The year in New York sports was a particularly memorable one; let’s take a look back at ten stories that sent shockwaves across the city in 2015.
10. Chris Mullin takes over at St. John’s
Former NBA All-Star and Brooklyn native Chris Mullin, who played under the legendary Lou Carnesecca in St. John’s heyday, announced he was returning to his alma mater as head coach on March 30, taking over for the recently dismissed Steve Lavin. Mullin’s first season has started off poorly; the Red Storm posted a 7-6 record before the Christmas break, which includes an embarrassing loss to Incarnate Word on Dec. 18.
9. U.S. women’s soccer team wins World Cup, honored in New York
On July 5, the U.S. women’s soccer team won the World Cup in Vancouver over Japan, 5-2, and was honored in New York on July 10 with a ticker tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes. Abby Wambach, a native of Rochester, NY who amassed 184 goals in international play for Team USA, announced her retirement shortly after the tournament.
8. Islanders leave Long Island for Brooklyn
The Islanders left Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the only building they’ve called home since joining the NHL in 1972, for Brooklyn’s Barclays Center after the 2014-2015 season. The Islanders’ farewell year was a memorable one; they went 47–28–7 (101 points) in the regular season before losing to the Capitals in seven games in the Stanley Cup quarterfinals. The Islanders dropped their Brooklyn debut, 3-2 (OT), to the Blackhawks on Oct. 9.
7. Serena Williams’ Grand Slam bid spoiled in U.S. Open
Flushing, Queens was the site of one of the most stunning sports upsets of 2015. Serena Williams was attempting to become the first women’s tennis player since Steffi Graf (1988) to win all four Grand Slam events in one year, but was defeated in the semifinals of the U.S. Open by the unheralded Roberta Vinci in three sets on Sept. 11. Flavia Pennetta would go on to win the tournament, while Williams would eventually be selected as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year.
6. Knicks set franchise-worst win-loss record in Phil Jackson’s first year
The Knicks brought new meaning to the phrase “from humble beginnings” as they posted a dreadful 17-65 mark in the 2014-2015 season – Phil Jackson’s first full season as team president. But Jackson is managing to keep Carmelo Anthony happy while doing some house-cleaning, and looks to have made a very wise draft pick in Kristaps Porzingis, so there is some hope in the immediate future.
5. C.C. Sabathia checks into rehab
With the Yankees days away from their first playoff game in three years, C.C. Sabathia made a stunning announcement on Oct. 5 that he planned on leaving the team in order to check into alcohol rehab. It capped off another miserable year for the former ace, whose status going into the 2016 season remains unclear.
4. Jason Pierre-Paul involved in a fireworks accident
The Giants’ defense was dealt a serious blow when it was revealed that DE Jason Pierre-Paul had a firework explode in his hand while celebrating Independence Day. Pierre-Paul had his right index finger amputated, and wasn’t able to play in a game until Nov. 8. He’s had his entire right hand wrapped in every game he’s played this season.
3. American Pharoah wins Belmont Stakes, Triple Crown
For the first time since 1978, a horse managed to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes to complete the Triple Crown. American Pharoah, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Victor Espinoza, fought hard to win the Kentucky Derby by a length, then drew away impressively in a muddy rendition of the Preakness. American Pharoah faced seven challengers in the Belmont, but managed to lead every step of the mile-and-a-half journey and won by 5.5 lengths.
2. Geno Smith knocked out by teammate
Preseason fights are not unheard of in the NFL, but this story was simply bizarre. On Aug. 11, Jets QB Geno Smith was “sucker punched” by little-known LB IK Enemkpali in the locker room due to a dispute over a $600 loan. Enemkpali was waived by the club shortly after the incident and was picked up by the Bills, where Rex Ryan took over as head coach after being fired by the Jets earlier in the year. Smith, who was in line to be the Jets’ starter, saw Ryan Fitzpatrick take over at QB, and Fitzpatrick posted the best season of his career. Smith reprieved an injured Fitzpatrick on Nov. 1, but was unable to win the job back.
1. Mets make it to the World Series
The Mets were hovering around .500 through June, but they managed to turn it around and go on a remarkable second-half run to make it all the way to the World Series. Even though they lost the series to the Royals in five games, the Mets captured the imagination of their fans and dominated the sports section throughout the fall. The Mets got tremendous production from trade-deadline acquisition Yoenis Cespedes, and longtime Met Daniel Murphy went on a historic home run streak to carry his team through the NLDS and NLCS.