The Nets’ regular-season debut in Brooklyn will have to wait. The New York City Marathon, however, is good to go.
With mass transportation still crippled in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked the NBA to postpone Thursday’s highly anticipated opener between the Knicks and Nets at the Barclays Center, and the league agreed.
“It’s a great stadium, it would have been a great game, but the bottom line is: There is not a lot of mass transit. Our police have plenty of other things to do,” Bloomberg said at a news conference Wednesday.
The Barclays Center sits above the Atlantic Avenue subway station complex which hosts nine subway lines and a Long Island Rail Road station, and was expanded as part of the $1 billion arena’s construction.
The Nets believe that will be a major selling point in drawing fans to the games after they were plagued by poor attendance during their years in New Jersey.
But without knowing what — if any — subways would be available and with city officials still preferring people not drive into New York, the Nets agreed with the decision.
“We’re disappointed that we can’t play, but there’s a lot more important things going on right now, a lot of people displaced from their homes, a lot of people lost loved ones. So in the grand scheme of things, a basketball game really doesn’t mean much right now,” Nets point guard Deron Williams told reporters after practice.
“I think it’d be hard for a lot of people to even get to the game in the first place, with public transportation being shut down. I guess it makes sense to not have the game.”
The Knicks are now scheduled to open their season at home Friday night against the Miami Heat. The Nets are scheduled to host Toronto on Saturday night.
Bloomberg said the city will work with the league to provide extra buses to Saturday’s game in case the subways are not yet operational. Brett Yormark, the Nets’ CEO, said in a statement that there would be food and beverage specials starting at 5:30 p.m.
Basketball will wait, but the mayor said the marathon will go on as planned Sunday.
Marathon organizers had been moving forward with planning but awaited final word from the city about whether holding the race would be safe and viable with flooding, power outages and transit shutdowns still afflicting the five boroughs.
New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg said Wednesday that organizers were preparing to use more private contractors than past years to reduce the strain on city services. Wittenberg insists the race can be an inspiration to New Yorkers and benefit businesses that have lost money because of the storm.
The MLS announced that it has switched its schedule for the playoff series between the D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls. United will now host the first leg on Saturday night, and the Red Bulls, who play in Harrison, N.J., will host the return leg of the two-game, total-goal series on Wednesday.
The Central Connecticut-Monmouth football game scheduled for Saturday in West Long Branch, N.J., has also been postponed. School officials said they are discussing the possibility of a makeup date, but neither team has an open date for the rest of the regular season.
The New York Giants are preparing to play the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday.
The superstorm devastated areas of New York City and New Jersey and a number of Giants were among the residents who have lost power.
Receiver Victor Cruz is one of the lucky ones. He got power back after losing it for a couple of hours on Monday. Guard Kevin Boothe never lost power so he hosted tight end Martellus Bennett and his wife on Tuesday.
Coach Tom Coughlin believes he never lost his electricity, but said he hasn’t been home much since the team returned from Dallas early Monday following a win over the Cowboys. Coughlin has been busy working on preparations for Pittsburgh.
Sandy struck Monday evening and left a wake of destruction not seen in decades or ever.
“It’s definitely shocking,” said Cruz, who grew up 20 minutes from MetLife Stadium. “I mean, you’ve seen it with a couple of hurricanes in the past, when I was younger. I used to see all of that stuff. It never directly affected me. The past couple of years, a couple of hurricanes when you see things, when you see a couple having to evacuate their home and stuff, it definitely hits close to home a little bit.”
This storm destroyed towns and beaches, swamped cars, knocked down trees and left more than a million people without power.
“Just some terrible stories, and obviously you send out prayers to those families and those people who are still going through terrible situations right now,” said quarterback Eli Manning, who moved out of his Hoboken home and into a hotel after the power went out. “So I guess I feel fortunate that we can come in and come to work and be with our friends and teammates here. My family is safe, so I feel fortunate that we’re here today.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.