It was an emotional opening night for the New York Knicks. It was the game that had to be played. After the devastating effects Hurricane Sandy plunged the Big Apple into uncertainty – forcing the postponement of the much anticipated game with the Brooklyn Nets – the city needed some relief from the week long crisis. Even if it was just for a few hours. From the moment Anthony took the microphone at the beginning of the night to acknowledge the city's plight, right through to the final buzzer, the Knicks did their part to help make New Yorker's forget their troubles.
Prior to the game Knicks fans were upbeat. If anything, New Yorkers are a resilient people who have learned to come together in tough times regardless of differences. Long-time New York fan, Paul Zoufaly from Long Island, was glad the game wasn't canceled. "It's New York baby. We'll get through it. I've been here [Madison Square Garden] for the last twenty-years, New Yorker's are survivors."
Another fan said the limited public transport didn't stop her from coming to the game. "I carpooled with a bunch of people from work. We came from Brooklyn, it's crazy to get here from Brooklyn so we all just got into the car. It [the game] is something to take your mind off what's been going on."
The Knicks didn't let the home-town fans down either, defeating the Miami Heat by coasting to a wire-to-wire win. The tone was set from the moment Raymond Felton scored the game's opening bucket on a fierce drive with 1:09 elapsed in the quarter. From there the Knicks never looked back, they were aggressive on the defensive end (10 steals, 10 fastbreak points), shared the ball (27 team assists), always looking for the extra pass (sometimes to a fault), and they definitely made the Heat pay for slow rotations to the perimeter (19/36 from distance).
Carmelo Anthony, the unquestioned leader of this new look Knick team, was instrumental in orchestrating the offense. He led by example as if the game meant more than just being the first of 82. This game was for the The City.
After the game Melo alluded to the team being conscious of what a win could do for a wounded New York City.
"Over the last couple of days, we didn't even know if this game was going to be played. Then before the game we look up and they say they canceled the (New York City) Marathon, so it was like, we have to go out there and play," Anthony said. "So today was something to give New York a couple hours of some peace. Come to the game, support us. We gave them a good show out there tonight, that's the least that we can do."
That was a common theme throughout the winner's locker room last night, relieving the crowd of their troubles. Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler all mentioned being conscious of the events leading up to the game. Kurt Thomas, a seasoned NBA veteran, said it felt good to get a win.
"Without a doubt. For everyone in New York, Jersey, all along the East Coast, so it was just good to give the fans – the city of New York – something else to think about. Even if it was for just two hours. It definitely was a lot of fun out there. It was exciting," Thomas said.
Now the team looks ahead. A game with Philadelphia at home on Sunday afternoon is their next outing, another chance to keep the feel-good storyline going another few days, but it was that one night at The Garden that helped New Yorkers move forward from the destruction of the hurricane. The Knicks did their part for the city, even if was just for a few hours.
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