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Knicks-Nets season opener at Barclays Center postponed

Raymond Felton drives against Brook Lopez during a

Raymond Felton drives against Brook Lopez during a preseason game at Nassau Coliseum. (Oct. 24, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Nets' season opener against the Knicks, scheduled for Thursday at the Barclays Center, has been postponed at the urging of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

It's a turnaround from Tuesday, when Bloomberg said he hoped the game would go on as planned despite the lack of mass transit to the area.

"At my recommendation, the NBA has canceled tomorrow night's Nets-Knicks game," Bloomberg said. "I'm sorry about the game. There is a not a lot of mass transit and our police have better things to do."

Nets coach Avery Johnson broke the news to his players midway through yesterday's practice on the Barclays Center's main floor, where they were forced to convene because the Nets' training facility in New Jersey is under water.

Although they've been looking forward to taking the court in their new $1-billion arena against their city rivals, the Nets were on board with the decision. No makeup date has been announced.

"I think it's better to open the building with a good buzz and a good atmosphere," Nets point guard Deron Williams said. "That will be hard to do if people can't get to the games."

The Nets' opener will be Saturday when they host the Raptors.

Nets and Barclays chief executive Brett Yormark said in a statement that a transportation plan is in place, including additional bus options for Saturday's game, scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and fans are encouraged to arrive early.

"It's the right thing to do," Johnson said of the postponement. "We all would have loved to play, and bring hopefully the people that have power or some of the fans that could have made it to the building, we would have loved to have brought them some sense of entertainment or joy or whatever. But at the same time, all the people who are responsible for making this decision, it's the right thing to do."

The arena is located on top of 11 subway lines and across the street from the Long Island Rail Road's Atlantic Terminal, but with mass transit not fully operational, it likely would have caused a logistical nightmare.

NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said: "Mayor Bloomberg informed us this afternoon that after further analysis of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy that he felt it was in the best interests of the City of New York, the teams and our fans that we postpone the Knicks-Nets game scheduled for Thursday night.

"Our thoughts are with all those affected by this devastating storm.''

Williams said he was surprised when he received a text message Tuesday night indicating the game was still on. He has no power in his Manhattan apartment, so Williams understands why the game was postponed, particularly when teammate Tyshawn Taylor is still stranded in Hoboken, N.J.

"We are disappointed that we can't play," Williams said, "but there are a lot more important things going on right now and a lot of people are displaced from their homes and a lot of people lost loved ones.

"So in the grand scheme of things, basketball doesn't mean much right now. So I think it will be hard for people to even get to the game with public transportation shut down. I guess it makes sense to not have the game."

The Knicks intended to treat Thursday's's game, which was to be broadcast nationally on TNT, like a true road game. They had planned to bus to Brooklyn yesterday afternoon or evening, spend the night in a hotel and shoot around at the Barclays Center this morning.

The Nets must practice for Saturday's game at the Barclays Center, which doesn't seem to faze Johnson much. He said later on ESPN radio's "The Michael Kay Show'' that he doesn't think the Nets will be able to return to their East Rutherford practice facility for at least two weeks.

"Fortunately, we have a practice court here," Johnson said. "So even if there's an event on the main floor or in the main part of the building, we can still get on the practice court.

"If we are going to open up on Saturday, if they show up on Saturday, hopefully we'll give them something to smile about."

New York Sports