After saying the game should not be played, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade decided to donate his pay—about $210,000—from Friday's game vs. the Knicks to a charity to help Sandy relief efforts. | AP
NEW YORK — Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade loves basketball, and he loves playing Madison Square Garden. He just doesn’t want to play basketball in Madison Square Garden Friday night.
Wade said Friday night’s Heat-Knicks game at Madison Square Garden in storm-ravaged New York City should have been postponed, and he told USA TODAY Sports he will donate his salary from the game to charity.
When it comes to road venues, “It’s my favorite place to play,” Wade told USA TODAY Sports of the Garden. “But just knowing a lot of people here and knowing what they’ve been going through with no power, no water, no food to me, it just seems like there’s bigger things to be concerned about than a basketball game.
“Even though I know life goes on and you still have to do certain things, I just felt that they canceled the game in Brooklyn, then this one would be canceled as well. The game tonight shouldn’t be played.
Wade plans to donate his pay from Friday’s game, “approximately $210,000 before taxes,“ to charity, and said he and his teammates are looking for the right charitable organization.
“The money I make tonight can be left for a good cause,” he said. “I know a lot of people here. Knowing the things they have been through, it’s just mind-boggling. Miami is a place that is affected by hurricanes all the time so I know how the community can be impacted by it. It’s tough.”
Thousands of New Yorkers remain without power, and store shelves have been depleted of basic staples. A handful of traffic signals near busy Madison Square Garden were out, and other traffic lights flickered. Driving into Manhattan revealed large stretches of lower Manhattan and lower mid-town in the dark.
Coffee shops and diners were packed with customers Friday morning, many people in long lines waiting to order food and beverages and to use restrooms. Some restaurants had signs on the front door that read “Closed, no food.” Several blocks south of Bryant Park at West 40th Street and East of 5th Avenue were without power while businesses across the street had power.
There is also strong criticism directed at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for not postponing Sunday’s New York City Marathon and using city resources for the race while others are in need.
Wade Tweeted his dissatisfaction Thursday night after a nearly three-hour bus ride from Newark Liberty International Airport to the team hotel in Manhattan.
He expressed his concern for friends and strangers affected by the storm: “many New Yorkers still without power and gas and difficulty finding water and food.
“I luv playing in the garden but cnt do nothing but think abt all the families that dont have power,food,water etc..ths is a tragic hit 4 ths gr8 city,” Wade Tweeted around 9 p.m. ET Thursday.
Wade re-iterated those sentiments early Friday afternoon on the Madison Square Garden court where the Heat will play the Knicks in the season-opener for New York.
The NBA postponed the Knicks-Brooklyn Nets game originally scheduled for Thursday in what would have been the first regular-season game at the new $1 billion Barclays Center and the first major professional team sports game since 1957— “ the year Major League Baseball’s Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles.
“I just felt there were bigger things to be concerned about than us being here to play a basketball game,” Wade said. “Obviously sports is something that takes people’s minds away from things, but there are bigger things that need to be done here in the city.”
Wade said he developed his compassionate side as a kid without much.
“I grew up very poor. I grew up many days, many nights where I didn’t have electricity and a lot of things,” he said. “Just being blessed with I’m blessed with today, that’s where my compassionate side comes from “knowing where I’ve been and knowing people who are still out there who are growing up like I grew up and are going through similar things that I did.
“I always try to do what I can to help others.”