NBA Opener At Barclays Center Postponed After Hurricane; MSG Still On For Friday
The NBA yesterday “accepted” N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recommendation that the Nets' first-ever regular-season NBA game at Barclays Center scheduled for tonight "be postponed because of Hurricane Sandy’s lingering effects on the public transportation system,” according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The NBA’s “initial optimism -- expressed Tuesday in a tweet that said, ‘Knicks-Nets game will be played as scheduled this Thursday at 7 p.m.’ -- followed hopeful remarks by Bloomberg earlier that day when he said he hoped that the game would be played and that he expected to attend.” But expectations that the game would proceed were “eventually overwhelmed by the city’s assessment of the subway and rail obstacles created by the hurricane.” Bloomberg said that the “decision to seek the postponement ‘was all up to me.’” NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said that the league was also “swayed by traffic reports that it was extremely difficult to maneuver in Downtown Brooklyn.” Silver said, “But ultimately, it was the mayor’s call.” Barclays Center and Nets CEO Brett Yormark said that he "would try to reschedule the game for a date before the end of the year." Sandomir notes the NBA “prefers not to postpone games; it has previously postponed 11 regular-season games since 2000, primarily because of severe weather or weather-related travel problems.” Additionally, the Knicks’ practice facility in Greenburgh, N.Y., "had a power outage for an hour” yesterday, while the Nets’ facility in East Rutherford, N.J., has “been without power since the storm hit, with its first floor flooded.” Nets coach Avery Johnson said that the facility “might not be available for two weeks” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/1). Yormark prior to Bloomberg’s announcement yesterday morning “went on WFAN to laud the decision to play the game, urging New Yorkers to use it as a source of inspiration.” He also said that “e-mails from season ticket holders indicated fans ‘overwhelmingly’ wanted" to play the game Thursday (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/1).
GOOD CALL: In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan writes under the header, “Mayor Bloomberg Made Right Decision On Knicks-Nets Game.” Post-hurricane N.Y. is “a place where sports do not yet belong.” Bloomberg “did the right thing” in postponing the game, “correctly realizing how frivolous the image of a half-empty Barclays Center would appear in the midst of the sad, haunting pictures of damage.” Sullivan: “Now it’s time for him to do the same with Sunday’s New York City Marathon” (Bergen RECORD, 11/1). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Jason Gay writes under the header, “The Right Basketball Call” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/1). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence writes NBA Commissioner David Stern “doesn’t normally take orders.” But when Bloomberg called yesterday “to say he thought that the league should postpone Brooklyn’s big night ... the commissioner did the right thing” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/1). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser praised the decision, saying, "You cannot get in or out of New York City and I don’t think you should have a gala opening at a brand-new arena if it’s going to be half-full because people can’t get there." ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “In terms of the city’s mood, I’m sure people are preoccupied with more important things than basketball right now” ("PTI," ESPN, 10/31). ESPN N.Y.’s Ian O’Connor wrote, “If David Stern thought playing basketball in the immediate wake of Hurricane Sandy would be a great way to kick off his retirement tour as NBA commissioner, he should have retired a long time ago.” The choice to play the game “despite the fatalities, injuries and cataclysmic loss of property suffered in the region might not have matched Pete Rozelle's decision to play football after President Kennedy's assassination, but it would've been close enough” (ESPNNY.com, 10/31).
KNICKS-HEAT FRIDAY STILL ON: In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman notes Friday's Heat-Knicks game "would be played as scheduled.” Yesterday an NBA team official “explained privately that the league's policy for whether games are to be played comes down to whether two teams, three referees and a playable court are available.” The game “appears to meet such criteria, with no reported structural damage at Madison Square Garden” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/1). USA TODAY’s Jeff Zillgitt writes MSG “doesn’t face the same public transportation issues as Barclays Center, which relies heavily on mass transit.” There is “more parking in midtown Manhattan, although it could still be a struggle for fans to attend the game” (USA TODAY, 11/1). However, in West Palm Beach, Ethan Skolnick noted after postponing Knicks-Nets, the NBA “ought to do the same" with Heat-Knicks. Skolnick: “The idea of sending another team into New York City now -- or that city forced to deploy any resources at all to the game -- is ludicrous” (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 10/31).
SUPPLY & DEMAND: Brooklyn-based secondary ticket outlet Charged.fm Chief Innovation Officer Yves Darbouze said that fans seeking tickets for Heat-Knicks “can cop them for a relative bargain.” Darbouze said, “Some people are gunshy in the secondary market now. They’re worried they can’t get to the game. This year’s opener is nowhere near where it should be.” Darbouze said that “his site alone has nearly 100 tickets left and a total of 2,604 are floating on secondary markets for just one-third higher than face value.” In N.Y., Marc Berman notes the tickets “range from $191 to $1,352, very low for a Garden season opener” (N.Y. POST, 11/1).
EXIT TO BROOKLYN: In N.Y., Howard Beck writes the Nets’ arrival in N.Y. has “spawned a new breed of fan: the Knicks-to-Nets defector.” Beck: “They are the disillusioned, the angry, the hopeful. And their numbers appear to be growing, based on social media and anecdotal accounts.” But there is “no Gallup Poll for team allegiance, so the trend is hard to quantify.” Nets officials said that they “are not keeping track.” But “this much is known: The Nets have sold nearly 11,000 full-season tickets, triple the number from last season.” Most are “coming from Brooklyn (37 percent), Manhattan (23 percent) and Nassau County (6 percent).” It is “doubtful they all became basketball fans overnight, or were closet Nets fans all along.” It is “more likely that a great number are, in fact, Knicks apostates” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/1).