It’s a bleak sports landscape in the Big Apple as we close out 2012. The Jets are mercifully finishing their disastrous 2012 campaign in Buffalo while the Giants’ playoff hopes are on life support as they play the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium and have to pray that other NFL game outcomes work in their favor this Sunday. Hockey fans have had to endure the dreary lockout that the National Hockey League team owners have imposed on their players. The Brooklyn Nets, despite an improved roster and quick start, have struggled mightily this month and are starting to remind us of those putrid New Jersey Nets teams of the last five years.
The Knicks, though, have been a team that has surpassed expectations. While they were certainly considered to be a playoff-caliber team before the start of the season eight weeks ago, few thought that they would be battling LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the Miami Heat for the top spot in the National Basketball Association’s Eastern Conference. Their success is even more amazing when you consider that they have not had the services this season of two key players, guard Iman Shumpert and perennial all-star forward Amar’e Stoudemire, both of whom have been battling an array of injuries.
Carmelo Anthony, whose acquisition in February 2011 was hotly debated by fans and the media, has deserved the “MVP!” chants that he has gotten from the Garden faithful. Anthony’s old Denver Nuggets teammate and now fellow member of the Knicks, JR Smith, has been a scoring machine off the bench, particularly when a three-point shot is needed.
Few had heard of Carmelo’s understudy, Chris Copeland, when the season began, because he had played the first seven years of his pro career in Europe. Chris has shown that while he may technically be a rookie by NBA standards, he plays the game with the skills of a savvy league veteran judging by his ability to crash the boards for rebounds and score from both inside the paint and outside of the three-point arc. He is also one of the most accessible players you’ll find, as he enjoys chatting with fans and talking to the media. One hopes that won’t change as he accrues more NBA time.
Kudos as well to ageless point guard Jason Kidd, who, as per custom, finds the open man on the floor. He has also been a surprisingly potent outside shooter so far this season.
The Knicks have always been terrific in the area of community service. They proved it again last month as team staff joined Stoudemire, Ronnie Brewer and Rasheed Wallace to visit the Edgemere Housing Projects in Far Rockaway to distribute much needed supplies and food to residents in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Brooklyn Nets radio play-by-play man Chris Carrino had a terrific line which he uttered out of frustration when calling last week’s turnover-plagued Jazz-Nets game. “I feel like I am back coaching my 8-year-old son’s team in the Marlboro [NJ] recreation league!”
It’s hard to evaluate Greg McElroy’s first start ever as Jets quarterback considering that his woeful offensive line allowed him to get sacked 11 times by the San Diego Chargers defensive unit. The Jets lost 27-17 in a game that typified their putrid 2012 season.
Gang Green did a smart thing, however, in bringing back veteran wide receiver Braylon Edwards for the last three games of the year. Edwards can still pull in tough catches, and, perhaps more importantly, comes up with some funny quotes even after a loss.
Braylon started his career with the Cleveland Browns and had more than his share of dreary December games on Lake Erie. I asked him if he was looking forward to finishing up the season in Buffalo next week. “You know that it’s going to be a cold, snowy day with a biting wind!” Edwards said with a resigned smile. “I’d rather be playing in Miami!”
Edwards is known for being one of the NFL’s best-dressed players. I asked “Beau Brummel” Braylon what he thought of former Knicks guard Jeremy Lin’s suit and sneakers look that graces the cover of this month’s GQ. “Jeremy Lin doesn’t know anything about style. The only reason that they put him on the cover because he is popular!” Edwards answered with a chuckle.
The Yankees outfield and clubhouse will sure be different next season in light of the departures of free agents Nick Swisher (Cleveland Indians) and Raul Ibanez (Seattle Mariners). Swisher, known for his friendly, upbeat manner, reminiscent to that of Jason Giambi, will certainly be missed by the New York media.
Ibanez was a bit more reserved but Yankees fans will surely remember the inordinate amount of dramatic home runs that he hit last season.
New York’s annual college football bowl game, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, will take place this Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium when Syracuse takes on West Virginia. West Virginia left the Big East Conference two years ago and Syracuse will be leaving in 2013.
The airline industry has always seen sports as an excellent marketing tool. Last week, Major League Baseball announced that Delta Air Lines would be the official air carrier of the upcoming World Baseball Classic, while the Barclays Center announced that JetBlue would be its official airline.
Sportstreet.com is a sports-centric social network that borrows the frameworks established by Facebook and Twitter. Sports fans of teams can interact with other. The site also provides up-to-the-minute scores and headlines from the world of sports.