Ron Phillips New York is a card-carrying NYC sports superfan. In this article, we’ll discuss the best season NY has ever had for its sports teams.
In 1969, the Mets won the World Series over a highly favored Baltimore Orioles team. The year before, they had finished dead last with 100 losses. However, in 1969, led by Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver and National League ROTY Jon Matlack, who went an incredible 25–7 that year (and would win just 36 games in his 7-year career) and the ageless wonder, 42-year old pitching sensation (who struck out 21 hitters in a game in 1966 while with HOU), Hall of Famer, “Whitey” Ford who won 13 games that season to go along with Jerry Koosman’s 17 wins, New York was on top of the baseball world.
In other sports, the Jets shocked the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. With their quarterback star, Joe Namath delivered on his guarantee that they would win over Baltimore; it propelled them onto an incredible run where they went 29–5 over three years, including two divisional crowns and another Super Bowl appearance before slumping for nearly 20 years until former Giants coach Bill Parcells took over and started building a team of “New York attitude” players such as Mo Lewis, Jason Taylor, and Curtis Martin. They also went on an incredible run under new head coach Rex Ryan that included another AFC Championship appearance and two trips to the AFC/NFC championship games in three years.
They’ve yet to reach the top, however. The Knicks and Rangers had their best seasons ever during this time as well. In 1998, the Knicks finished atop their division with 60 wins behind Hall of Famers Patrick Ewing (21 ppg, 8 RPG), Allan Houston(23ppg), Latrell Sprewell (14p/5a), Larry Johnson (20 ppg 7 RPG) along with Marcus Camby’s 11 ppg and 10 RPG, Hubert Davis’s 11 ppg, John Starks’ 12 ppg, and Derek Fisher’s eight ppg. In the Eastern Conference, they faced a heavily favored Chicago Bulls team in a 7-game series that came down to the final minutes of Game 7 before falling short.
Still, it was another amazing season for New York fans. Madison Square Garden had been sold out 321 consecutive games going into the playoffs that year. Despite losing in the semifinals of the playoffs, there were high hopes for 2000–01 when Patrick Ewing would be back from an injury he sustained at training camp. The team led by Latrell Sprewell (19ppg), Allan Houston (20ppg), Marcus Camby (13 ppg, 11 RPG), and newcomers Brian Williams and Todd McCullough would go on to win 54 games that year, with many expecting another deep run. However, the season was ruined by a 9-game losing streak in January led by an injury to Patrick Ewing, who missed 23 games during the stretch.
There was optimism for 2001–02 as every player from the 2000–01 team returned with expectations of a 50+ win season which they were on pace for before a late-season slump caused them to finish 46–36 and lose out on home-court advantage in their 1st round playoff series against Boston. They had reached the conference finals three times in 10 years at this point (1999, 1994, and 1993) but would never get back to that point for the rest of the decade.