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It finally happened. It took almost a year, but we finally got to see fans back at Madison Square Garden for a Knicks game on Tuesday night.
Though the game didn't go the way the Knicks had hoped, losing to the Golden State Warriors, 114-106, the atmosphere in the arena was something the team had been missing at home games all season long.
Cheers, boos, and just about any noise from the 2,000 fans in attendance gave the game a different feel, a feel that had been lost in New York since their last home game on March 8, 2020. Just a week after that game, the NBA suspended its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even the likes of actor Tracy Morgan and former Giants star Justin Tuck were able to get MSG's celebrity row back in the swing of things with their first appearances of the season.
"It was great," Tom Thibodeau said after the game. "I know it was only 2,000 fans...but it's great to have them back and we certainly appreciate their support."
Derrick Rose, who hadn't gotten to truly be welcomed back to the Knicks organization by the fans until Tuesday night, added that he felt the spirit and energy of the fans in the arena during the game.
"Right from the jump, you could tell that they were excited," Rose said. "The way they were cheering for [Julius Randle], I mean, you kind of forget how much energy you get or the bounce that you get when fans are in the building.
"So we hope that things keep improving and we hope that they keep letting more fans in, because you could just tell that the city is excited and ready to come to some games."
Fan certainly cheered for Randle, who was named to his first career All-Star game just an hour or so before tip-off, throughout the game. "MVP" chants rained down on Randle before the game as well, when he addressed the crowd for the first time this season.
"It was really special, it was surreal in a sense," Randle said of those MVP chants. "Everything you could dream of, and it all came to fruition. It was amazing, honestly, and everything that I signed up for and goals that I wrote down when I decided I wanted to come here and play for the Knicks. It's all happening.
"It was definitely an amazing moment, a lot of emotion for me and for my family, and it was definitely special for sure."