Springtime In New York: The 1994 New York Rangers, Knicks & Yankees
TheSportsNotebook’s focus on fan markets has always divided New York into two distinct groups—the Aristocracy, which falls in line with the Yankees, Giants and Rangers. And the Peasantry, which backs in the Mets, Jets and Islanders. The two classes in the city’s caste system converge on the Knicks in the NBA, although the arrival of the Nets to Brooklyn has even thrown that up for grabs.
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But for our purposes here, 1994 was a terrific year to be a part of the aristocratic New York sports class. The Rangers hadn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1940, but broke though and won their first championship in 54 years. Mark Messier led the way and did with a flair for the dramatic in consecutive seven-game series in both the Eastern Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals.
The Aristocracy also saw the Yankees return to prominence. The Yanks hadn’t made the postseason since 1981, nor seriously competed for it since 1988. They would have broken that string in 1994 had it not been for the players’ strike of August. New York had the best record in the American League at the time of the strike, and while the year didn’t get its ultimate fulfillment, at least the winning was back in the Bronx.
And our aristocratic elite shared in the joy and anguish of the entire city when it came to the Knicks. Pat Riley’s team finally broke through the barrier that was the Chicago Bulls, aided in no small part by the retirement of Michael Jordan. The Knicks then won a thrilling seven-game series over the Indiana Pacers to reach the NBA Finals. New York got to within a basket of the NBA title before ultimately falling to the Houston Rockets.
All in all, it was a sunny springtime in New York, with the Rangers winning a title, the Knicks nearly doing so, and the Yankees giving everyone a taste of winning baseball again.
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