James, fans torn over playing game
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK — Miami Heat forward LeBron James was split.
Half of him understood that playing a game against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden Friday might provide needed respite from people affected the disaster caused by the storm. The other half of him understood those – specifically his teammate Dwyane Wade – who felt the game should not have been played.
“I mean sports does allow people for a few hours here to get away from situations that may not be so bright at the time, and this may be one of those instances where we can provide that for a lot of families that’s here,” James said prior to the game. “They’ll just kind of get their mind off the devastation that has hit this area this past week.
“I think we’re all in agreement when we say that getting everything situated and getting everything back running from the hurricane is more important than a basketball game. But there’s also people who believe that we need this basketball game for a lot of spirits and a lot of families, so I’m kind of 50-50 with it as well.”
Still, the impact of the storm did not seem to deter fans from attending the Knicks’ season opener. Spectators packed the upper bowl at Madison Square Garden, and the lower bowl – the expensive seats – was nearly full, just a scattering of empty seats here and there.
Before the game began, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony addressed the crowd: “Thank you for coming out in hard times and supporting the New York Knicks. This is the most important time for the city of New York to come together and rebuild the city.”
But there were plenty who shared James’ 50-50 sentiment. It held true on Manhattan sidewalks in front of Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, where the almost-normal rush of car and foot traffic passed. Outside the Garden, hundreds of Knicks fans breezed through a line for free Knicks T-shirts.
Tyon Reid, 32, took the 6 train downtown from the Bronx. He left early just in case he encountered transportation issues. He … [For more on LeBron James, fans torn over playing Heat-Knicks game, click here.]