TRAVEL BLOG, GAME 6: BROOKLYN

BROOKLYN – In the middle of the third quarter of Thursday’s Clippers-Nets game, I turned to the reporter sitting next to me and said, “This would probably be a really fun place to watch a good game.”

Unfortunately, the Clippers’ only trips to Barclays Center since it opened last October have not gone very well. Either way, it still seems like it would be a great atmosphere to see a game come down to the final shot. There are the dimmed house lights, the fans jeering “Brook-lyn, Brook-lyn” chants and the somewhat bipartisan crowd that will not only heckle the visiting team but also ooh and ahh with highlight plays as they happen.

They seemed just as excited for Chris Paul’s crossover that sent Deron Williams tumbling as they were for Williams’ move when he returned the favor at the end of the first half.

Unlike a night earlier, the game and the moment (Doc Rivers reuniting with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett) were trumped by the city, the hustle and the food.

The team stays in SoHo. While it’s not the same activity level as a few blocks away in, say, Times Square or Rockefeller Center, there is plenty going on at all hours. I had a steak at a Ralph Lawler-recommended (aka classy and good) restaurant called “Blue Ribbon” well after midnight. The game ended late, thanks to the nationally televised game and 52 free throws by the Clippers, and, as expected, there was traffic crossing the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan. By the time two stories were finished and posted on Clippers.com, it was 1:30 a.m. Good thing New York’s the city that never sleeps.

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It’s impossible not walk around, no matter how chilly the weather is. The cityscape is captivating, an endless sea of buildings and lights. The giant Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza was erected gloriously, reminding me too much of Kevin McAllister. Members of the traveling party scattered throughout the city on Friday morning. It was as though everyone was trying to squeeze as much of New York into a few hours before the bus would sweep everyone to Washington, D.C. A number of people had family members or significant others in town, which meant sightseeing and shopping.

I made my way around SoHo in search of pizza. With so many choices I settled on Ben’s due to proximity. They had traditional slices (cheese and pepperoni) and more exotic ones like baked ziti topping, which is exactly what it sounds like, and salad pizza, which looked like they dumped a side salad of iceberg lettuce, tomato, carrots, cucumber and mushroom on top of tomato sauce and crust.

The neighborhoods and crowds and everything at once sort of feeling is what is both appealing and discerning about the city. I’ve been there three times in a year with the team, and still can be easily awestruck. But in a way the final four east coast stops on the trip garner that feeling in one way or another.

Off to Washington, D.C… we’ll be home soon.

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