Sports are weird. They are very much like music in that the sportsmen who are famous or important when your sports consciousness arrives are the one’s who stick with you. My sports consciousness began in the 1980’s. I have memories of my cousin’s in Long Island celebrating the Islanders cup runs, I have memories of my cousin’s Carlos’s wedding, and there being an announcement that the Redskins had one the Super Bowl. But really, everything was about baseball – Doc, Daryl, Keith, Gary, Don, Dave, Rags, Guidry – The Yankees and the Mets.
My Mount Rush more for New York is about media impact and power. These were the guys that could take over the airwaves with a moment or a soundbite. this is MY choice and you’ll disagree, but these are the most important, powerful and vital Sportsmen of New York in my 40 year sports consciousness.
Daryl Strawberry – I was a Keith Hernandez guy, but Daryl had the charisma. He was adored, he was hated and he was the best. His return to the Yankees at the end of his career was a heroic and tragic ending. He carried the tabloids for decade.
Don Mattingly – He was the Yankees during the 80’s The players changed and George fumed. But Donny brought class and was the lineage t0 Jeter. He was cooler than Jeter, but just unlucky to be a Yankee at the wrong time.
Mark Messier – No one remembers this, but New York was indeed a hockey town. And the chants of 1940 were REAL. And 1994 was and is still my favorite New York sports moments. I know where I was, I was in Rockaway at a bar with Nancy, Vern, Jen and the rest of the dirtbags from Rockaway. Messier, talked the talk and delivered. He had two stints with team and was simply a legend.
Mike Tyson – controversial choice because he’s not a team sportsmen. Tyson was as New York as they come. A pigeon flyer from Brownsville and hailed when fighting from the Catskills. He appeared in the New York tabloids and sports pages before he went national. He was larger than life and force of nature. When he became the champ, he was New York’s champ. No one was more famous or infamous.
Honorable mentions for Lawrence Taylor – Derek Jeter, Patrick Ewing, Keith Hernandez, Dwight Gooden, Charles Oakley, David Cone, Mike Piazza , Dave Winfield, Phil Simms, Paul O’Neil