The New York Knicks beat—no, blew out—the NBA Champion Miami Heat. In Madison Square Garden. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Anything can happen in the City of Dreams. This isn't a story about the game, but what sports can do for a city.
August 28, 2005
The New Orleans Saints had just hosted the Baltimore Ravens in the Louisiana Superdome only two days ago. Hurricane Katrina had reached the city and 26,000 souls found refuge in the Saints' home stadium. The Superdome became a symbol of chaos and misery.
September 25, 2006
The 2-0 New Orleans come back to the Superdome to much fanfare. The division rival Atlanta Falcons are on the docket. Ninety seconds into the game, the Saints blocked a punt for a touchdown and never looked back, winning 23-3. Twenty points.
Amidst all the destruction and turmoil left in the wake of Katrina, this was no ordinary game. It symbolized the undying human spirit. The Saints turnaround from a 3-13 team to a 10-6 that reached the NFC Championship showed the nation how a team can represent the triumph of a city.
November 2, 2012
New York City was just ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. A city that has never been prone to natural disasters was finally hit (albeit not to the degree that New Orleans was by Katrina). This was an eerily similar moment that the Saints faced six years ago.
There were 40 dead (per the Washington Post) in the city. The original season opener at the Barclays Center against the Brooklyn Nets was canceled. Mayor Michael Bloomberg canceled the New York City Marathon (h/t USA Today). The Miami Heat were coming off a 13-point victory over the Boston Celtics. It was a moment of grief, of despair, of impossible odds.
The New York Knicks made it a moment of hope as Carmelo Anthony put up 30 points and 10 assists en route to a 104-84 point victory. Twenty points. How fitting.
This is only the first of 41 games the Knicks will play at Madison Square Garden, but none will be more meaningful than this. Will the Knicks make it to the Eastern Conference Finals? Who knows. For now, this victory shows us again what sports can do for a city. For now, the Knicks gave New York what it so desperately needs: hope.