Michael Jordan back at Madison Square Garden

Michael Jordan smiles during the 2009 Jordan Brand Classic. (Danny Wild/MaxPreps)

One of the perks of being a famous sports photographer is I get to hang out with bigshots like this guy above.

Spike Lee. (Danny Wild/MaxPreps)

OK, not really. But I do get the opportunity each spring to cover the annual Jordan Brand Classic at Madison Square Garden here in New York. For a kid who grew up watching the Knicks and Rangers battle at the Garden, it’s pretty much a dream to be able to cover an event here, nevermind one where Michael Jordan himself is sitting a few seats away courtside.

The Jordan Brand Classic is MJ’s annual All-Star game for the best high school seniors in the nation. Last year it featured MJ’s own son, Marcus (no bias there I’m sure…) Jordan’s clothing line — you’ve seen it, the familiar ‘jumpman’ logo — is the main sponsor, and the event brings in a whole list of big names, essentially to be seen and photographed by schmos like me.

Last year it was Spike Lee, Fat Joe, Akon, some other celebs I’m not hip enough to recognize.

Brooklyn HS stud Lance Stephenson was there as well, although he was a notable snub from the roster.

Anyway, Saturday is the 2010 game, and after I catch the Yankees and Rangers up in the Bronx, I’m heading down to MSG to cover this contest again, which will be live on ESPN2.

Madison Square Garden hosts the Jordan Brand Classic. (Danny Wild/MaxPreps)

You can pretty much see my view right here in this shot above — that’s not courtside, it’s actually on the court. I gotta sit legs-folded so I don’t get stepped on. I’m hoping to get this same spot tomorrow, it gives you a perfect angle on the celebs over in that right corner.

Michael Jordan's son, Marcus, competes in the 2009 game. (Danny Wild/MaxPreps)

I need to deliver, too — I’m again covering this game for MaxPreps.com, which is part of the CBS Sports network and is a partner with Sports Illustrated, meaning whatever stuff I get from this could wind up in SI.

That, of course, is the ultimate goal for any sports photographer.

The event is split up over the afternoon and features three games: a regional contest consisting of New York and New Jersey All-Stars, an international game, which features kids no one cares about, and the main All-American game, which will begin at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. It’s usually pretty well attended too.

Here’s a preview of the game, including the rosters for the East and West squads.

Hip-hop star Common will perform during halftime… I’m actually pretty pumped for that, I like Common.

Jordan, in the two years I’ve gone, sits about seven rows back with some friends, usually arriving just before the final game is about to begin.

It’s going to be a long day; I’ll be leaving Yankee Stadium around 4 p.m. and taking a crowded downtown D subway to 59th Street, where I can switch to a downtown A and get way downtown to the MLB.com office in Chelsea, where my equipment is. Then it’s back on the A-C-E to 34th Street, where I’ll have to run outside and through the media entrance, grab this rickety old freight elevator upstairs to court-level, and stake out a spot on the baseline with my gear. I’m hoping I can get there during the international game, since no one will bother to shoot it.

The Garden is just incredible to shoot in — not only a great venue, but such an unbelievably historic place.

MSG
The Jordan Brand Classic will be live on ESPN2 Sat. April 17. (Danny Wild/MaxPreps)

For more info and how to get tickets for this great event, check out Nike’s website:

http://www.nike.com/jumpman23/classic/

And check out MaxPreps.com and SportsIllustrated.com tomorrow night for some of my photos!

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