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Wolves' Cole Aldrich on best, worst of playing in New York

NEW YORK -- Cole Aldrich took a different route back to the Timberwolves' hotel than his teammates after the group attended the play "Hamilton" in New York City during a road trip earlier this season.

NEW YORK - Cole Aldrich took a different route back to the Timberwolves' hotel than his teammates after the group attended the play "Hamilton" in New York City during a road trip earlier this season.

As the rest of the Wolves piled into the bus, Aldrich made his way to the subway station to purchase a $2.75 ticket.

"I went down, got my ticket and hopped on the subway and got off a block and a half away from the hotel," said Aldrich, who arrived at the hotel well before the team bus.

Aldrich knows his way around New York, and when the Timberwolves make their lone trip to of the season to Madison Square Garden to face the Knicks on Friday night, he'll be no stranger.

Aldrich played two seasons for the Knicks, from 2013-15. He called it as an experience like no other.

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"This is my sixth team in seven years, so I've kind of seen a lot - big cities, the small cities, good teams, bad teams," Aldrich said. "New York is just a different city. It's that big city where you're under the lights all the time."

That comes with positives and negatives.

Aldrich said there's no place like Madison Square Garden, which is packed with "diehard" fans on a nightly basis.

"It's tough to win there, but when you win there, the people love," Aldrich said. "They absolutely love you."

And even when you lose, they still show up.

That held true in 2014, when the Knicks made a late rally that ended just one game short of a playoff spot, and again in 2015, when the Knicks were a dreadful 17-65.

"When you're 8-47, the Garden is still sold out, and it's incredible," Aldrich said. "But those fans will let you know how they feel. They'll boo you; they'll say whatever they want to. But that's the fun in New York."

The Bloomington (Minn.) Jefferson grad acknowledged he probably was booed personally a few times, along with the team. He said he likely appeared on TNT's Shaqtin a Fool segment a few times during his stint in New York.

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"But for me, it doesn't really bother me," Aldrich said.

There are other difficult things about playing in New York. Traffic, for one, isn't great. Aldrich said when construction picked up toward the end of the season, it could take 90 minutes to get home.

"It was terrible," Aldrich said.

New York is filled with distractions, with different events going on every evening. Staying busy isn't a problem; staying focused can be.

"I think you've got to be the guy that kind of puts (everything and everyone else) off to the side and says OK, I need to focus on my job and focus on what we need to do to win," Aldrich said. "Some guys are good at it. Some guys aren't."

And the New York media was a different animal.

"They'll find their way around stuff and talk to people that may not know anything about anything," Aldrich said, "but they always try to find their way in."

Still, Aldrich enjoyed his time with the Knicks. He said home games were like a show, comparable only to Lakers games at Staples Center. He said it's every kid's dream to play at the Garden.

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And while some people struggle with big cities, Aldrich thrived. He said it took about half a season to figure out how the city ticked, but once he deciphered the way things worked, everything came easy. He went to as many different restaurants as possible and he and his wife often navigated the city via subway.

"You get on the subway and somebody recognizes you and they're just great people," Aldrich said. "Just a collective group of so many different people in one city. And they're all kind of like, 'Alright, we're in it together.'"

Aldrich said his time with the Knicks prepared him for "a lot - good and bad," moving forward in his career. But one of the main takeaways from his time with the club was a major positive.

"I love New York," Aldrich said. "It was fun."

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