NEW YORK -- As New York slowly recovers from Hurricane Sandy, some feel that allowing the Knicks' season opener against the Miami Heat to be played Friday night will help lift the spirits of citizens, but Heat guard Dwyane Wade says it's not appropriate for the game to go on.
"I just felt that (there were) bigger things to be concerned about than us being here to play a basketball game," Wade said after the Heat's shootaround Friday at Madison Square Garden. "Obviously, sports ... takes people's minds away from things, but I think there are bigger things that need to be done here in this city."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in conjunction with the NBA, decided to postpone the Knicks' season opener against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday at the Barclays Center in the wake of the storm. But the league and the mayor have decided to proceed with Heat-Knicks at the Garden on Friday night.
Bloomberg did decide late Friday afternoon to cancel the New York City Marathon, which was scheduled for Sunday.
The Madison Square Garden Company announced Friday it will donate $500,000 and host a telethon on the MSG Network to support the relief efforts in Sandy's aftermath.
MSG executive chairman James Dolan said he hopes the Knicks' season opener against the Heat can be a brief diversion from the devastation left by the hurricane.
"It's a big game. It's good for New York," Dolan, who rarely speaks with the media, told a small group of reporters before the Knicks won 104-84. "A lot of people told me they were either coming or watching on TV. It will give people something to cheer about and take their minds off of things for a few hours."
Wade plans to donate his earnings from Friday's game to Sandy's relief efforts, according to ESPN's Rachel Nichols. His game check could be as much as $200,000.
Some Heat and Knicks players have mixed emotions about playing Friday.
"I think we're all in agreeance when we say getting everything situated and getting everything back up running from the hurricane is more important than the basketball game," LeBron James said. "But there's also people that 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. I'm happy to be here to play a basketball game, but if the people that (are) here at the basketball game or the people that (are) helping out with this game could give their efforts to make the city run and make these families come out of the situation, then I think that's more important."
Knicks guard Ronnie Brewer also isn't sure about the merits of playing basketball in the aftermath of the storm.
"I mean, it's hard to say. It's just a game," Brewer said. "... There's people without electricity, people without homes, people who lost loved ones. So I still think our heart goes out to them. We've got to focus on the task at hand. Hopefully this game can uplift some people and give some people in New York something to cheer about.
"You know, after that game it goes back to real life. There's still people in New York struggling and still need some relief. I think that's important."
The Heat flew into Newark Airport on Thursday night and traveled to their hotel in New York shortly after landing. The bus ride from the airport to the hotel -- normally a 20-30-minute ride without traffic -- took approximately three hours because of the bottleneck at entry points into Manhattan.
Wade on Thursday sent a tweet from his verified account that read, "3 hour traffic just to get into the NY city... #C'monMan." He was criticized by some who perceived the tweet to be insensitive. He later clarified his remarks by saying that he thought the game should not be played.
"We deal with traffic all the time," Wade said. "It was more so that this city is dealing with so much. If we're in the car and we're in traffic for three hours ... what are the other people that are really affected by this, what are they doing? How are they getting around? How are they moving?
"It was just like, 'C'mon man. We shouldn't be here to play a basketball game. If anything, we should be here to do something to help the city.'"