NEW YORK — As COVID-19 recovery continues, NBA fans returned to local arenas Tuesday.
It had been 350 days since basketball fans in New York got to see their teams play in person, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo cleared the way for fans to return in a limited capacity. The Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks are allowed to have 10% capacity inside their arenas, though at Barclays Center, the Nets held a soft launch with just 300 fans for Tuesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings.
Steve Adelsberg has been a Nets season ticketholder for 32 years.
“I’m seeing James Harden, the big three [Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant] with 300 people, it’s like going to a high school game,” Adelsberg said before going into the arena.
After getting vaccinated, he wasn’t going to miss the chance to see his team in action, even after beating his own case of the coronavirus last year.
“I waited a long time to see a really good team, and now I get the COVID, I don’t think so!”
Inside, Adelsberg and all 300 fans received a rapid test before being allowed to find their socially distant seats. While facemasks may have dampened some of the cheers, even just 300 fans were a welcome sight for the Nets and Coach Steve Nash who returned from a western road trip on a six-game winning streak.
“Obviously, we’ve been playing in empty stadiums for the most part, at least at home,” Nash said. “So, to have some fans and a little bit of life and energy will be nice and hopefully we can safely incorporate more fans as we go here.”
Over at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks welcomed back 2,000 fans for their game against Golden State. All fans were required to have proof of negative PCR test within 72 hours of the game. Before the game, newly named all-star Julius Randle welcomed the crowd back as they chanted MVP.
RJ Barrett said he was looking forward to finally getting the opportunity to play in front of the home crowd.
“Nothing compares to when you have fans at the Garden, so I’m just excited for that,” Barrett said.
Regardless of which team you’re cheering for, Adelsberg says we’re all on the same team when it comes to beating COVID and resuming life as we knew it.
“We got to get past this, everyone’s got to get vaccinated, we got to be healthy and we’re in this together,” he said.