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La Cage aux Joueurs: The Secret New York Alternative to the New York Knicks

Court seats at Madison Square Garden go for $1600/ticket, but there's a way to get even closer to the action without spending a penny.
02/13/2008 06:28pm ET | Updated November 17, 2011
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With their huge paychecks, pristine gear and
endorsement deals, do you ever feel like professional
basketball players are losing their edge?

Court seats at Madison Square Garden go for
$1600/ticket, but there's a way to get even closer to
the action without spending a penny. It's called
"streetball" and one of the most famous courts in NYC
is in the West Village.

"The Cage" on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 4th
Street is about half the size of a regulation
basketball court. Fans oblivious to the pedestrian
traffic stand clutching the fence, looking for the
next Anthony Mason or Smush Parker, who were both once
regulars. Reviewers on www.basketballnyc.com give The
Cage high "prison yard" ratings of physicality,
meaning that showmanship is more important than
sportsmanship.

Think of Gray's Papaya one block north as your
concession stand. Its iconic $1.25 franks beat out the
$6 MSG variety any day of the week.

If you're equal parts skilled, brave and patient you
can try to get in on one of the pick up games, but
rusty first timers won't last (as in, they'll be told
to leave). Fortunately the court is open 24 hours a
day, so if you have a basketball, a nocturnal buddy
(in my case Matt Millman) and some steam to burn, just
show up in the middle of the night and it's all yours.

The court happens to be located in one of the most
charming and historically rich neighborhoods of the
city, Greenwich Village, which is featured in my
charming and historically rich walking tour book
Secret New York.