Madison Square Garden is often referred to as “The worlds most famous arena”, it’s also the mecca of all things basketball. Along with the New York Knicks, the St. John’s Red Storm also call MSG home. The journey of the college basketball program and the inanimate object seem aligned as of late.
Over much of the 2000s, the Garden not only saw a porous Knicks squad, but a flailing St. John’s basketball program. Year after year the Garden saw losing teams put out by both the Knicks and the Red Storm. The resulting reactions were an obvious “cause and effect” situation. The effect, nobody cared about MSG anymore. The cause, bad basketball squads were put out for the New York faithful to watch.
If you’re old enough, anyone over 25, there was a time when every basketball player’s dream was to play in the Garden. I can remember as a young kid pretending I was Chris Mullin hitting a game winning 3 against whatever Big East foe I had imagined for the day. When I, the young aspiring(albeit not good) basketball player, was dreaming up these situations, they never happened at the Spectrum or whatever dump the New Jersey Nets played at, it was all happening at the Garden.
Today we live in a world where most young basketball players don’t dream of playing in the Garden. They rather choose their college destination based on the coach, weather, and the ratio of hot women to dudes(nothing wrong with that). But with the help of head coach Steve Lavin and a resurgence of winning, the Red Storm are looking to change all of that.
It was only 3 short years ago that Lavin took over a struggling Johnnies program. In a short matter of time he made the impossible happen, Lavin helped make the Garden magical all over again. In his first year at the helm, Lavin and his team made an amazing winning streak at the Garden. St. John’s was toppling Big East powers night after night in front of an impassioned crowd. For the first time since the 1998-99 Red Storm squad, New York City and the Garden was owned by St. Johns.
Regardless of how many games, NCAA tourney bids, or titles that St. John’s win in the future, I doubt the glory of St. John’s playing in the Garden will ever be imprinted on the young minds of future hoops superstars. I don’t think that really matters anymore. Not to them, maybe not even to the St. John’s basketball program. But I’m sure it matters to all the longtime Red Storm fans as well as the city of New York.
Duke, Wisconsin, and the like get a lot of credit for having amazing fans, but I’ll tell you something. Whether it’s this season, the next, or 10 seasons from now, when St. John’s gets great again and they’re playing a rival school, go. Just go to Madison Square Garden and soak in the atmosphere. When the program is doing well, the Garden becomes alive and there isn’t a more magical place to watch a college basketball game. Bet on that.