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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Heroes of the hurricane were on the hardwood Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks and their fans thanked three men who took action when late October’s Superstorm Sandy threatened their neighbors.
It wasn’t just basketball the fans cheered about Friday night. Three ordinary guys were celebrated on center court for doing something extraordinary, CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis reported.
“I mean, it’s a beautiful experience out there to have people clapping on and honoring us,” Dale Mapp said.
Mapp, Danny Idiaquez and Peter Vadola were honored by the Knicks with their Sweetwater Clifton “City Spirit” Award for using a boat to rescue 200 people in Midland Beach, Staten Island that were trapped by Sandy.
Their heroic story was first told on CBS 2 and then was re-aired on the Jumbotron at Friday night’s game. They got a halftime recognition complete with medals of honor for selflessly helping their neighbors.
“I did it because it was the right thing to do at the time,” Vadola said.
“Just the appreciation of the people we rescued, that was just very grateful and it’s unbelievable the feeling of return from those people,” Idiaquez said.
It turns out the three heroes had never really spent much time inside Madison Square Garden and certainly not at center court, so when the invitation came, they said they almost didn’t believe it.
“When I got the phone call, I thought she was like a solicitor, I said, ‘No, no, I’m not interested,’ she said ‘no, this is what it’s about,’ I said ‘Oh, alright,’” Vadola said.
Former Knicks star John Starks now works in the team’s back office and said out of the hundreds of applications for the award, the story of these three men stood out.
“Obviously we are celebrated for what we do on the court, but these individuals are celebrated for what they did off the court,” Starks said.
The Knicks’ City Spirit Award comes with a $2,000 donation to the heroes’ charity of choice.
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