New York sports has a long and storied tradition, and some of the most successful franchises in all of sports call NY home. One thing you know in New York is that when a sports team is successful, the whole state is abuzz and behind them with the heart and energy that makes NY famous around the world.
Since I was born in 1990, I wanted to count down the 10 best teams of my lifetime. I can 100% guarantee that you will have a different list, and that’s fine; it just goes to show how many good teams we have been fortunate enough to watch as New York sports fans:
10. ’98 New York Jets
Our list starts with a team that is often forgotten, the ’98 Jets. Honestly, there may be a couple more worthy team than this Jets team, but I needed some diversity to not have the same four teams on here.
Led by Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, this Jets team wasn’t too shabby, sporting a 12-4 record and winning the AFC East for the first time since 1969. Unfortunately, Parcells and his jets ran into John Elway and the Denver Broncos in the ’98 AFC Championship Game, ending their impressive season.
One of the more notable aspects of this team were the many players they had that were beloved by New York fans, including QB Vinny Testaverde, RB Curtis Martin, and WR Wayne Chrebet. Besides Parcells, the rest of the coaching staff are some names you may know as well, with future head coaches like Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennell, Eric Mangini, Todd Haley, and some guy named Bill Belichick all on the payroll.
Read the rest of the list here
The 2014 NBA Finals are over, and the San Antonio Spurs are your champions, defeating LeBron James and the Miami Heat in five relatively easy games. The Spurs were as impressive a team in those Finals as I can remember, with their flawless ball movement on offense, and intensity on defense. The Heat simply looked outmatched from start to finish, despite having the best player on the planet. Now, we recap: What did we learn?
Here are five things I took away from the 2014 NBA Finals:
5. Welcome to the big stage, Kawhi Leonard, take a seat and stay a while: In a series of superstars on top of superstars, featuring the best player in the world (LeBron), and maybe the greatest player of his generation (Duncan, more on this in a moment), the star that shined brightest was 22 year-old Kawhi Leonard. Leonard, who is undoubtedly quiet off the court, let his play speak for itself, averaging 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks in the series, while shooting 61.2 percent from the field and 57.9 percent from behind the 3-point line. The shooting percentage above all else was especially impressive, as he went toe-to-toe with LeBron statistically, while defending him exceptionally well on the defensive end.
For Leonard, the next step now will be having to perform with the expectations that he should now make the leap to becoming one of this league’s stars. We saw Paul George struggle with this exact expectation this season after similarly going toe-to-toe with LeBron in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals. Whether he can use this Finals MVP performance to catapult him to the next level consistently remains to be seen, but its undeniable the young man has arrived to the big stage.
4. It’s been real, D-Wade: While Leonard was the player whose career benefited most from the 2014 Finals, Heat star Dwyane Wade is on the other side of the spotlight. Wade, a future Hall of Fame inductee, looked like a player who has seen his best days pass. To be frank, Wade was awful, especially when you consider how much he was rested throughout the season, and the minimum amount of effort he needed to exert in the playoffs prior to the Finals.
Wade didn’t break a sweat against the Charlotte Bobcats, and barely was needed for the Heat to get past both the Brooklyn Nets and the Indiana Pacers, which was quite unexpected as the Pacers were supposed to be the Heat’s kryptonite. All in all, Wade really had no excuse not to be ready to play at a high level.
In related news, Wade can opt in to a 2-year, $40 million deal. Amar’e Stoudemire may have some competition in the NBA Stealing Money Club…
3. At least Miami has beaches, LeBron: LeBron James must have been feeling a far too familiar feeling while he and his team were embarrassed against the Spurs. With the aforementioned struggling of D-Wade, and a group of players who are either retiring, or should be considering it, the Miami Heat resembled the 2010 Cleveland Cavaliers far too much for anybody’s comfort level, especially LeBron.
That comparison isn’t exactly fair, as Chris Bosh himself is better than any teammate James had in Cleveland, and while the Cavs had overachievers, the Heat purposely employed veterans they thought would perform well come playoff time. Evidence shows that was pretty far from the truth, as the Miami supporting cast didn’t look like players worthy of gracing a Finals floor.
Ultimately, I don’t see LeBron leaving Miami, but that could end up being a mistake with Wade eating up a ton of salary, not allowing the Heat to properly retool this team like they need to in order to compete.
2. Tim Duncan, VIP member: If you are talking big picture, nobody’s legacy was furthered from the Finals more than coach Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan. However, I would argue Duncan is the ultimate beneficiary, strictly because Popovich is already revered as one of the all-time greats, and would have been, win or lose.
Players are put under a more strict microscope, especially when it comes to wins and losses, and more importantly, championships. Duncan’s fifth ring puts him in elite company, and this championship may be as impressive as any of the other four. Duncan now HAS to be mentioned as one of the top-10 players ever, and instead of his career ending with a heart-breaking defeat, it is now enhanced by a story-book worthy redemption story.
Whether we like it or not, perception still means something, and Duncan’s perception will now always be of a winner, with Ray Allen’s game six corner three seen as a mere bump in the road of success.
1. Teamwork STILL makes the dream work: While the above four points have been focused on individuals, the one thing we learned more than anything else is that basketball is still a TEAM game. In the era of Big -insert number here- and super-teams, the championship was won with beautiful ball movement, and players trusting each other. If you listed the top 10 players in this series, LeBron may be the only Heat player that makes the list (you can argue Bosh would too). In the end, it wasn’t only Duncan and Leonard, or even Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, but players like Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, and Patty Mills that won this championship for the Spurs.
In truth, it wasn’t any of them that won it, but it was all of them. The Spurs played at an impeccable level as a team, and I truly believe that the Heat were just the unfortunate opponent of a team on a mission. In my opinion, the Spurs would have embarrassed any other team in the league on that Finals stage playing at that level, opponent insignificant.
The idealist in me would like to believe this may change the way teams are formed, and the way teams play forever. Maybe emphasis will be put on trying to duplicate the Spurs success, and individual accomplishments will be put on the back-burner in favor of a group of individuals forming one unit, and focusing on whatever gives them the best opportunity to win.
The realist in me knows that what I just witnessed in those Finals may be something I never see again.
Frank Santos- Sports-Kings Co-Founder
Sometimes we talk in theory about how huge athletes are. Hell, LeBron James’ height and weight may as well be secured in Fort Knox at this point, as people constantly guess just his height/weight on a daily basis.
Sportchart has indulged us maniacs by creating this chart that highlights the height and weight of each player in the four major sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL for those Lacrosse fans who thought you may have snuck into the top four..):
I am irrationally fascinated by this chart, and thought you may be too. By no surprise, NBA centers came in as the tallest athlete, but weigh about as much as an NFL linebacker, who are nine inches shorter. NFL linemen are clearly the hungriest, having no competition in the weight category, despite being the size of an NBA shooting guard, and a DH in the MLB, who are usually put there because they aren’t athletic enough to play the field, are about the size and weight of an NFL wide receiver.
Frank Santos- Sports-Kings Co-Founder
I’m no expert here, but I am going to go out on a limb and say an important part of being a reporter during a press conference after an event is knowing who won and who lost the game. Apparently a reporter, who has yet to be identified, didn’t get the memo at this year’s French Open.
After Frenchmen Nicolas Mahut lost a four-set match to Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin, his press conference started with this reporter congratulating him on the win. For those of you scoring at home, losing is the opposite of winning, so the congratulations noooooooot exactly what you should say. Mahut’s reaction to the reporter’s slip-up was about as funny as you’d expect. Let this awkward video tell the story:
The best part is the reporter simply saying “…oh” after being informed by Mahut. That’s the part that got me. I am sure that reporter is as unhappy with the person who incorrectly informed him Mahut had won than Mahut was with him. Either way, step your game up, dude.
Frank Santos-Sports-Kings Co-Founder
In all sports, competition is fierce, and for some, it is easy to get rattled. Competitors commonly use trash-talking to get in their opponents head, and even physicality. This strategy may be a new one, and it wasn’t even intentional. Golfer Jason Dufner lost this weekends Crowne Plaza Invitational to Australian Adam Scott, and he admitted that he may have been thrown off by Scott’s good looks:
“It’s tough to beat him,” Dufner said. “He’s a great player. It’s tough to concentrate. He’s so good looking, too.”
If you’ve seen Dufner’s way-too-hot-for-him wife Amanda, you’d think he would be used to concentrating while being among beautiful people. Then again, maybe she just wins every board game they play together.
Frank Santos- Sports-Kings Co-Founder
One of the best days for sports fans arrived today, as the NCAA Tournament was officially underway. Millions of fans stood in front of TV’s for hours on end, bracket in hands, hoping to win their office pools…or even a billion dollars. With day one in the books, most people’s hope for a perfect bracket is probably a thing of the past. However, that doesn’t mean day one didn’t bring us a ton of exciting basketball.
Let’s count down the top five moments from day one of the 2014 NCAA Tournament:
Honorable Mention: #7 UConn defeats #10 seed St. Joe’s in OT
In what was one of the more competitives played games from beginning to end, St. Joe’s simply ran out of gas in the overtime period. The Hawks played a short rotation of seven, and simply couldn’t survive the extra five minutes, especially when their offensive catalyst Halil Kanacevic fouled out early in overtime.
Shabazz Napier, UConn’s star point guard, was quiet most of the night, but came on toward the end of the second half, and completely dominated overtime with nine of his 24 points to lead the Huskies to an 89-81 victory over the Hawks.
5. #4 Louisville, San Diego St. survive potential upsets
The defending champion Louisville Cardinals, a popular pick to win it all despite being a four-seed, had a lot of fans sweating bullets late as the Manhattan Jaspers gave the champs all they could handle. The Jaspers took a two-point lead with just over two and a half minutes to go.
After the Cardinals tied the game with just over two minutes to go, senior forward Luke Hancock took over, coming up with a crucial steal, and hitting two threes late. The eight-point stretch for Hancock sealed the win for the Cardinals and coach Rick Pitino. Manhattan put up one hell of a fight though, coached by one of Rick Pitino’s former players, Steve Masiello. Allie LaForce of CBS reported during the game that Masiello was calling out Louisville’s plays, which he knew from his time spent with Pitino, and now runs with his own team.
The Cardinals went on to win with a misleading 71-64 final behind Hancock’s 16 points. However, as stated, that final doesn’t really indicate just how hard they had to work for the W.
And if you thought Louisville barely survived, you should have seen the last game of the evening, as the four-seed San Diego St. Aztecs all but begged the New Mexico St. Aggies to send them packing. The Aztecs blew a five point lead with just over thirty seconds remaining, thanks to a costly late turnover on an in-bounds play. Aggies guard Kevin Aronis would make them pay, nailing a three to tie the game with five seconds left, eventually sending it into overtime.
That being said, the Aztecs rebounded in OT, barely edging out the gritty Aggies to advance to the round of 32 thanks to senior guard Xavier Thames, who hit some clutch free throws late. Thames finished with 23 points in the Aztecs 73-69 victory.
4. #11 Dayton starts off the Madness, upsets #6 Ohio State
It didn’t take long for the Madness to begin in the NCAA tournament, with an upset in the first game to tip-off. In-state rivals Dayton Flyers and the Ohio St. Buckeyes squared off in Buffalo, and the two teams went back and forth late in the game. Ohio St. senior guard and team leader Aaron Craft made a layup with just 17 seconds left to put the Buckeyes up 59-58, only to be outdone by Flyer reserve guard Vee Sanford, who buried a floater on the next possession to seal the win for the Flyers, 60-59.
Craft would travel full court and rim out a potential game-winning floater, and the Dayton Flyers would start off the NCAA Tournament with an 11 over a 6 upset.
3. #7 Texas defeats #10 Arizona St with Buzzer-Beater
The highest scoring affair of the opening day ended with a frantic back and forth battle in the final seconds between the Texas Longhorns and the Arizona St. Sun Devils. The game was a foul frenzy, with a combined 60 free throws between the two teams. After the Sun Devils hit two free throws to tie the game with just over 17 seconds to play, Texas wisely decided to hold for the last shot.
The last play was not at all how coach Rick Barnes probably drew it up, resulting in a desperation three from forward Jonathan Holmes that didn’t even hit the rim. However, sophomore center Cameron Ridley was there to pick up the offensive rebound despite being surrounded by multiple Arizona St. defenders and lay it in at the buzzer, juuuuuust over the oustretched arm of Sun Devils 7’2 center Jordan Bachynski, who averages 4.1 blocks a game.
It was close enough for the referees to review it, but the game-winner stood, and Ridley’s Longhorns defeated the Sun Devils 87-85. Ridley finished with 17 points and 12 boards, while the Sun Devils, who came back after being down by as many as 14, were led by Buchynski’s 25 points and 8 boards.
2. The 12 over 5 upset lives on
Per CBSSports.com, there have only been three NCAA tournaments since the field expanded to 64 teams that a 12-seed has NOT beat a 5-seed, including a current streak of six years, and this year was no different. The 12-seed Harvard Crimson started off the tradition by defeating the 5-seed Cincinnati Bearcats 61-57. You could hardly call it an upset, as Harvard truly looked like the better team all day, led by Ivy League Player of the Year Wesley Saunders, who has 12 points to lead the Crimson.
The tradition wasn’t done just yet, though, as the 12-seed North Dakota State Bison defeated the 5-seed Oklahoma Sooners in overtime for the first NCAA tournament win in the school’s history. The Bison led most of the way, but it looked like the Sooners would survive as they took a 66-63 lead late in the game. However, the Bison were not to be stopped, as junior guard Lawrence Anderson nailed a late three to tie the game at 66. The Bison would go on to win in overtime 80-75, behind Anderson’s 28 points.
It was nearly a trifecta for the 12-seeds, but…
1. #12 NC State implodes vs #5 St. Louis
Sporting a double digit lead multiple times in the game, including a 60-49 lead with just over three minutes left, the #12 NC State Wolfpack were in prime position to pull off the popular aforementioned 12 over a 5 upset. However, the St. Louis Billikens executed a Hack-A-Pack strategy, and apparently the entire NC State team went to the Shaq school of free throw shooting. The Wolfpack missed free throw after free throw, and slowly let the Billikens back into the game late. The Wolfpack’s worst offender from the line was their star player T.J Warren, who went a putrid 6-14 from the line. The team as a whole missed 17 free throws, and the Billikens came roaring back to tie the game, and eventually win in overtime.
Billikens forward Rob Loe led the way with 22 points and 15 rebounds, including showing off his touch from the outside for a big man nailing four three-pointers.