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Anthony Donahue among Knicks fans returning to MSG

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Roughly 2,000 Knicks fans will be in attendance at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night for the first time in 352 days since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown began last March, and an emotional Anthony Donahue will be among them.

Donahue, a season-ticket holder for nearly 20 years and a hardcore Knicks fan since he was in fourth grade in 1994, suffered the loss of his 21-year-old sister Gianna Gregoire to brain cancer in August.

“It’s been a long 11 months. For me personally it’s been a long year and a half,” the 37-year-old Donahue told The Post on Monday. “During the whole season last year, it was one of the first years in my life where I didn’t even care if the Knicks won or lost. I was still going to every game, and going to the Garden was such a support system. It’s going to be very emotional walking in that building on Tuesday night.

“I’ve been at almost every home game for the last 20 years, and I’ve been going to games the last 26. I really don’t know what to expect. But I am excited about being there and watching this team live, finally. It’s my favorite place in the world, so it will be very emotional.”

Anthony Donahue, sister Gianna Gregoire and Knicks announcer Mike Breen, at MSG before a game vs Boston on Dec.  1, 2019.
Anthony Donahue, sister Gianna Gregoire and Knicks announcer Mike Breen, at MSG before a game vs Boston on Dec. 1, 2019.
Anthony Donahue

The 37-year-old Donahue will attend Tuesday’s game against Stephen Curry and the Warriors with close friend Elgin Swift. The 46-year-old Manhattan resident first met Donahue while donating items and services for a fundraiser auction on Gianna’s behalf in 2011.

“She was such a big part of Knicks nation, too,” Donahue said of Gianna. “She had beaten brain cancer initially when she was 12, and she was my whole world. I raised her like a parent and took her to Knicks games since she was 4 years old. Everybody watched her grow up there.”

Swift was furloughed from his job with Audi last March, and he now works as a wholesale director at a tech start-up called Rodo, an app for selling and leasing cars online.

“Oh man, it’s been a dreadful year, sitting in the house every day, and even when I come into the office,” Swift said. “I work right across the street from the Garden at 1 Penn Plaza. I’m looking at it right now. I’m very excited to be going back, especially with Anthony. Combined with the fact that the team actually is enjoyable to watch again, makes it even better.”

Both Donahue and Swift believe the Knicks, 15-16 under first-year coach Tom Thibodeau, have been the type of hardworking, defense-oriented team New York fans already have embraced.

“I bleed orange and blue. I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been a tough go for most of the last 20 years. But there’s nothing like walking into the Garden when the team is competitive,” Donahue said.

“You can look forward to the games again. It’s, ‘All right, the Knicks play tonight, I’m locked in. Don’t bother me,’ ” added Swift, who said his fandom dates back to “Micheal Ray Richardson days” in the early 1980s. “It’s really been one of the more pleasant surprises in my years of being a fan.

“The expectations were not high. I thought they would be better, but they have played well above their heads. It’s obviously a case of having a good coach, too. I think this is clearly where you look at someone who knows how to coach and how he wants to coach and getting the players to play the way he wants them to play. I think as New Yorkers we tend to admire effort, and that’s how we define if we like you or get behind you. I think that’s part of who they are and the coaching that [Thiibodeau] has instilled in them.”

The friends will be seated in Section 212 Tuesday night, not their regular seats closer to the court, due to the need for fans to be socially distanced throughout the lower and upper bowls due to COVID-19.

On this night, however, location doesn’t matter. They will be back in the building, the Knicks’ first home game with fans since March 8 of last year against Detroit.

Anthony Donahue (left) and Elgin Swift at a Knicks game last season.
Anthony Donahue (left) and Elgin Swift at a Knicks game last season.
Elgin Swift

“I think we are headed in the right direction, finally,” said Donahue, a Bronx native who used to host a Knicks-based show for SNY. “So many times over the years, we’ve tried to take shortcuts, and make crazy trades. But we’re doing it the right way, finally.

“I’ve said so many times over the last 20 years, if you put out a product that plays hard and competes, these fans will be fully behind that. I’m really excited about this team and the way it plays. You’d have the old-school signs with the ‘D’ and the ‘Fence.’ You’d have “defense” chants during the layup line with the way this team plays D.

“We know it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not a championship team yet, but this is a team Knicks fans have been waiting for, for a long time. It’s finally a team we can really get behind and it definitely will be nice to be a part of it again, inside the arena.”

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Bulls’ Zach LaVine called cops on ‘obsessed’ fan at his home

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Zach LaVine had an unwanted visitor.

The Chicago Bulls star had to call the police after an “allegedly obsessed” woman showed up to his Chicago home and refused to leave on Thursday night, according to TMZ. 

The woman reportedly traveled from out of state, demanding to speak with the first-time All-Star, who was home at the time.

Police took her a local hospital for mental evaluation, and she has not been formally arrested or charged with a crime.

LaVine, 25, wrapped up first-half action with the Bulls on Wednesday and was drafted to Kevin Durant’s All-Star side for Sunday’s festivities in Atlanta.

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Blake Griffin a free agent after Pistons buyout

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Blake Griffin will be free to sign with the Nets or another interested NBA team after agreeing to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons.

The six-time All-Star forward “has interest from most of the NBA’s top playoff contenders and is expected to make a decision on his next team after conversations with prospective teams,” ESPN reported.

The Nets, Lakers, Heat, Warriors and Clippers – his former team — are among those that have expressed interest, according to the New York Times. ESPN.com added that the Blazers are interested

The 31-year-old Griffin hasn’t played since Feb. 12 while the Pistons attempted to trade him before the March 25 deadline, but they found no takers due to the remainder of his $36.6 million salary for this season and the $39 million he’s owed for 2021-22.

Blake Griffin was released by the Pistons on March 5, 2021
Blake Griffin was released by the Pistons on March 5, 2021
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Griffin is averaging a career-low 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20 games this season. He was dealt by the Clippers to Detroit in 2018, during the first season of a five-year extension worth $171 million.



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Broncos send a pretty strong warning to Drew Lock

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Drew Lock is no lock to remain the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback in 2021.

General manager George Paton and coach Vic Fangio both said Thursday that the team expects to bring in competition for Lock, possibly with the ninth pick in the NFL Draft.

“Obviously we’re always looking to bring in players at all positions that can raise the level of competition, and the quarterback is no different in that regard,” Fangio said, according to the team’s website.

“Until we get or until Drew proves to be the next great quarterback, like the ones that the Denver franchise has been used to in years past or certain teams around the league … are used to, we’re going to always try and bring in competition. But I have confidence that Drew can continue to improve.”

Lock made 13 starts in 2020 and tied with Carson Wentz for the league lead with 15 interceptions. He finished 32nd in the league among qualifying quarterbacks with a 75.4 passer rating, ahead of only Dwayne Haskins, Wentz and Sam Darnold.

Drew Lock faces the Patriots on October 18, 2020.
Drew Lock faces the Patriots on October 18, 2020.
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“Very talented, was inconsistent at times, has a lot to work on,” Paton said Thursday. “But I’ve spoken with Drew, I see him every day. He’s here early. He’s working. He really wants to be great. And we’re always going to try to bring in competition at every position, and quarterback as well. But I like the track that Drew’s on.”

Lock, the Broncos’ second-round pick in 2019 out of Missouri, had started five games as a rookie, winning four of them. Denver went 4-9 with him as the starter last season.

“I’m confident that Drew’s going to continue to improve,” Fangio said. “Drew’s had a great offseason up to this point. There’s not a lot you can do, but he’s working hard on his own, coming over here and getting workouts, and I know he’s doing a lot at home by himself, watching video by himself. He’s got a good setup over there. And he’s doing anything and everything he can to improve, even in February and now in March.”

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