Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics teamed up today prior to their National Basketball Association playoff game to address the events in Boston this week.
It’s both teams’ second game since three people were killed and at least 175 were injured by a pair of bombs at the Boston Marathon on April 15. One of the suspects in the attack was taken into custody last night, while the other was killed in an altercation with police early yesterday morning, as most of Boston and surrounding towns was put into lockdown.
Fans at New York’s Madison Square Garden stood and clapped as the Boston Fire Department color guard presented the American flag at center court, and stayed on their feet as Anthony and Pierce stood together and spoke to the crowd.
“We want to let Boston know we send our prayers to them,” Anthony said. “We as New Yorkers understand what you guys are going through.”
The arrest last night of Dzhokar Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the marathon bombing, ended a five-day manhunt. The 19-year-old had previously eluded capture during a shootout with police in which his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, also suspected of carrying out the attacks, was killed.
Home games last night for the National Hockey League’s Boston Bruins and Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox were canceled during the lockdown. Boston College’s spring football game scheduled for today was also cancelled, along with numerous other athletic events in the area.
Former New York law enforcement officials said earlier this week that the block that contains Madison Square Garden and Penn Station was one of the most important areas in the city’s security planning. The arena sits atop the train station, which services roughly 600,000 travelers per day, and across 8th Avenue from the city’s main post office.
Fans at today’s game said that while security may have been more thorough than usual, there was nothing noticeably different. Nancy Anderson, a Manhattan resident at the game with her husband, said she would have been fine with whatever security the arena deemed necessary.
“In times like this caution is always warranted,” Anderson said in an interview.
The Celtics yesterday pledged $200,000 to support the One Fund Boston Inc. in its assistance of families affected by the bombings and their aftermath. The team wore yellow warm-up shirts that said “Boston Stands as One,” and a patch on their jerseys.
“I think when you go through tragedy as a city you kind of look for something to cling on,” Pierce, 35, said yesterday on the team’s website. “They’re going to be watching closely. There’s just a sense of pride about the city, a sense of pride about this team, to go out there and kind of play well and to do the best we can for the city in the wake of the tragedy.”
Fans at Yankee Stadium earlier this week observed a moment of silence to honor the victims of the bombings and sang along to “Sweet Caroline,” a staple at division-rival Boston Red Sox home games. Red Sox fans at Fenway Park after attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, sang “New York, New York,” a Yankees tradition.
The Yankees this week also placed a sign on their stadium with both teams’ logos and the words “United We Stand.” Anderson said many New York sports fans felt that way.
“We’re rivals in every sport, Red Sox-Yankees, Rangers-Bruins, Knicks-Celtics, but it’s important to keep it all in perspective,” she said in an interview.
The sentiment was not shared by all at the Garden. Some fans booed Pierce before he spoke and a much louder chorus of boos came during the Celtics’ introduction. The teams last met in a playoff series in 2011, with Boston sweeping New York in four games.
Andre Richburg, a New Jersey resident who lived in the area following the 9/11 attacks, said sports can help in the wake of tragedy.
“It brings people together,” Richburg, a Knicks fan since 1988, said in an interview at the game. “If you’re able to get your mind off of things for a few hours and stop watching the news that can be really meaningful.”