Last year, around March, I published an article about how New York sports sucked. The main takeaway was that New Yorkers have recently spent more time celebrating draft picks, free agency, and firings more than anything else.
Now, I’m here to retract that statement and say New York sports DON’T suck.
A lot can change in a year…
Last year, I asked what we the 5 best things to happen to the Knicks since their Finals appearance in 1999 was.
Here’s what I said,
Fired Isaiah Thomas
Fired Steve Mills
Fired Derek Fisher
Fired Kurt Rambis
Make an argument that I am wrong. You could tell me that the Knicks acquiring Carmelo Anthony was a great thing. But my counter would be 1) look at how it ended and 2) look at what the Knicks had to sacrifice to get him (Danilo Gallinari, Gordon Hayward, Jamal Murray).
Tell me drafting Kristaps Porzingis was a good thing. My counter would be – Dennis Smith Jr.
Getting the #3 pick in 2019 in the draft lottery was great and I believe RJ Barrett will be a star. The problem? Maybe he WILL be a star one day, but Zion Williamson and Ja Morant are stars today.
Okay so that last sentence has been proven wrong after Barrett emerged as a star during the 2021 season and proven to be a major foundational core piece for the Knicks moving forward. You could also argue trading Porzingis freed up cap space to set the wheels in motion for this year.
But now, the Knicks can proudly say the 2021 season was the best thing to happen in the last 20 years. A team projected to finish last (21 wins, roughly) made the Playoffs for the first time since 2013, finished 4th in the East. Julius Randle won Most Improved Player, was named Second team All-NBA, finished 8th in MVP voting and made his first All Star Game appearance. Derrick Rose returned, young stars emerged, and fans returned to the Garden in late May with fire.
FINALLY the Knicks feel like a destination players will want to play for and fans will be as proud as ever to support.
What I said a year ago about the Nets still holds true, but with an asterisk.
Unlike the Knicks, the Nets don’t fire people. They take action and make big moves. They just fail to capitalize on those moves.
This was obviously written after the Nets signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Since than, they have added James Harden! However, injuries during the second round of the playoffs and Durant’s giant foot limited them and they lost in 7 games to the Bucks. Nets have still yet to advance beyond the second round since moving to Brooklyn.
Despite the failure of 2021, the future is still very bright for the Nets.
My whole blurb was about the failures and I am not recapping it.
2021 has started off strong. Mets have a new owner. They have acquired Francisco Lindor who is a lightning bolt of excitement. Jacob deGrom is clearly the best pitcher in baseball and poised to win his third Cy Young Award in four years. Pete Alonso, Dom Smith, Brandon Nimmo are all young exciting stars and free agent acquisition Tijuan Walker made the All Star team in 2021.
Mets currently sit in first place in the NL East, as they have for most of the 2021 season. Let’s see how this season finishes, or if it’s anything like the last 20 years – another failure.
Bottom line for the Yankees – they are judged on championships, not wins.
2021 has been a rough one for the Yankees. At least in recent years, you could lean your hat on the wins and claim they just ran into a better team. This year, it feels like everyone is a better team. They won’t win a championship this season and they certainly will be judged on how many games they win, because it may not be enough to save people’s jobs.
Can the Giants make the playoffs in 2021? It’s not impossible especially with the NFC East being the worst division in football. Giants added Kenny Golloday, Kadarius Toney, Kyle Rudolph to their offense.
My favorite Giants stat – 1993 is the last time they won a playoff game in a year where they did not advance to the Super Bowl. They lost the Super Bowl in 2000 and won it in 2007 and 2012. Beyond that, success has been pretty limited.
Jets fans couldn’t wait to get rid of Rex Ryan. They got Todd Bowles.
Jets fans couldn’t wait to get rid of Todd Bowles. They got Adam Gase.
Let’s update this…
Jets fans couldn’t wait to get rid of Adam Gase. They got Robert Saleh.
The Jets are the prime example of what I described last year and earlier in my article – celebrating firings/hirings and draft picks. And then swearing, “but this time it’s different”.
The hiring of former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was met with much excitement and joy.
For the 2nd time in 4 years, Jets used a top 3 pick on a QB, drafting Zach Wilson #2. Will Wilson be better than Darnold? TBD. Will Saleh have more success than Gase? Technically, TBD, but 100% yes.
Rangers missed the playoffs, fired the GM and coach and will move forward in a direction they hope in more competitive than they have been in recent years. They have 2020 #1 pick Alexis Lafreniere and 2019 #2 pick Kaapo Kakko to lead their bright future.
for the second year in a row, the Islanders season ended in a loss in the Eastern Conference Finals to the eventual champion TB Lightning. Down 3-2, Isles made an exciting comeback in G6 in what would be the final game of the famed Nassau Coliseum.
Back-to-back seasons on the brink of a Stanley Cup birth, puts the Islanders in position to be the best team in the NY/NJ area.
Since 2012, Devils have made the playoffs once, losing 4-1. Devils have a lot of success in the Stanley Cup, way more than the Rangers or Islanders, but their last win came in 2003 and they lost in 2012.
After 2021, they have still only made the playoffs once since 2012.
I didn’t mention the Liberty in my article last year, but after writing it, they would go on to have a miserable experience in the WNBA bubble, finishing 2-20. This year, with 2020 #1 pick Sabrina Ionescu healthy and an improved supporting cast, Liberty are off to a strong start and will compete for a playoff birth for the first time since 2017. Ionescu is on her way to being one of the best players in the league, which means the Liberty will always have a chance to be competitive moving forward.