First of all, I would like to apologize for letting Pat, a Giants hater, fill the blog up with anti-Big Blue propaganda since the Giants’ historic win Sunday. I have had little free time, but will now counter Pat with a pro-Giants post.
After two weeks of the season, I was convinced that the Giants could make a realistic run at the number one pick in the draft. They then turned it around and won their next six games. Late in the season, the Giants looked like a team that would once again stumble into the playoffs and get wiped out in the first round. Amazingly, they have won three playoff road games, including two against the NFC’s elite, and made it the Super Bowl. Eli Manning, who many were doubting (some chumps went as far as to question claims that he was unstoppable), is finally looking like the franchise quarterback the Giants thought that they were getting when they traded 12 first round draft picks and Jon Bon Jovi to move up three spots.
Have New Yorkers ever seen an underdog make a run like this? The answer is yes. In 1999, the New York Knicks (RIP) headed into the playoffs as the number eight seed. They then pulled off three consecutive upsets before falling to the Spurs in the NBA Finals. How does Big Blue’s run compare to the Knickerbockers ’99 shot at the title? Let’s take a look. (Picture Credit: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/2007/10/13/2007-10-13_giants_coaches_want_eli_manning_to_compl.html)
’98-’99 Knicks: The Knicks were coming off a solid 1998 season, and had added Latrell Sprewell and Marcus Camby to the mix. They were expected to be a contender in the Eastern Conference, and had a full season been played (only 50 games were played because of a players’ strike) they probably would have been a little higher than the 8 seed.
’07-’08 Giants: The G-Men lost 7 of their last 9 games in ’06, including a second consecutive first round KO at the hands of the hated Eagles. They also lost their best offensive player, Tiki Barber. Michael Strahan, the face of their franchise, had missed all of training camp. 8-8 was a generous estimate at how the Giants would finish.
Expectations Heading into Postseason Play:
Knicks: While the Knicks were considered a dangerous 8-seed, most expected the Heat to take care of business. The ‘bockers were also without franchise center Patrick Ewing for much of the playoffs, and had played uninspired ball all season.
Giants: The Giants valiant effort in week 17 against the undefeated undisputed New England Patriots got many to pick the Giants to beat Tampa Bay in the first round. However, no one thought that they could do any more than that, and ESPN had even anointed the Seattle Seahawks, with the ghost of Shaun Alexander as their starting running back, as the NFC’s underrated sleeper team. (Just a side note, but how could any player get as bad as quickly as Alexander? Does anyone still think the Giants were mistaken in passing on him and drafting Ron Dayne instead? The guy must have worked out with Eddie George after his MVP season in 2005.)
Knicks: The Knicks shocked their bitter rivals, The Miami Heat (led by Alonzo “I sign with a title contender to play 15 minutes a game and win a ring because I couldn’t win one when I was good” Mourning) in an epic 5 game series in round 1. Two years earlier the two teams had brawled in their playoff series and the Knicks lost the series because of the NBA’s idiotic “If you stand up to tie you’re shoes during a fight, you’re suspended and thrown into a pit of lava” rule. The Knicks then beat the Reggie Miller-led Pacers in six games. In the 1990s, Miller was to the Knicks what Will Smith was to Aliens, so knocking him out of the playoffs (the Pacers were the 2 seed) was especially sweet. Oh yea, they also swept the Hawks.
Giants: The Giants win over the Cowboys was comparable to the Knicks heat series, as the two teams legitimately hated each other and the Cowboys were the heavy favorites. While the two teams hadn’t gone to fisticuffs, there had been serious trash-talking all season. The Giants win over the Packers doesn’t quite measure up to the Knicks topping the Pacers in terms of being a revenge win, but we were all pretty sick of hearing about Favre and no one was giving the Giants a chance in that game. Oh yea, they also beat the Bucs.
Defining moment #1:
Knicks: With the Knicks down 1 in the closing seconds of Game 5, Allan Houston took a short jumper that bounced off the front rim before miraculously changing course and landing in the basket. That shot going in completely defied all laws of phyisics. I take it as proof that even God did not want to see Mourning win a title, and that the refs of the 2006 NBA Finals are all going to hell.
Giants: With two weeks off, Cowboys star quarterback Tony Romo decided to take a trip to Mexico with girlfriend Jessica Simpson. He lost the game and drew a ton of scrutiny, proving that going to Mexico is never a good idea.
Defining moment #2:
Knicks: Down three late in game three, Larry Johnson nails a trey and draws a foul. There is actually a song written about what has gone down in history as “The Four point play.”
Giants: After missing two chip shot field goals, including a potential game winner, in regulation, kicker Lawrence Tynes somehow nails a 47 yard walk off in overtime.
Player who did little all season but stepped up in the playoffs:
Knicks: Talented center Marcus Camby was acquired from the Toronto Raptors in the offseason, but for some reason got less playing time than an Orioles backup shortstop in the Cal Ripken era. With Ewing injured, Van Gundy was forced to put in Camby and as it turns out, the guy’s not bad.
Giants: Coming into the season, Ahmad Bradshaw was the 12th running back on the depth chart, behind Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, Reuben Droughns, and Tom Coughlin. Ward got hurt, Droughns fell into a black hole (I think. I’m not really sure what happened to him) and now Bradshaw is flourishing in a platoon role with Jacobs.
How they fared in the Championship:
Knicks: The Knickerbockers were no match for Tim Duncan, David Robinson and the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs took the series in five.