Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Top Five New York Sports Conquests

Lately (sans the most recent New York Giants Super Bowl victory), I have been appalled by the mediocrity that New York sports organizations churn out each and every year. The current edition of the New York Knicks are a laughingstock, even if they land Mike D'Antoni as head coach and Michael Beasley as the top pick in the NBA Draft. The Yankees have spent 1.6 billion dollars since their last championship (2000) and have yet to put together a winning campaign. The Rangers have put together solid rosters the past two seasons, only to be utterly embarrassed while getting knocked out in the second round of the playoffs each respective year (it just goes to show that goaltending, as evidenced through the splendid accolades of Henrik Lundqvist, only takes a team so far). Lately, I have reminisced over New York's better years, as observed in the following list (in each case, you'll see that the underdog tag goes a long way....)

5. 1970: The New York Knicks over the Los Angeles Lakers
Led by four eventual Hall of Famers--Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley and Dave DeBusschere (the 1972 edition of the Knicks would add two more to their lineup in Earl Monroe and Jerry Lucas)--the Knicks engineered a championship victory in seven games versus the Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain-led Los Angeles Lakers. Marv Albert was the voice behind the most inspiring moment ever recorded in Madison Square Garden history. Absent from the Knicks' Game 6 loss in L.A., Willis Reed, rendered useless in light of a torn muscle in his right leg, limped onto the court for warm-up drills prior to Game 7, the preeminent model of leading by example. Reed won the tip, scored two quick buckets, and, about halfway through the first quarter, was taken out for the rest of the game. Lost in the heroics was Frazier's MVP performance, in which 'Clyde' was able to reel off 40 points in a convincing Knickerbocker win.

4. 1986: The New York 'Amazin' Mets over the Boston Red Sox
"Little roller up along first....BEHIND THE BAG! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets WIN IT!" ~ Vin Scully's call of the closing moments of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

For every young pitching phenom that has risen to stardom since 1986, nobody finished with as much flair as Dwight Gooden, who put together two dominating seasons in 1984 and 1985 prior toward leading the Mets to a World Series championship in seven games against the Boston Red Sox in 1986. With 'Doc' Gooden as a template for the team's success, the ballclub was led by various scoundrels in the forms of Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, and Lenny Dykstra. Even so, the likes of Ray Knight and Mookie Wilson orchestrated the greatest late inning comeback the sport of baseball has ever seen, catapulting Bill Buckner into the realm of notoriety with his error on Mookie's groundball in the 10th inning of Game 6.

3. 1969: The New York Jets over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III
The city of New York wasted no time in raising a Super Bowl championship banner by winning in the showdown's third year of existence. The New York Jets, led by 'Broadway' Joe Namath's prowess and indelible guarantee, triumphed over Johnny Unitas's Baltimore Colts 16 - 7. The Jets' victory was the first of three championships won by New York in 1969-1970 seasons (Knicks over Lakers, Mets over Orioles being the others).

2. 1994: The New York Rangers over the Vancouver Canucks
The Rangers exorcised 50 years of playoff futility by taking home Lord Stanley’s Cup in 1994. The team was masterfully coached by Mike Keenan (the NHL’s reincarnation of Larry Brown), fortified in goal by the incredible athleticism of Mike Richter, and piloted by Brian Leetch, Adam Graves, and Mark Messier, who was able to get out of Wayne Gretzky’s shadow to lead a team of his own to victory (for years, Messier was merely a remarkable role player behind the Edmonton Oilers’ success in the 1980’s, playing second fiddle to Gretzky all those years). Messier had a Namath-esque guarantee of his own, scoring a natural hat trick in the third period of a Game 6 Eastern Conference finals match-up against the New Jersey Devils to force a seventh game, won off the stick of Stephane Matteau in another dramatic overtime victory.

1. 2008: The New York Giants over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII
18 victories, 1 Giant Loss. This became the slogan of an unlikely champion, a team led by quarterback Eli Manning, who had no business beating a Pro Bowl collection of quarterbacks (Tony Romo, Brett Favre, and Tom Brady) on his way to devising the greatest fourth quarter comeback in NFL championship game history. The G-Men’s collection of 8 sacks on Tom Brady. Manning’s evasion of three potential sacks on one play. David Tyree’s helmet-catch. Each moment has been replayed over and again, much to the delight of countless Giant fans who watched as their team won an NFL-record 11 road games en route to their Super Bowl victory. And it all happened against a juggernaut only one game away from perfection.


Marc V said...

Ok. I'm not just saying this cause I think you write for this blog, but I think you're dead on with your picks. That number one and two can go either way. The Rangers winning the cup was one of the biggest moments in NY history, but this last superbowl win over the undefeated Pats will remain one of the most stories Superbowl victories in history. Great choices, and my honorable mention would be Giants over the Bills, Norwood wide right!.

Michael said...

Gotta agree with Marc. Where's Giants over Bills? And what, no love for the Giants or Dodgers (of the baseball variety)? The Shot Heard Round The World? Watch the HBO documentary on the Brooklyn Bums...amazing stuff. But great post dude

Patrick said...

Norwood wide right should be on there as well, but this past season was the absolute best.

JamesBedell said...

I am no Yankee Fan, but where's Lou Gehrig's speech? Jackie Robinson? Big moments, tough to leave off the list. Your rangers call is dead on.