After Sandy: Knicks Kick-Off New Season At Madison Square Garden



Knicks promotional truck sits outside Madison Square Garden as staff hand out free t-shirts and posters. N.G. Onuoha

In an effort to return to normalcy after Hurricane Sandy hit the Tri-state area, New York Knicks fans streamed into Madison Square Garden Friday night for the team’s season opener against the Miami Heat.

Newlyweds Jesse and Suszana Cohen traveled by train from Princeton, New Jersey to Penn Station for the game. Jesse Cohen, 26, is a season ticket holder and said he did not want Sandy to stop him from attending. “We just want to get back to life,” said Cohen. “We love the Knicks and we want to go out and watch our favorite team.”

Rubbing her belly, Suszana Cohen agreed. “We’re glad life is getting back to normal,” said Cohen, 25, who is six months pregnant. “Its my baby’s first game.”

Jesse and Suszana Cohen stand and wait to enter the arena. Photo: N.G. Onuoha.

In Knicks outerwear and a fitted cap, Gavin Lawrence stood on the steps of the arena entrance, across from a DJ playing in the lobby. Lawrence drove into the city from Brooklyn. “It’s the first game of the season,” he said, in excitement. Though eager to see the game, Lawrence, 31, admitted it was a little bittersweet that the game was being played as people recovered from the hurricane.

“I’m a little surprised the game is going on,” he said. “They canceled the Nets game [at Barclays Center in Brooklyn] and the marathon. It’s unfortunate what people are going through, but hopefully, [Mayor Bloomberg] knows what’s right.”

Lawrence said he has been a Knicks fan during the team’s “suffering days” and added, “When you’re a true fan, you weather the storm.”

A few feet away, Matt Lurin stood waiting for a friend. Lurin, 46, lives only four blocks away from the Garden in a building without power and water, so the emergency room doctor had experienced the effects of Sandy’s aftermath first hand. “I had no light at home,” he said. “So I stayed overnight at the hospital [in Westchester].”

Lurin showered at his mother’s home before heading to Madison Square Garden; the game, he believes, will help the city get back to normal. “The city needs this,” said Lurin. “I remember after 9/11 people wondered when baseball was coming back. This shows the city is getting back.” Showing off his Carmelo Anthony jersey, he said, “Basketball season is back, my light is coming back at midnight and the city is bouncing back. I’m looking forward to booing Lebron.”