And the last shall be the first. Although not much was made of it, the last NBA champion, the Warriors, also won the league’s first title. So the Warriors span the NBA championship bridge from the first in Philadelphia to the last in Golden State.
The year was 1947. Less than two years after the end of World War II, Harry Truman was President, The Best Years of Our Lives won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier,and ENIAC, the world’s first electronic digital computer, was turned back on after being shut down for a nine-month refurbishment.
And the Philadelphia Warriors won the championship in the inaugural 1946-47 Basketball Association of America (BAA) season. Following the 1948–49 season (the BAA’s third season of play), the BAA and the National Basketball League merged to form the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Warriors championship is considered the first NBA title.
Eddie Gottlieb coached the Philadelphia five that year and forward Joe Fulks won the NBA’s first scoring crown, averaging 23.2 points per game. Fulks, who joined the Marines in 1943 and served in the the South Pacific, scored 37 points in Game One of the Finals, including 21 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Warriors to an 84-71 win over the Stags. Jumpin’ Joe is #18 in the team picture above.
Philly won the next two games, and wrapped up the series in five when forward Howie Dallmar snapped a tie by nailing a jump shot with less than a minute remaining to give the Warriors the lead for good in an 83-80 victory. Fulks led all scorers with 34 points in the clincher.
Led by Paul Arizin, Neil Johnston and Tom Gola, the Philadelphia Warriors also captured the 1956 NBA championship, beating the Fort Wayne Pistons in five games. Following the 1961-62 season, Wilt Chamberlain and the Warriors moved to San Francisco.
Later renamed Golden State, the Warriors swept the Washington Bullets in the 1974-75 NBA Finals. Hall of Famer Rick Barry averaged 30.6 points per game for Golden State that season.
In addition to their four championships, the Warriors lost three NBA Finals, to the Baltimore Bullets in 1948 while representing Philadelphia, and in 1964 to the Boston Celtics and 1967 to the Philadelphia 76ers, both while playing in San Francisco. Al Attles, a lifelong Warriors guard, played in both Finals and later coached Golden State to the 1975 NBA championship.
If you liked this blog, you might like: The 1947 Holy Cross Crusaders were another great basketball team. Read the SportsLifer – Holy Cross was Once King of Hoops.
Stephen Matteau, stick raised, celebrates the greatest OT goal in New York Rangers history.
Derek Stepan’s overtime goal the other night propelled the New York Rangers past the Washington Capitals into the Eastern Conference finals. The Game 7 goal was one of the biggest OT tallies in Ranger history. Here are 10 to remember:
1. Matteau, Matteau, Matteau: Stephen Matteau’s wraparound goal early in the second overtime in Game 7 beat Devils’ goalie Martin Brodeur and sent the Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup finals, where they would end a fabled 54-year championship drought. The Howie Rose call “Matteau, Matteau, Matteau” lives on in Rangers lore. Matteau also scored a double overtime goal in Game 3.
2. Triple Threat: Bryon Hextall scored an overtime game-winner at the 2:07 mark in Game 6 as the Rangers beat the Maple Leafs, 3-2, to win the 1940 Stanley Cup. Alf Pike in Game 1 and Muzz Patrick in double overtime of Game 5 also scored OT winners as the Blueshirts captured their third Stanley Cup.
3. Cup Winner: Bill Cook became the first player to score a Cup-winning goal in overtime as the Rangers beat Toronto, 1-0, in the 1933 finals. The Rangers would vacate Madison Square Garden for the circus after a first game victory, and took the best-of-five series in four games. Cook was the team’s first captain and was later elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
4. Stepan, Stepan, Stepan: Derek Stepan buried a rebound midway through the first overtime and the Rangers knocked out Washington in a tense, seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal in 2015. Each game was decided by a single goal.
5. The Stemmer: Pete Stemkowski scored in triple overtime to end the fifth longest game in Rangers history and set up a Game 7 showdown with the Blackhawks in the 1971 semifinals. Despite Stemkowski’s heroics, which also featured an OT winner in Game 1, Chicago won the series in seven games.
6. Gravy Train: Adam Graves scored at 14:08 of the first overtime to lead the Rangers past the Devils and into the 1997 Eastern Conference finals. The 2-1 victory enabled the Blueshirts to win the series in five games despite losing the opener.
7. Raleigh Rally: Center Don “Bones” Raleigh scored overtime goals in Games 4 and 5 to beat the Red Wings in the 1950 Stanley Cup finals. However Detroit won Games 6 and 7, the last in double overtime after Raleigh’s shot hit the crossbar, to deny the Rangers.
8. Hot Rod: All-time Rangers leading goal scorer Rod Gilbert (406 goals), pictured at left, scored on a slap shot at 4:20 of the first overtime as the Rangers beat the Flyers, 2-1, in Game 4 of the 1974 semifinals. Philadelphia won the series in seven games, then beat Boston for its first Stanley Cup.
9. Gaborik’s Goal: Marian Gaborik’s tally at 14:41 of the third overtime gave the Rangers a 2-1 win over the Capitals in Game 3 of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals. It was the third longest game in New York franchise history.
10. Hagelin’s Heroics: Carl Hagelin’s goal in the first overtime of the 2015 first round against Pittsburgh gave the Rangers the series in five games. It marked the team’s series-clinching OT goal since 1997, and the first at Madison Square Garden since Stephan Matteau’s gamer 21 years ago.
Workin’ overtime: Esa Tikkanen scored a pair of OT winners in a first round five-game series win in 1997…Bob Nevin delivered the clincher in Game 6 of a 1971 first-round series victory over Toronto…Fred Cook scored at 19:32 of the third overtime in the second longest game in Rangers history in the 1932 semifinals against Montreal.
Football broke out at a baseball game on July 17, 1990, when the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees did battle at Yankee Stadium. That night, two-sports stars Bo JacksonBo Jackson and Deion SandersDeion Sanders, playing center field for their respective ballclubs, put on a display of power and speed that wowed the 26,777 in attendance.
In the first inning, Jackson hit a two-run homer to dead center, just out of reach of a leaping Sanders. In his second at-bat, Bo said go as he crushed a long home run which landed three-quarters of the way up in the right center field bleachers, more than 450 feet from the plate.
Before Jackson came to the plate for the third time in the fifth inning, New York manager Stump Merrill visited the mound and asked Yankee starter Andy Hawkins how he intended to pitch Jackson. “Outside,” Hawkins replied. “It better be way outside,” said Merrill. Hawkins pitched outside and Jackson went with the pitch, hammering a more pedestrian two-run blast over the right field fence. In his first three at-bats, Bo had three HRs and seven RBIs. See video.
With the Yankees trailing 8-4 in the bottom of the sixth and a man on first, Sanders hit a line drive in the right center field gap which eluded a diving Jackson and rolled all the way to the wall. Sanders took a wide turn around third, crashed into catcher Mike Macfarlane, and then scrambled to touch home plate before Macfarlane could retrieve the ball for an inside-the-park home run. See video.
Jackson injured his left shoulder on the play and had to leave the game, killing any chance of a record-tying four home runs in a single game. Deion’s HR was hit against Mel Stottlemyre, Jr., son of the former standout Yankee right-hander. Oh, by the way, the Royals won the game, 10-7. See box score.
Ironically Jackson was drafted in the second round of the 1982 draft by the Yankees. But the shortstop from Bessemer, Alabama, decided to play football at Auburn University, where he won the Heisman Trophy in 1995 and was selected the first pick overall in the 1986 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the running back never played for the Bucs.
Tampa Bay owner Hugh Culverhouse gave Bo at ultimatum – play football or baseball but not both. Jackson decided on baseball, and a year later resumed his NFL career with the Los Angeles Raiders, before a serious hip injury suffered in the playoffs ended his four-year career. Jackson played for the Royals, Chicago White Sox and California Angels before retiring following the 1994 season. He is still the only athlete to be named an All-Star in two major American sports.
Sanders, a cornerback at Florida State, began both his baseball career with the Yankees and his football career with the Atlanta Falcons in 1989. He is the only player to hit a home run and score a touchdown in the same week (he achieved both in his rookie season), and the only athlete to play in both a World Series and a Super Bowl. Deion batted .533 in the 1992 World Series, and won a Super Bowl in 1995 while playing for the 49ers.
Sanders played for the Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins in the NFL, and after sitting out several seasons, made a comeback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2005. In baseball, he played for the Yankees, Atlanta Braves,Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants.
Yankee Gridiron Connections: George Halas played six games in the outfield for the Yankees in 1919 before Babe Ruth came aboard the following season. For nearly 50 years, Halas was a player, coach and owner of the Chicago Bears and won six NFL championships…John Elway, a third baseman, played two years in the minors with the Yankees, but went on to lasting glory as a quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Elway won Super Bowls in both 1998 and 1998, his final two seasons in football.
With the NFL draft on tap next week, what better time to review the top 10 drafts in NFL history.
Players are ultimately judged by election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and that’s the main criteria for this exercise. It’s difficult to rate and rank recent drafts, since many of those players – at least the good ones – are still active and years from Hall of Fame eligibility. Here’s the SL top 10:
1. 1957 – Green Bay selected Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung of Notre Dame with the first overall pick. Len Dawson (5th), Jimmy Brown (6th), right, and Jim Parker (8th) were also first rounders and Hall of Famers. In all, eight eventual Hall of Famers were picked, including Tommy McDonald in the third round, Sonny Jurgensen in the fourth, Henry Jordan in the fifth and Gene Hickerson in the seventh. Cleveland had three Hall of Fame picks in Brown, generally considered the best running back in history, Jordan, a defensive tackle, and Hickerson, who played offensive guard. Jordan played two years with the Browns before being traded to the Packers. Jon Arnett, John Brodie and Ron Kramer, standouts in their own right, were the second, third and fourth overall selections.
2. 1967 – This class also had eight Hall of Famers, four of them — Bob Griese, Floyd Little, Alan Page and Gene Upshaw – going in the first round. Ken Houston, Willie Lanier, Lem Barney and Rayfield Wright were the other HOFers in this draft class. Bubba Smith was the first overall pick, and other notables included Gene Washington, John Gilliam and Rick Volk. The classes of 1957 and 1967 have more Hall of Fame inductees than any others in NFL history.
3. 1983 – The greatest quarterback class ever. Hall of Famers John Elway, #1 overall, Jim Kelly (14th) and Dan Marino (27th) were all drafted in the first round, along with Todd Blackledge (7th), Tony Eason (15th) and Ken O’Brien (27th). HOFers Eric Dickerson (2nd), Bruce Matthews (9th) and Darnell Green,(28th) were also drafted in the first round. In total, a record six Hall of Famers were picked in round one. Richard Dent, another Hall of Famer, went in the eighth round.
4. 1974 – Pittsburgh built a dynasty with this draft, as wide receiver Lynn Swann (1st round), left, linebacker Jack Lambert (2nd), wide receiver John Stallworth (4th) and center Mike Webster (5th) were all eventually enshrined in Canton. Dave Casper of Oakland was drafted in the second round.
5. 1968: There weren’t a ton of iconic stats in this class, but there were six Hall of Famers – Elvin Bethea, Art Shell, Ron Yary, Charlie Sanders, Curley Culp and Larry Csonka. Ron Yary was the first overall pick, and Ken Stabler, Claude Humphrey and Harold Jackson were also 1968 class members.
6. 1981 – The Giants picked linebacker Lawrence Taylor second overall after the Saints selected running back George Rogers. Taylor and San Francisco first round pick safety Ronnie Lott were Hall of Famers, along with defenders Mike Singletary, Howie Long and Rickey Jackson, all picked in round two, and offensive guard Russ Grimm, a third-round selection. Perhaps the greatest defensive draft class ever.
7. 1989 – This top-heavy draft saw four Hall of Fame players selected in the first five picks – Troy Aikman (1st), Barry Sanders (3rd), Derrick Thomas (4th) and Deion Sanders (5th). Lem Barney and Willie Lanier, both second-round selections, are now enshrined in Canton as well.
8. 1964 – Bob Brown, Charley Taylor, Carl Eller and Paul Warfield were drafted in round one, Mel Renfro and Paul Krause in round two.
1952 – Les Richter, Ollie Matson, Huge McElheney and Frank Gifford were first-round selections and Gino Marchetti, right, was the first pick in round two. Marchetti and Matson played together at the University of San Francisco in 1951 before the Dons dropped football. A third member of that team, offensive tackle Bob St. Clair who passed away this week, was drafted in 1953. No other college football team ever had three future Pro Football Hall of Famers on the roster at the same time.
10. 1961 – Mike Ditka, Jimmy Johnson, Herb Adderley and Bob Lilly all went in the first round. Scrambling quarterback Fran Tarkenton was top pick in round three.
Recent vintage drafts
1992 – Four Hall of Famers were drafted — Willie Roaf and Jerome Bettis in round one, Michael Strahan in round two and Will Shields in round three.
1995 – Tampa Bay had two HOF picks in the first round, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks. Running back Curtis Martin went to New England in round three.
1998 – Peyton Manning was the first overall pick by Indianapolis. Charles Woodson went number four overall. Ryan Leaf, number two overall, was a huge bust.
2004 – Eli Manning went first overall to San Diego, then was shipped to the Giants for Philip Rivers. A third quarterback, Ben Rothelsberger, went 11th overall to Pittsburgh.
2007 – Some solid first round picks, including Calvin Johnson (2nd overall), Joe Thomas (3rd), Adrian Peterson (7th) and Marshawn Lynch (12th). All have worked out good. The first overall pick JaMarcus Russell by Oakland — not so good.
2011 – Cam Newton (1st), AJ Green (4th), Julio Jones (6th) and JJ Watt (11th) were starry first-round picks in this class.
The first draft
The first NFL draft was held in 1936. Hall of Fame tackle Joe Stydahar was picked by the Bears in the first round, #6 overall. Alphonse “Tuffy” Leemans (2nd round), Wayne Millner Boston Redskins (8th) and Dan Fortmann (9th) were the other future Hall of Famers from this inaugural class.
The first overall pick that year was Jay Berwanger, the University of Chicago halfback and winner of the first Heisman Trophy. Berwanger was picked by the Eagles, who traded his rights to the Bears. However owner and coach George Halas could not convince Berwanger to sign with Chicago. He reputedly wanted $1,000 per game.
Berwanger later expressed regret that he did not accept Halas’ offer. After graduating, Berwanger worked briefly as a sportswriter (reputedly he wrote one of the first blogs) and later became a manufacturer of plastic car parts. He was very modest about the Heisman, and used the trophy as a doorstop in his library.
Over the years, New York athletes have worn some of the most famous numbers in all of sports. Icons like Babe Ruth (#3), Lou Gehrig (#4) and Joe DiMaggio (#5) sit atop a long and storied list of Yankees, who will have retired all single digit numbers as soon as they get around to Derek Jeter (#2). Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson wore #42, which has now been retired by major league baseball. Willie Mays wore #24 when he roamed center field for the New York Giants.
And there are so many more. Legends such as Lawrence Taylor (#56) with the New York Football Giants, Joe Namath (#12) with the Jets, Walt Frazier (#10) with the Knicks and Wayne Gretzky (#99) with the Rangers, just to name a few.
As you might expect, since there are more players per team and higher numbers in football, the Giants top our list of top New York athletes by number with 36. Every team is represented, even the Giants and Dodgers, who left New York for California in 1958. There are 21 Yankees, 16 Jets, 7 Mets, 6 Knicks, 5 Rangers, 3 Dodgers and Nets, 2 Devils and an Islander and baseball Giant on the list. If you’re counting with me that adds up to 101, with Casey Stengel (#37) getting the nod as both Yankee and Met manager.
Here are the top New York players by number from 0-99, with other candidates also listed. Competition was tough in some spots, most notably #10, where Walt Frazier edged out Pele, Eli Manning, Phil Rizzuto and Fran Tarkenton, and #42, where Mariano Rivera and Charlie Conerly failed to make the cut.
The New York numbers list:
0 – Orlando Woolridge (Nets)
1 – Pee Wee Reese (Dodgers)
Eddie Giacomin, Billy Martin, Earle Combs
2 – Derek Jeter (Yankees)
3 – Babe Ruth (Yankees)
Bill Terry, Harry Howell, Ken Daneyko
4 – Lou Gehrig (Yankees)
Mel Ott, Duke Snider, Tuffy Leemans, Scott Stevens
5 – Joe DiMaggio (Yankees)
Denis Potvin, David Wright
6 – Joe Torre (Yankees)
Tony Lazzeri, Carl Furillo
7 – Mickey Mantle (Yankees)
Mel Hein, Rod Gilbert, Ken O’Brien, Carmelo Anthony
8 – Yogi Berra (Yankees)
Bill Dickey, Walt Bellamy, Gary Carter
9 – Richie Guerin (Knicks)
Roger Maris, Graig Nettles, Andy Bathgate, Adam Graves, Clark Gillies, Hank Bauer, Charlie Keller
10 – Walt Frazier (Knicks)
Pele, Eli Manning, Phil Rizzuto, Fran Tarkenton, Brad van Pelt
11 – Mark Messier (Rangers)
Carl Hubbell, Lefty Gomez, Phil Simms
12 – Joe Namath (Jets)
13 – Don Maynard (Jets)
Alex Rodriguez, Mark Jackson, Odell Beckham, Dave Jennings
14 – Gil Hodges (Dodgers)
YA Tittle, Bill Skowron
15 – Thurman Munson (Yankees)
Red Ruffing, Earl Monroe, Dick Mcguire, Jeff Hostetler, John McLean
16 – Frank Gifford (Giants)
Whitey Ford, Dwight Gooden
17 – Keith Hernandez (Mets)
18 – Darryl Strawberry (Mets)
Don Larsen, Phil Jackson
19 – Willis Reed (Knicks)
Bryan Trottier, Dave Righetti, Jean Ratelle
20 –Allan Houston (Knicks)
Jorge Posada, Monte Irvin, Jimmy Patton, Joe Morris
21 – Paul O’Neill (Yankees)
22 – Mike Bossy (Islanders)
Dave DeBusschere, Allie Reynolds, Dick Lynch
23 – Don Mattingly (Yankees)
24 – Willie Mays (Giants)
Bill Bradley, Derrell Revis, Robinson Cano, Ottis Anderson
25 – Bill Mclchionni (Nets)
Dick Nolan, Jason Giambi, Joe Pepitone, Bill Cartwright, Mark Collins
26 – Patrik Elias (Devils)
Wade Boggs, Orlando Hernandez
27 – Rodney Hampton (Giants)
Scott Niedermayer, Alexi Kovalev
28 – Curtis Martin (Jets)
29 – Catfish Hunter (Yankees)
30 – Martin Brodeur (Devils)
Bernard King, Henrik Lundqvist, Dave Meggett, Eddie Lopat, John Davidson
31 – Dave Winfield (Yankees)
John Franco, Mike Piazza, Billy Smith
32 – Julius Erving (Nets)
Elston Howard, Sandy Koufax, Al Blozis
33 – Patrick Ewing (Knicks)
34 – Charles Oakley (Knicks)
John Vanbiesbrouck, Don Chandler
35—Mike Richter (Rangers)
36 – David Cone (Yankees)
37 – Casey Stengel (Yankees/Mets)
38 – Bob Tucker (Giants)
39 – Roy Campanella (Dodgers)
40 – Joe Morrison
Lindy McDaniel, Mark Pavelich
41 – Tom Seaver (Mets)
42 –Jackie Robinson (Dodgers)
Mariano Rivera, Charlie Conerly
43 – Spider Lockhart (Giants)
44 – Reggie Jackson (Yankees)
John Riggins, Ahmad Bradshaw
45 – Emlen Tunnell (Giants)
Tug McGraw, John Franco
46 – Andy Pettitte (Yankees)
47 – Luis Arroyo (Yankees)
48 – Jacob deGrom (Mets)
Andy Pafko, Kenny Hill, Bobby Humphrey
49 – Ron Guidry (Yankees)
50 – Ken Strong (Giants)
51 – Bernie Williams (Yankees)
52– Buck Williams (Nets)
Jon Schmitt, CC Sabathia
53 – Harry Carson (Giants)
54 – Goose Gossage (Yankees)
55—Hideki Matsui (Yankees)
56 –Lawrence Taylor (Giants)
57 – Johan Santana (Mets)
John Wetteland, Mo Lewis
58 – Carl Banks (Giants)
59 – Kyle Clifton (Giants)
60 – Larry Grantham (Jets)
D’Brickeshaw Ferguson, Brad Benson
61 – Rick Nash (Rangers)
62 – Al Atkinson (Jets)
Joba Chamberlain, Carl Hagelin
63 – Karl Nelson (Giants)
64 – Jim Burt (Giants)
65 – Joe Fields (Jets)
66 – Jack Stroud (Giants)
David Diehl, Randy Rasmussen
67 – Dave Herman (Jets)
Bill Ard, Kareem McKenzie
68 – Kevin Mawae (Jets)
Jaromir Jagr,Dellin Betances
69 – Rich Seubert (Giants)
70 – Sam Huff (Giants)
71 – Dave Tollefson (Giants)
72 – Ose Umenyiora (Giants)
73 – Joe Klecko (Jets)
74 – Nick Mangold (Jets)
75 – George Martin (Giants)
Jim Katcavage, Winston Hill
76 – Rosey Grier (Giants)
Jumbo Elliott, Chris Snee
77 – Phil Esposito (Rangers)
78 – Jerome Salley (Giants)
79 – Roosevelt Brown (Giants)
80 – Victor Cruz (Giants)
John Elliott, Wayne Chrebet, Jeremy Shockey
81 – Andy Robustelli (Giants)
Amani Toomer, Gerry Philbin
82 – Mario Manningham (Giants)
83 – George Sauer (Jets)
84 – Harland Svare (Giants)
85 – Del Shofner (Giants)
86 – Verlon Bigggs (Jets)
87 – Howard Cross (Giants)
Pete Lammons, Domenik Hixon
88 – Al Toon (Jets)
Pat Summerall, Eric Lindros
89 – Mark Bavaro (Giants)
90 – Jason Pierre-Paul (Giants)
91 – Justin Tuck (Giants)
92 – Michael Strahan (Giants)
93 – Marty Lyons (Jets)
94 – John Abraham (Jets)
95 – Frank Ferrera (Giants)
96 – Barry Cofield (Giants)
97 – Mathias Kiwanuka (Giants)
98 – Jesse Armstead (Giants)
99 – Wayne Gretzky (Rangers)
Mark Gastineau, Steve DeOssie
Bobby Orr a Blackhawk. Bryan Trottier a Penguin. Canadiens heroes in Ranger uniforms. As incongruous as it seems, these 10 Hall of Famers and others finished their careers in strange and unusual places
1. Bobby Orr – The man many consider the greatest hockey player ever – and certainly the greatest defenseman in NHL history – Orr played his first two seasons with the Boston Bruins, winning eight straight Norris Trophies, three Hart Trophies, two Conn Smythe Trophies, and a pair of Art Ross Trophies as the only defenseman ever to lead the NHL in scoring. Orr also had a record +124 rating in 1970-71. He wound up playing 26 games over two seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks before knee injuries forced him to retire in 1978.
2. Ray Bourque – Another legendary Boston defenseman, Bourque won five Norris Trophies and scored 395 goals during his 20-year career in Boston. Bourque then went west to Colorado for two seasons, finally winning an elusive Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 2001. He still holds NHL records for goals (410), assists (1,169) and points (1,579) by a defenseman.
3. Brian Leetch – Like Orr and Bourque before him, Leetch won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year. He also won the Norris Trophy twice, and a Conn Smythe Trophy with the Rangers in 1994. After 17 years in New York, Leetch was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for prospects Maxim Kondratiev, Jarkko Immon, and future first and second round draft picks in 2004, then closed out his career in Boston a year later.
4. Bryan Trottier – He’s the all-time Islander leader in a multitude of team categories, including games, assists and points. He won a Calder, Art Ross, Hart and Conn Smythe Trophy. And he led the Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cup titles beginning in 1980. Trotts signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Penguins after the 1990 season and won two more Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. He retired after the 1994 season.
5. Guy Lafleur – This Montreal winger was already a Hall of Famer and retired for three years when he made a comeback with the Rangers in 1988. A five-time Stanley Cup champion with the Canadiens with three scoring titles and two MVPs, Lafleur, right, played his final two seasons with the Quebec Nordiques.
6. Doug and Max Bentley – The Bentley Brothers from Delisle, Saskatchewan, had similar careerr paths, Doug, the elder brother, broken into the NHL in 1939 and played 12 seasons with Chicago Blackhawks. Max joined Chicago the following year and was traded to Toronto in 1947, where he won three Stanley Cups. The Bentleys finished their careers wearing the Rangers crest in 1953-54. Max scored 245 career goals and Doug 219.
7. Bernie Geoffrion – Boom Boom played 14 years in Montreal and was one of the first players to score 50 goals in a season before he retired in 1964. Geoffrion won six Stanley Cups and Calder, Hart and Ross Trophies with the Habs. He joined the Rangers in 1966, and retired again in 1968. Boomer later coached the Rangers, Atlanta Flames and Canadiens.
8. Eddie Giacomin – The popular goalie played 11 seasons with the Rangers before being placed on waivers and claimed by the Detroit Red Wings on October 29, 1975. Giacomin was an outstanding netminder with the Blueshirts. Ironically, Giacomin’s first game with the Red Wings was Halloween, two days after he joined the team. Madison Square Garden partisans voiced their displeasure with the deal, and cheered on a 6-4 win for Giacomin, left. Seeing limited duty, Eddie finished his career with Detroit in 1978.
9. Ching Johnson – The Hall of Fame defenseman played 10 years with the Rangers and was a member of the 1928 and 1933 Stanley Cup champions. He was signed as a free agent by the New York Americans, and was scoreless in 31 games in his final campaign.
10.Sid Abel – A member of Detroit’s famed Production Line with Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay in the late 40s and early 50s, Abel won the Hart Trophy in 1949 and finished in the top five in scoring four times. He was traded to Chicago for cash before the 1952 season, and retired a year later.
Honorable Mention – Marcel Dionne, fourth all-time with 731 goals, drafted by Detroit, played most of his career with the Los Angeles Kings and wound up with the Rangers; Bernie Federko, ended his career with the Red Wings in 1990 after 13 seasons with the St. Louis Blues; Pierre Pilote, three-time Norris winner with Chicago was traded to Toronto for Jim Pappin where he played one-year before retiring in 1968: and Bjore Salming, the first Swedish born player to earn an All-Star berth, signed as a free agent by Detroit after 16 seasons in Toronto.
Fans storm the court after Albany buzzer-beater denied Stony Brook its first NCAA ticket.
For dozens of big-time programs, an invitation to the NCAA Tournament is all but presumed every year. Failure to make the tournament is considered a huge disappointment. Coaches have been fired for less.
But not so for the vast majority of teams, some who have played Cinderella and many others who have never made the cut. Perfect example, Stony Brook. The Seawolves were literally less than a second away from the first NCAA berth in the team’s history when Albany State crushed their dreams with a dagger three-pointer at the buzzer in the American East championship game.Oh my.
Only five of the original 160 NCAA schools have never made the tournament, which began in 1939. They are Army, The Citadel, Northwestern, St. Francis (NY) and William & Mary. St. Francis came close this year, advancing to the championship game of the Northeast Conference tournament this week, only to bow out to Robert (Bob) Morris, 66-63, on their home court in Brooklyn.
Army never made it despite being coached by two all-time greats, Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski. But Northwestern may be the most puzzling of all the NCAA wallflowers. Northwestern began men’s basketball in 1901, was retro-picked as national champion in 1931, and even hosted the first NCAA championship game in 1939 and the Final Four in 1956. Playing in the Big Ten, the Wildcats have not had a winning record in conference play since 1968, when LBJ was President. They finally managed their first 20-win season in 2009.
All told, there are 44 Division 1 teams that have never tasted March Madness. Some notables beyond the five originals mentioned above are Maine, New Hampshire, Hartford, Bryant College, Youngstown State, Grambling and Presbyterian.
Meanwhile North Florida, UC Irvine and Buffalo are going to the tournament for the first time. North Florida’s Ospreys got the automatic bid after knocking off another NCAA virgin, the South Carolina Upstate Spartans, 63-57 in the Atlantic Sun championship game. And the University of California-Irvine punched its ticket after beating Hawaii, 67-58, in the Big West title game. For the Anteaters, it’s the first tournament appearance in the 38-year history of the school’s basketball program. And Buffalo cracked the brackets with ts first Mid-American Conference Tournament championship, an 89-84 win over top-seeded Central Michigan
In 2013, Florida Gulf Coast, the 15th seed in the East, won the Atlantic Sun title, and ran off two straight wins in its first NCAA, beating second-seed Georgetown and seventh-seed San Diego State before losing to Florida in the round of 16.
Last year, both Cal Poly and North Carolina Central cracked the NCAA code with first-time tournament appearances.