In only a few short weeks, President David Skorton, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and thousands of proud parents will congratulate the Class of 2011 on their graduation from Cornell. We’ve learned a few things, drank a bit too much and completed about a third of that 161 List. Most importantly, however, we’ve experienced some great moments in sports; correction — great moments in New York sports. For its final installment as a parting gift to those graduating seniors, East Coast Bias is proud to present the top 10 moments in New York sports from these past four years.
Honorable Mentions: Johan to the Mets, Favre to the Jets, Castillo drops the ball, Rex and Sanchez take over the Meadowlands.
No. 10: Plaxico shoots himself in the leg.
When Giants receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally discharged his Glock pistol in the middle of a New York City nightclub in November 2008, it represented much more than the G-Men losing their best outside receiving threat. Burress was indicted by a grand jury and sentenced to two years in prison. New York District Attorney Robert Mogenthau made him into a highly-publicized example for professional athletes everywhere: break the law and not only will the media cover it for weeks, but you will be punished like everyone else.
No. 9: Steve Lavin brings the Johnnies back to the promised land.
Appearing in their first NCAA tournament since 2002, St. John’s under new head coach Steve Lavin finally brought Red Storm pride back to New York City. Although St. John’s didn’t exactly make noise during March Madness, throughout the regular season they made Madison Square Garden one of the most feared courts in the Big East.
No. 8: Girardi replaces Torre.
Ten division titles, six pennants and four World Series rings; those were the shoes that former Yankees catcher Joe Girardi had to fill when he signed on to become the Bombers’ next manager on October 30, 2007. Girardi’s tenure thus far has not been without some controversy and questioning from the New York media, but he won over the fans of the Evil Empire in 2009 and was rewarded with a contract extension.
No. 7: Dolan hires Donny, fires Zeke.
Isiah Thomas, one of the most hated figures in recent New York sports history, finally got the boot from his best bud James Dolan in 2008. With the bromance at least temporarily suspended, into the Garden walked Donny Walsh, who successfully cleaned house and built the Knicks into a playoff team a few short seasons later.
No. 6: The Amar’e signing.
The new era in MSG was officially rung in when Amar’e Stoudemire and his five-year, $100 million contract became the face of the Knicks in 2010. STAT had a great freshman campaign in New York, but the impact of his signing will ultimately depend on whether or not he can win a championship.
No. 5: New ballparks in New York.
After years of hype and ever-rising price tags, the Mets’ Citi Field and the “New” Yankee Stadium opened in 2009. The executive summary: no one’s hit a home run in Queens since, and The Bronx now has its first sushi bar inside a ballpark.
No. 4: Carmelo comes home.
The only thing bigger than ’Melo’s game? The media build-up to his trade from Denver on February 22nd. The Carmelo saga dominated ESPN and the New York back pages for more than a month, and the acquisition completely changed the look of the Knicks and the excitement in the city. Just like Stoudemire’s signing, history will characterize the ’Melo trade based on whether or not the ’Bockers can win their first NBA title since 1973.
No. 3: The ’08 Mets collapse.
One game to win. Against the Florida Marlins. Guess what happened.
No. 2: The Yanks win number 27.
After missing the playoffs in 2008, the Yankees christened their new stadium with their 27th World Series title in 2009. Rivera pitched like it was 1999, A-Rod exorcised the ghosts of playoffs past and Jeter had what might be remembered as the last high-point of his Hall of Fame career.
No. 1: The Giants win the Super Bowl.
Better than the best catch in Super Bowl history? Brady getting buried into the turf on the Pats’ final drive.