Former Duke big man Marshall Plumlee made his NBA debut for the New York Knicks on Sunday, logging five minutes and collecting one defensive rebound in a win against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden.
But just getting to the game on time proved to be the more challenging task for the 24-year-old, who arrived at the arena midway through the first quarter after sprinting through the Manhattan streets because his cab from Grand Central Terminal was stuck in bad traffic.
As the New York Daily News explained, Plumlee received a call at 10 a.m. on Sunday from the Knicks, telling him they they needed him to suit up because Joakim Noah was sick.
Plumlee signed as an undrafted free agent with the Knicks NBA Development League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks, and lives outside the city in Westchester. On Saturday, he had scored 22 points in a win for the Westchester Knicks, and he had reportedly stayed up until midnight working out in a gym with his brother, Mason, who was in town as the Blazers played the Nets.
When the phone call came, Plumlee said he hopped on an express Metro North train, since he lives near the station. But after arriving in Manhattan, he made the mistake of taking a cab and found himself parked in midtown traffic.
“The way it worked out from my GPS it said the train was faster. I caught the express, I live right next to the train station. Then I caught a cab,” Plumlee said after the game.
After paying his cabbie to run some red lights — “apparently that’s $60,” Plumlee said — he eventually got out and made the final few blocks on foot.
“I was booking it,” Plumlee said. “I sprinted over as fast as I could. … My phone was blowing up: ‘Are you almost here? Are you almost here?’ I don’t think they realise those texts just slow you down so I put the phone away.”
He went on: “Sprinting through the city, I got here, they said, ‘Hey, do you need a warmup?’ I said, ‘No, I’m already warm. I ran here.'”
During the game, Plumlee had the unfortunate task of guarding Hawks center Dwight Howard. At one point, Atlanta’s Kent Bazemore started visibly laughing at Plumlee’s attempts to guard Howard, and then threw Howard an easy alley-oop.
Plumlee seemingly still has much to learn — about basketball, and about New York City. Next time, perhaps he will consider the subway.
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