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Top ’10 New York sports storylines

Plenty of characters dominated the New York sports scene this past year. There was some winning, but a lot more losing.

10. Shot to the heart
A season that started so promising with the signing of Marian Gaborik and seven straight victories out of the gate ended in heartbreak in Philadelphia. The Blueshirts blew a 1-0 lead, then Henrik Lundqvist let in two shootout goals to the Flyers, who stole the Rangers spot in the postseason.

9. Russia with love
The NBA finalized the sale of the Nets to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov in May. The new owner hired Avery Johnson, courted LeBron James and stockpiled draft picks to make a run at Carmelo Anthony. So far, he has nothing to show for it, except for a PG-13 verbal exchange with the best owner in the NBA, Mark Cuban.

8. Storm is brewing
St. John’s return to relevancy starts with Steve Lavin. The slicked-back hair, up-tempo offense and NCAA?tournament pedigree already made an impact before the Red Storm even tipped of their season. Lavin’s 2011 recruiting class is ranked in the top five on several websites, while his current squad looks like a bubble team.

7. So long, Boss
Arguably the most influential owner in baseball history suffered a fatal heart attack on July 13. George Steinbrenner was the longest-tenured owner in Yankees history and built them into the franchise they are today. The team embodied his phrase, “winning is second to breathing,” and won 11 AL pennants and seven World Series under his ownership.

6. Star is born
Mark Sanchez became “The Sanchise,” leading the Jets to the AFC?championship game. The rookie quarterback became more than a game manager in the playoffs, throwing for 257 yards and two touchdowns against Peyton?Manning and the Colts. Sanchez was the reason the Jets entered this season as a title contender.

5. Mets’ mess
Carlos Beltran, who signed a $120 million contract in 2005, decided to get surgery without the Mets consent and missed the first three months of a miserable 79-83 campaign. It was one of the many blunders by GM Omar Minaya, who was replaced — as was manager Jerry Manuel, after the season.

4. Yankees lose
Derek Jeter had the worst season of his storied career in pinstripes, but somehow Yankees fans figured the team would flip on a switch in the postseason. The lights, though, went out in the ALCS, as Colby Lewis, not Cliff?Lee, delivered the knockout blow to the aging Bombers, who were outscored by 19 runs.

3. Yankees lose again
The Yankees didn’t shed many tears because they knew what was coming — Cliff Lee and/or Carl Crawford. GM Brian Cashman, though, struck out twice, as Lee went back to the Phillies and Crawford joined the Red Sox, who are the AL?favorites in 2011. For the first time in a long time, the Yankees didn’t get their man in free agency.

2. LeBurned
Knicks general manager Donnie Walsh had a plan when he took over in 2008 — give up on building a competitive team in order to make a run at two or more elite stars in the summer of 2010. Like Cashman, Walsh whiffed on his prime target LeBron James. Despite signing Amare Stoudemire to a $100 million deal, James held a one-hour special on ESPN to announce his decision. The two-time reigning NBA?MVP was taking his talents to South Beach. All that build-up for a colossal letdown. Walsh was left scrambling and eventually signed Raymond Felton, which hasn’t worked out too badly. His next target:?Carmelo.

And the top New York sports story of 2010 ...

1. Rex’s circus stays in town
Just in case you forgot sports was entertainment, enter Rex Ryan.

On the field, Ryan’s aggressive blitz packages propelled the Jets to their first conference championship appearance since 1998.

Off the field, the Jets were must-see TV. So much so that HBO filmed them for its hit show, “Hard Knocks.”?Before shooting started during training camp, Ryan spent his offseason talking trash, flicking off fans and going on a cookie diet. In late summer, contract negotiations with All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis turned nasty — and when he finally returned, Braylon Edwards was arrested for a DWI. The capper? A foot-fetish video possibly starring him and his wife hit the Internet.

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