I Went to a WNBA Game


On Thursday, August 26, 2010 I saw the “New York Liberty” play the “Indiana Fever” in Madison Square Garden. That’s what this is going to be about.

How I got the tickets

I got the tickets for free from someone I worked a temp job with two weeks ago. We became friends at the temp job. He repeatedly told me I was funny because I was sarcastic and often completely dispirited. He said I reminded him of the guy from “The Office.” I asked him which guy from “The Office” and he said he didn’t know. I liked him because he liked me.

At one point he asked me if I had any tattoos and I showed him a large tattoo I have of Rasheed Wallace, a basketball player. We started talking about basketball. He said he had played at Lincoln High School in Coney Island (NBA alumni include Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair, and Lance Stephenson – it’s the high school in “He Got Game”) and now he is playing Division I college basketball at Jacksonville University. He said he wants to play professionally in Europe after he graduates. I told him I have a friend playing in Germany. I also told him that my dad knows a sports agent who sometimes negotiates European basketball contracts. I said I would contact both of them for him.

After I told him these things, he said he could get me professional basketball tickets whenever I wanted them. His “mentor,” he said, works for the Knicks and often has tickets to give away. I told him I was interested in free tickets. He called his mentor on speakerphone to prove he wasn’t lying. He asked the mentor for tickets. The mentor made a noise like he didn’t want to give him tickets. A week later, the temp job friend gave me three WNBA tickets outside the West 4th subway stop while eating a cheeseburger from McDonald’s.

My experience with the WNBA

I remember when the first game happened in 1997. I taped it. I remember thinking that the tape would be really valuable at some point in the future. I remember telling everyone in my family not to change the channel because that would mess up the recording. I left a note on the TV as well. I didn’t watch any of the game. I pressed record on the VCR and did something else. Maybe I saw the tip off. I have never rewatched that tape and I have no idea where it is now. In my life, I have probably watched less than 3 minutes of WNBA action prior to attending this game.

Attending the game

I met two of my friends at the southwest corner of 34th street and 7th avenue and gave them their tickets. I felt there was a 5-15% chance of the tickets being fake or counterfeit or something due to the “too-good-to-be-true” nature of the situation, the fact that my temp job friend was not attending the game himself, and the fact that I was once sold a counterfeit ticket outside a baseball game; however, I didn’t mention this to my friends and, according to the ticket scanning devices, the tickets were not counterfeit.

Inside the stadium, we walked to some escalators and were given small plastic bags with more plastic inside. I didn’t know what they were at first then one of my friends said they were “spirit sticks.” The game was a playoff game. Everyone got spirit sticks. It was the first game of a best-of-three series. On the escalator, we talked about how best-of-three series are weird.

Madison Square Garden

Both my friends commented on how “shitty” and unimpressive Madison Square Garden is on the inside. The seats are teal and magenta. Everything else is concrete. I read somewhere that the concession stands routinely perform poorly on health inspections. I didn’t get good cell phone reception there either. Our seats were in “Section 229.” This was our view:

The game

Before the game, #5 from the Liberty received the WNBA’s “Most Improved Player” award. Everyone cheered for her. They gave her a trophy. The Indiana players were introduced next. The PA announcer read their names in a bored monotone. We booed them some. Then they turned off all the lights. A video played on the scoreboard and people cheered. The PA announcer started speaking in a deep, animated voice. Loud jock-jams-type music played. We clapped our spirit sticks and shouted things. They introduced the New York players. A man in cargo shorts did backflips at center court. Then they turned on the lights and played basketball.

The Indiana team led for most of the first half, but the Liberty “rallied” to lead by one point at half time. #23 on the Liberty did a lot of scoring. #14 made some three-pointers. One of our favorite things was the head coach of the Indiana team. She was short and round and wore a black-and-white patterned suit jacket. Here is a picture of her I found on the internet.

There was a lot of “peripheral” entertainment during timeouts, between quarters, and at halftime. They repeatedly showed a little girl dancing in a hilarious manner. They showed the same fat guy a lot too. There was a DJ. They threw t-shirts into the crowd. Two little girls were made to run the length of the court in extremely baggy clothing. One of them fell. The Liberty mascot, a dog named “Flat Maddie,” danced to popular music. An inflatable version of Flat Maddie came out at halftime and moved around the court in weird ways until it began to deflate.

In the second half, the Liberty outscored the Indiana team and won by more than twenty points. #17 on the Liberty did a lot of good things in the fourth quarter. People cheered more in the second half than they did in the first half. Here’s a video of my friend and I cheering:
[vimeo 14611140 w=623 h=467]

The crowd

I had previously been told that WNBA games are well-known for being a lesbian pick-up scene but I don’t think I saw many lesbians at the game. There were a number of grown men who seemed to be there alone. At its peak attendance, I’d estimate that the Madison Square Garden was only 60-65% full. I screamed “NICE FLOP” at one of the Indiana players and several people in my section looked at me nervously. A serious-looking woman wearing a backpack blocked my view for long stretches of the second half. She appeared to be coordinating a group outing though everyone in her group sat separately and by themselves. The people in her group seemed to include an old man with white hair who ate something out of a tinfoil wrapper and drank something out of a brown paper bag, a confused Asian man who sat in front us, and another serious-looking woman in an adjacent section. These people didn’t show up until well after halftime.

Final impressions

It was really fun. It’s weird to yell female pronouns at a sporting event.

You should follow us on twitter here.

Photo and video by Kenneth Swoyer