Knicks to Sell NBA Playoff Tickets Exclusively to Vaccinated Fans If They Advance

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 28, 2021

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 26: Director, Spike Lee celebrates during Round 1, Game 2 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs between the Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks on May 26, 2021 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The New York Knicks announced Friday that tickets for games at Madison Square Garden for the second round of the 2021 NBA playoffs will be sold exclusively to fully vaccinated fans if the team advances past the Atlanta Hawks.

The Athletic @TheAthletic

The Knicks announce that, if they advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals, they will sell tickets in the next round exclusively to fans who are fully vaccinated. pic.twitter.com/fgJ958rOn7

New York and Atlanta split the first two games of the opening round at MSG. Game 5 and a possible Game 7 will take place at the Garden under the previous guidelines, which includes separate sections for vaccinated and unvaccinated fans.

The World's Most Famous Arena was rocking during the first two games of the series, which marked both the Knicks' first playoff appearance since 2013 and one of the best examples of the return of large-scale crowds after 14 months of limited or no attendance at sporting events amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although some of those positive vibes were sullied by a fan spitting on Hawks star Trae Young during Game 2 on Wednesday—the person was banned from the Garden indefinitely the next day—the crowd's energy caught the attention of many, including the Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James:

LeBron James @KingJames

Man it’s LOUD A** HE🏒🏒 in MSG! That joint ROCKIN

Before the playoffs started, MSG Executive Chairman James Dolan appeared at a press conference with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to discuss the increase in crowd size and the importance of vaccinations on the path toward a return to normalcy:

"What was already an incredibly exciting time around Knicks basketball has just gotten even more exciting—and we'd like to thank Governor Cuomo for making it happen. All of those fans for Knicks playoff games are going to be loud, they're going to be passionate and they're going to be ready. The Garden is going to rock. We hope the team gives all of New York something to cheer about, and that this marks the start of a busy summer for the growing number of vaccinated people who can now begin to enjoy more opportunities to celebrate together—at our venues and beyond."

The latest numbers from the New York City Department of Health show 61.4 percent of adults in the country's most populous city have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 52.3 percent are fully vaccinated, a term reserved for those who have had their final shot for at least two weeks.

Unvaccinated fans who have attended the Knicks' first two games against the Hawks have been required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test for entry.

Game 5 at the Garden is scheduled for Wednesday, and a potential Game 7 would take place June 6.

The second round, when the new MSG guidelines would go into place, would begin a few days after the opening round concludes.