Ah, the NBA in New York! I was so happy to see a game at Madison Square Garden on my last trip to the city! Whether you're on holiday in New York or on a business trip, you should definitely go see a basketball game – especially if you're there during the NBA championship.
It's really an amazing experience with a great atmosphere – a show you don't want to miss!
In this article, I explain how to go to an NBA game in New York, where and when to buy your tickets, and also the dates of the next games. When I go to New York, there is sadly not always a game held during my stay. So when I finally had the opportunity to attend an NBA game in New York, I didn't hesitate to try this new experience at all!
Some information about the NBA
The NBA (National Basketball Association) is the largest basketball league in the world. Its championship is also considered the most prestigious.
How the championship works
30 teams, which are divided into two Conferences (Eastern Conference and Western Conference), have a "pre-season" during which Training Camps are organised. The aim is to prepare the players for the season – to observe and evaluate them. During the games, systems of play are also set up.
Then the teams compete in a season called the "regular season". During this season, each team plays 82 matches (41 home + 41 away):
- against the teams in the same division,
- against every team from the other divisions in the same conference,
- against every team from the other conference.
The top eight teams in each conference (16 teams in total) then play each other during the “playoffs”.
Finally, the "finals" take place, in which the best team from both conferences compete.
The champion team of the "NBA Finals" is the team that wins four games first.
NBA New York game schedule 2021-2022 season
To find out the dates of the games, just check the NBA calendar. You can do this on the official NBA website.
Here is the schedule for the 2021-2022 NBA season:
3 to 15 October 2021
19 October 2021 to 10 April 2022
16 April 2022 to early June 2022
June - July 2022
Other games are organised during the year, such as the All Star Game. This annual game pits the best players from the Eastern Conference against those from the Western Conference. This season, the competition took place on 20 February 2022 in Cleveland. The date and place for 2023 hasn’t yet been released.
The 2022 game pit Team "Giannis" (Giánnis Antetokoúnmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks) against Team "Lebron" (LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers). Team Lebron won.
The Christmas Games, held on Christmas Eve, are also big sporting events for Americans.
In New York, which teams play in the NBA?
There are two NBA teams in New York: the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets.
The Knicks are New Yorkers' favourite team. Even though they have only won two titles since the 1970s and are struggling to find better days, they are still a great team with some great moments! The players train in Manhattan and play at Madison Square Garden – a mythical venue!
Among this team’s most famous players are Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Ewing or Willis Reed.
The other team that plays in New York is the Nets. The players have been training in Brooklyn since 2012 and play at the Barclays Center. The team has not won any NBA finals; it has however gained interest since rapper Jay-Z became a minority owner of the club.
Some of this team's best-known players include Jason Kidd, Rick Barry and currently Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
When these two teams meet other prestigious American teams, it can make for some great games. Imagine yourself in Madison Square Garden watching the Knicks play the Los Angeles Lakers (where Lebron James plays), the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics! What a show!
Where to see aN NBA game in New York?
In New York, you can watch an NBA game at either Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center.
For me, this is definitely a must-do activity, especially if you don't know yet what to do in New York during your stay.
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN (MSG)
The MSG is an iconic venue in New York City, and being there truly makes for an unforgettable experience! With its cylindrical shape, it's impossible to pass by without noticing it! In fact, don't hesitate to visit it during your stay in NY.
This gigantic hall (19,000 game seats) has a layout that allows it to host many events. On basketball days, a special floor is installed for the occasion.
Madison Square Garden has hosted some great basketball games in New York, but also some fabulous concerts (The Beatles, Michael Jackson...) and unforgettable boxing matches (Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali...)
On game nights, the MSG is lit up with the colours of the Knicks.
How to get there? The MSG is located at 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, in the heart of Manhattan, next to "Penn Station". The best way to get there is to take the New York Subway System:
- lines A, C or E and get off at 34 Penn Station (8th Avenue)
- lines 1, 2, 3 and get off at 34 Street-Penn Station (7th Avenue)
The Barclays Center is also a very nice stadium, according to some New Yorkers – I haven't had the chance to go there yet.
The venue is said to be even better designed than Madison Square Garden. The Barclays Center, which can seat 19,000 spectators, is located at 620 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn – 25 minutes from Times Square by underground.
How to get there? From Manhattan, take the B underground to the "Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center" stop.
The Barclays Center is home not only to the Nets, but also to an NBA women's basketball team, the New York Liberty, and a hockey team, the New York Islanders.
Concerts (Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, Rihanna...) and shows are also organised there.
If you can't make it to New York to see a game, you can still watch one on your computer! The best way is to take out a subscription (NBA LEAGUE PASS) on the official NBA website. You will also be able to access game summaries, find out about the teams, players (size, country of origin...), compare them to each other, see the best moments and discover a whole bunch of statistics.
How to purchase tickets?
There are two ways to buy tickets for a basketball game in New York:
- purchase at the venue
- online purchase
You can buy your tickets directly from the sports venues' box offices. But be careful: looking for a ticket at the last minute does not guarantee you will find one! Tickets to see the Knicks sell like hotcakes, with only the most expensive (and often very poorly placed) seats remaining for sale. So don't leave it to the last minute, but book well in advance – weeks in advance if possible! It's best to book your seats early because there is a lot of demand: you are in New York!Buying on the spot is therefore a risky gamble that I advise you not to take! In the same way that you have carefully prepared your trip to New York, book your ticket in advance. You will be sure to find a seat, pay a good price and, if you are with other people, be placed together. Not to mention that it will save you time waiting in line at the entrance (time you could spend exploring the city!).
Never buy your ticket from the scalpers near the stadiums! You won't know if they're fake or not, and it's illegal besides.
Indeed, New York law prohibits the resale of tickets within 1,500 feet (460 m) from a stadium. Unlawful resale can be punishable by fine and/or imprisonment!
When you buy your tickets online, you will immediately receive confirmation of your booking in your mailbox.
Your tickets can be either PDFs that you will then print out and present at the reception desk, or electronic tickets with QR codes that you scan on your mobile phone and present on the day of the game.
Prefer the e-ticket
Preferably opt for an electronic ticket! Why? First because it's more practical (your ticket being in digital format, you won’t lose it for it will be in your mailbox), but also because you can save even more money this way! Indeed, sending the physical tickets to your home via a delivery service such as the Post Office or FedEx costs around $40 (£30), whereas the delivery fee for e-tickets is $8 on average (£6).
Don't worry: e-tickets are sent via a secure system (FlashSeats). It protects the barcode of your ticket from being hacked and resold!
And if you haven't received your tickets a few days before your departure, simply contact the company that sold them to you so that they can email them to you and you can print them.
Which websites to buy tickets from?
From the UK, you can buy your tickets directly on the official website of the NBA. You will be redirected to its partner Ticketmaster. Otherwise, there are many platforms like Hellotickets where you can also go. Most sites are obviously in English, and easy to use. And the prices will mostly be in pounds (which can avoid bank charges and the like).
You can also look at private deals on Viagogo: some people like to buy tickets then sell them later to make some profit. Sometimes you can find a great deal – when someone can't go to the match as planned and sells their ticket at the last minute to save money, for example!
When to buy your ticket?
Get your ticket as soon as you know your travel dates to New York! Doing it as early as possible will give you some advantages. You will be able to choose between many basketball games, for example, especially if you stay several days in New York.
Above all, you will be able to choose your seats from home, and of course at the best prices.
Which seats to choose?
At the time of booking (on one of the many NBA ticket sales platforms available), you will be able to choose your seat by clicking on the venue map. Not only will you see the availability, but also the prices for each section.
The best are the courtside seats! Don’t worry though, even if you buy seats at the very top of the sports hall, the visibility will be just as good. No matter where you will be placed, you'll have a great time, because you'll be watching a great event!
What are the ticket prices?
Tickets to see the Brooklyn Nets play are a little cheaper than those to see the NY Knicks, as the Brooklyn Nets team is less prestigious. But the price of a ticket to an NBA game also depends on many criteria:
- the location of the seat: the closer you are to the court, the more expensive the ticket will be (seat prices are based on sections),
- the period: regular season, playoffs..,
- the opposing team: tickets to see a game against a rival team are expensive
You will find below some examples of prices applicable on average for the different periods of the season.
Seats cost between $30 and $80
For $100, you'll get a great seat.
Those are the most accessible rates
For a first match, it's good: both the atmosphere and the show is good are great
You will definitely not see any big basketball stars there (still resting)
Tickets cost a minimum of $80, but can go up to $300 if it's a big game
Tickets are expensive and hard to get
Tickets cost up to over $1,000 and are often already taken by fans/subscribers
You'll be lucky if you manage to get one!
Note that at Madison Square Garden, children must have a ticket from the age of 1, while at Barclays Center, seats are free for children under 86 cm.
Tips & advice for match day
- Try to arrive 45 minutes to an hour before the match: this will give you time to go to the ticket office, to be searched by security staff and even to buy food.
- There are plenty of pizza and hot dog vendors in the corridors of the MSG.... but given the prices inside the stadium, I suggest you buy what you need a few blocks away! You can also take advantage of your presence at the stadium to buy a souvenir: t-shirt, jersey, caps, ball... and many other goodies.
- Don't forget that if you arrive early, you will be able to watch the players' training and discover the pre-game atmosphere: you will see the video of the players' presentation, watch their entrance into the room and listen to the American national anthem sung by a local star (which star it is is always a surprise 😉 !)
For me this part is almost as important as the basketball game itself: there are dancers, surprises, music and a great atmosphere.
There are also a lot of downtimes during the game, which are filled with entertainment that is not to be missed.
Professional cameras, tripods, selfie sticks and laptops are not allowed inside the MSG. However, you can bring a backpack with you.
And this concludes my article on the New York Knicks. I don't know if you have a favorite team, or if you're an NBA or basketball fan at all. I can only really recommend assisting at an NBA match if you're in New York – the atmosphere itself will make the experience worth living!