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A Young Sportswriter Spends a Night at the Garden
Shawn Dove
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My ambition is to become a sportswriter, an occupation that requires brains, quick thinking, and patience. Naturally, I was thrilled when given the chance to be a sportswriter for a night. I was involved in a two week internship with The New York Times. That's how I landed this golden opportunity. I covered the New York Knicks vs. the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, March 13. My chosen assignment was a profile on Earl Monroe. When the night was over, I was convinced that sports writing was the life I wanted.

The night didn't start smoothly. I was supposed to pick up a ticket and a press pass at Window 11 in the Garden lobby. The man at the window told me, "Sorry, there's nothing here for Shawn Dove." I panicked. Was my first night as a sports writer destined to be a disaster? Fortunately for me, Eric Lincoln, a sportswriter for The Times, met me at the Garden and cleared up the ticket mess. I then went to the press lounge on the second floor of the Garden. I was an unfamiliar face in a sea of familiar faces. Amateur was written all over me, but I tried to act like a cool veteran sportswriter.

There were two big rooms in the lounge, a workroom and a bar. Both rooms had color televisions tuned to a telecast of the Indiana-Purdue college basketball game. Because Indiana vs. New York is not an NBA classic, few writers covered the game. I was introduced to Sam Goldpaper, the basketball writer for The Times. I envy Mr. Goldpaper -- I wish I had a job covering my favorite sport -- basketball.

From Writer to Fan

After a quick Coke, I was ready to start working. The game was scheduled to start at 8:10. I didn't have a seat in press row, but one right behind it. What more could I ask for?

The game turned out to be typical Knick basketball. After a slow start the Knicks managed a 30-28 first quarter lead. The Knicks got hot in the second quarter, outscoring Indiana 31-23 to take a 61-51 halftime lead. The Knicks had prepared their fans for a big letdown--their specialty. They went into one of their patented dry spells in the third quarter and gave the game away. Although the score was tied at 81 at the end of the third quarter, Indiana had the momentum and went on to win 107-100.

As I was walking down to the Knicks' locker room for a post-game interview with Earl Monroe several thoughts flashed through my mind. What if Earl Monroe doesn't want to talk to me? Suppose he doesn't like my questions? What if I choke?

In the locker room most of the writers gathered around the Knicks' Michael Ray Richardson as he tried to explain the loss. Monroe consented to an interview after he took a shower. The sportswriters moved briskly around the locker room jotting down notes. Although the Knicks lost, there was still a pleasant atmosphere in the locker room. I got my interview with Monroe, and when it was over the fan inside of me took over. I asked for a couple of autographs from various players. Ray Williams refused to give me an autograph--sore loser.

In the press lounge ten minutes later, sportswriters were busy making deadlines. They all had their own opinions on why the Knicks lost.

Every sportswriter in the lounge gave me the impression that he loved his work. It was then that I was certain that I wanted to be a sportswriter. There's no stereotype of a sportswriter. I came across young ones, old ones, writers in shoes, and writers in sneakers. The sports writing world is a fascinating one which I want to be a part of. I hope my night at the Garden was a taste of better things to come.

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(NYC-1980-05-03b)

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