New York If the 76ers did not know before Saturday that sports are just a diversion, not life or death, do or die, they do now.
On Saturday, after their shootaround and before their preseason exhibition game against the New York Knicks, the Sixers visited a fire station in midtown Manhattan. The department's entire morning crew was lost on Sept. 11. The crew members did not return from the World Trade Center site the morning terrorists flew two airplanes into the towers.
"It was really emotional," Eric Snow said before tipoff. "You know how tough and hard it is for those guys and their families. All kinds of different things go through your mind. Guys getting queasy. It's an amazing sight to go in there. It affected everyone on our team instantly. Guys were just at a loss for words."
The Sixers opted not to go to ground zero.
Outside Madison Square Garden, the streets were eerily quiet. There were no horns honking, precious few people talking. More than a month has passed.
"No one in New York cares about sports," one Knicks staffer said. "No one cares."
Indeed, the Garden was half empty for the Knicks' 98-67 win over the Sixers. Those in attendance probably could not recognize the defending Eastern Conference champs. Not one starter from last season's team played last night, and Allen Iverson and George Lynch did not even make the trip. Dikembe Mutombo missed the game with leg fatigue. Aaron McKie continues to rehabilitate his shoulder. Snow dressed for the game, but did not play on his surgically repaired right ankle.
So the Sixers, who play Utah on Thursday at Allen Fieldhouse, started Speedy Claxton and Raja Bell in the backcourt, Matt Harpring, Robert Traylor and Matt Geiger in the frontcourt. The results were not good.
The Sixers fell behind 8-0 before Traylor made a hook shot. It was the team's only field goal of the quarter. Geiger missed six attempts. Bell missed two. Claxton missed three. Harpring didn't take a shot, but accumulated three fouls in the quarter, and played only six minutes.
"I'm glad it's over," coach Larry Brown said of the game. "But I kind of expected that. I look out at who he's playing, and who we're playing. I didn't expect us to go 1 for 19 and not shoot much better in the first five minutes of the second quarter. ... But I don't know if many of these guys are going to be playing minutes for us who are playing now, and I know the veterans we have, they'll be ready to play."
Kings' Webber injured
Sacramento, Calif. All-star forward Chris Webber sprained his left ankle five minutes into the Sacramento Kings' 107-88 exhibition victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night and could be out 4-to-6 weeks.
The Kings said X-rays of the ankle were negative but Webber, who fell under Sacramento's basket and never returned to the game, had a high ankle sprain and could be out well past the Oct. 30 season opener.
Webber missed 10 games late last season with a sprained left ankle but the Kings said this was in a different spot.
"Missing Chris is a big hole. He's our best player," Kings center Vlade Divac said.