AD's Frank Rienzo and Joe Lang. I often run into Frank Rienzo at the Church of St. Francis. We both love the movie the Godfather along with Hall of Fame Coach John Thompson, Jr. I remember discussing games and the Big East conference with Joe Lang. Joe used to tell me that Frank McGuire at St. John's would tell him that the blue seats in the Garden up high were the best place to see the game, as you could see the plays develop and players free themselves for open shots.
Indeed I better get packing! My train leaves in about 8 hours. On Wednesday we will play the winner of the UCONN--DePaul game. After this crazy Big East season, I will not comment on who I think will win. If you are coming to the games or are in New York City, drop by the Affinia Hotel before doubleheader sessions at the Hoya Headquarters. We will have a Hoya Hoop Club reception at 5:00 PM on Wednesday March 9th with AD Lee Reed at Stout NYC.
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Let's Play Ball--We are Georgetown!
Dr. Thomas A. Wong
Hoya Hoop Club Vice-President & Director of Communications
Proud Member of Generation Ewing