TheSportsNotebook’s series celebrating top fan markets has already paid tribute to the 1994 springtime enjoyed in New York City, when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup and the Knicks made the NBA Finals. Nine years later, the exact same spring was enjoyed across the George Washington Bridge in the Meadowlands, as the Devils won the Cup and the Nets made the Finals.
There were some differences to be sure—the ’94 Rangers ended over a half-century of agony in winning their championship. The ’03 Devils put the finishing touches on a little dynasty, taking their third Stanley Cup in nine years.
And the ’94 Knicks had a breakthrough year, making the Finals for the first time under the regime of Pat Riley and Patrick Ewing.The ’03 Nets put the finishing touches on what was at least an Eastern Conference Dynasty. The 2003 season marked New Jersey’s second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, although they never did win it all.
Thus, in a world where the Sopranos have displaced the Corleones as the pre-eminent mob family in American popular culture, we can’t overlook New Jersey. Let’s celebrate 2003 in the Garden State. Martin Brodeur dominated in goal. Jason Kidd lit it up on the basketball court and set the stage for his eventual return to the franchise as head coach. And the New Jersey Devils won the Stanley Cup and the Nets reached the NBA Finals.
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