2000 Sports: One Dynasty Ends, Another Begins & An Ironic College Football Debate
It isn’t often that a political story and a sports story intertwine and dovetail as neatly as what happened in 2000 sports. In November, the nation was at odds, over vote-counting in Florida, and whether George W. Bush or Al Gore was the rightfully elected president.
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Right at the same time, the college football community was at odds over who should be ranked #2 in the country, and thus get a shot at the national title—and oddly enough, it was taking place in Florida, as the combatants were Miami and Florida State.
Florida State won that little skirmish, but Oklahoma won the war. The Sooners went undefeated and won the national championship, as Bob Stoops brought the program back to national prominence.
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One three-peat was completed and another one began, as the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Lakers both won championships. For the Lakers, it was the first title of the Shaq/Kobe era and would be followed by two more in succession.
For the Yankees, their victory in the Subway Series over the Mets, marked the third straight World Series triumph for the Pinstripes. The last time an MLB team had three-peated was 1972-74 and the team was the Oakland A’s. Appropriately enough, 2000 saw Oakland return to prominence after eight years of irrelevance.
The “Moneyball” approach of Billy Beane that would one day be immortalized in Hollywood, made its first appearance on the October stage. The A’s took the Yankees to a decisive fifth game in the Division Series before losing, the toughest battle New York got en route to history.
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The 2000 Stanley Cup playoffs provided a lot of excitement, and the best of it came in the conference finals round. The matchups themselves—defending champion Dallas facing Colorado in the West, and blood rivals New Jersey and Philadelphia in the East—were good enough. Then, both conference finals went the full seven games.
New Jersey and Dallas were the ones who prevailed. There would be no repeat Cup for the Stars. New Jersey stepped up and won a good six-game Stanley Cup Finals to win their second championship in six years.
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Michigan State basketball was a rising force under head coach Tom Izzo, and 2000 marked their breakthrough year.
In a year where the NCAA Tournament was gutted by upsets, the Spartans were the one favorite who lived up to advance billing, and they won their first national title since the days of Magic Johnson back in 1979. The tough defense and hard-nosed play Izzo has since made a staple of life in East Lansing had arrived.
No one knew more about tough defense and hard-nosed play in the year 2000 than the Baltimore Ravens did though. Despite not having had a winning season since relocating from Cleveland for the 1996 season, Baltimore came on strong down the stretch and then rolled through the playoffs.
The defense, coordinated by Marvin Lewis and led by a young Ray Lewis was one of the best in the Super Bowl era of the NFL. The Ravens won the first Super Bowl for the franchise, and the first for the city since the Colts did it in 1970.
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