The New York City Marathon is off, and a marathon ride into the city prompted Dwyane Wade to help those still dealing with the horrendous aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the cancellation of the marathon on Friday, just hours after insisting that the race needed to be run Sunday as scheduled to help the city continue recovering from the massive storm. Instead, Bloomberg said the "controversy and division" about whether the race should be run caused the change of plans.
"We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event — even one as meaningful as this — to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track," Bloomberg said.
Wade had similar sentiments. After questioning who was assisting the victims of the storm — and why he and the rest of the Miami Heat were even in New York to play the Knicks on Friday night with so many people still facing so many difficulties because of the massive system — Wade said he would give the equivalent of his paycheck from the game to relief efforts.
That gift: Roughly $210,000, before taxes.
"I just felt there were bigger things to be concerned about than us being here to play a basketball game," Wade said Friday, one day after the Heat needed nearly three hours for the 6-mile ride from the airport to their hotel. "Obviously, sports is things that takes people's minds away from things, but, you know, I think there's bigger things that need to be done here in the city."
After the Knicks-Heat game on Friday, the Brooklyn Nets will make their delayed home debut at Barclays Center on Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors.
The lone NFL game in the greater New York region also will be played as scheduled on Sunday, when the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the New York Giants. The Steelers are planning to fly in for the game Sunday morning because of a lack of available hotel rooms.
Hotel issues also were going to affect the marathon, and some of those registered to run on Sunday were being urged to donate their rooms to area residents whose homes were either lost or damaged — just so they would have a place to go over the weekend.
Meanwhile, from Florida to California and plenty of places in between, the storm has been in the minds of teams who weren't even directly affected.
The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to generate $150,000 for the American Red Cross to assist Sandy's victims. The team said Friday it's giving $50,000, and will match donations of up to another $50,000 from fans.
"Although the devastation caused by this hurricane was thousands of miles from Southern California, we consider the Lakers to be part of a much larger community," said Janie Drexel, the Lakers' director of charitable services.
Miami Hurricanes football coach Al Golden taped an appeal this week for fans to give to the United Way's storm relief fund. Golden's family has deep ties to the Jersey Shore — one of the hardest-hit areas in Sandy's path — and his brother Shaun Golden is the sheriff of Monmouth County, N.J., which was heavily damaged.
"We know friends that have nothing left," Golden said. "So it's tough for everybody. ... You can't even describe it."
The Minnesota Vikings and owner Zygi Wilf's family pledged $100,000 toward the recovery effort, and NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson is joining with his Hendrick Motorsports team and primary sponsor Lowe's to donate to disaster relief for the communities affected by the storm.
Lowe's has made a $1 million pledge, and also will match Johnson's earnings in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway with a minimum donation of $250,000 to the American Red Cross. Johnson, who is the polesitter for the race, and Hendrick will together donate an additional $48,000.
Johnson and his wife, Chandra, own an apartment in Manhattan, but neither of them was there during the storm. The Sprint Cup points leader said the building was evacuated after the bottom two floors were flooded and the main lobby was damaged.
"It's impacted us in a small way, to many others in a much greater capacity," Johnson said in Fort Worth, Texas. "It's a wild, wild deal up there. We've talked to our friends and the experiences they've had, and to know how many people through Manhattan and all the surrounding areas that are dealing with all the water issues, it's a sad thing."
Also Friday, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced plans to donate $1 million to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Feeding America to assist relief efforts. Commissioner Bud Selig called it "a privilege" to be part of such a contribution.
"Natural disasters know no boundaries, and this one was a direct hit that affected many in the MLBPA's office personally," union chief Michael Weiner said.
On Thursday, the NFL and its players union announced a $1 million gift, the same amount that the NBA and its players union have pledged. Also, along with Wade's donation, the Heat said they were planning to make a donation to relief efforts.
Athletes were even some of the first responders to the storm.
On Tuesday morning, USA Luge athlete Joe Mortensen was on the ice in Lake Placid, N.Y., 300 miles north of New York, training. Later that day, Mortensen — a sergeant in the Army National Guard — was summoned to duty, and wound up helping evacuate patients from Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan.
U.S. bobsled team members Nick Cunningham and Dallas Robinson were also called to duty. Like Mortensen, they are Army reservists.
"I don't even know the word to describe the amount of damage that was done," Mortensen said. "You could see how high the water rose in certain areas. It was astonishing."
A slew of high school and college games along most of the East Coast have been affected by the storm as well, including many fall-sport playoff matchups.
"Trying to get these families and everything back right where it needs to be is, I think we all know, more important than a basketball game," Heat forward and reigning NBA MVP LeBron James said. "But we also know that sports does things for people that a lot of things can't do as far as, you know, giving them a brighter side of things when something happens."
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