Not everyone was sure they should be there.
That was the feeling in the Miami locker room as the Heat got ready to tip off Friday night's game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. And it also seemed to be the mood on the court during the game as the Heat was overwhelmed, 104-84, by an inspired Knicks team.
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The game was the first professional sporting event in the city since Hurricane Sandy ravaged the area. And the Knicks responded to the challenge.
"This was an emotional game for the city and the energy in the arena was amazing," said Dwyane Wade, who scored 15 points. "The Knicks fed off that. It was a great time to let the fans and the community forget about things for a few hours."
Wade donated his paycheck from the game -- nearly $210,000 -- to the relief fund. Friday morning, he told reporters he didn't think the game should be played.
On Thursday, the NBA postponed the Knicks' season opener against the Nets at Barclays Center. And Friday, just two hours before tip-off, the city announced that it was canceling Sunday's New York City Marathon.
Wade said he was so sure the game would be postponed that he didn't even pack until after practice Thursday. After the Heat landed in Newark on Thursday, it took three hours to get to the team's hotel in Manhattan. That's when Wade said the feeling hit him that they shouldn't be there.
"If we're in a car and we're in traffic for three hours, what are the other people who are really affected by this, what are they doing? How are they getting around? How are they moving?" Wade told reporters at the team's morning shootaround. "It was just like, come on, man, we shouldn't be here to play a basketball game. If anything, we should be here to do something to help the city."
LeBron James, who had 23 points and seven rebounds, had said he was kind of "50-50" about playing the game. Afterward, however, he said he was glad to have been a part of it.
"They fed off the city and their fans and everything that has been going on," he said.
Ray Allen said he thought the game was going to be postponed but that once he got here, he decided that playing could be a good thing for New Yorkers.
"It's hard to think that they would run a marathon because so much goes into it, from using bottles of water to cops to volunteers," Allen said before the game. "There's so many people in need right now that it's hard to direct your resources away from that."
He believes playing a basketball game, however, is different and that the upside of playing outweighed the downside.
"I think basketball is so self-contained," Allen said. "You figure there's going to be 18,000 people in here. It's got its own security. I think it can provide a sense of entertainment and source of strength for people . . . I know it's tough times for people in New York, but hopefully, we give them something to at least be excited about."