Welcome back to the 25 for 25 Series! G-Man is turning 25 on July 23rd and to celebrate, I am counting down each of the sporting years I have been alive for. Full rules on the 25 for 25 Main Page.
Stanley Cup Champion: New Jesey Devils (22-18-8, #5 Eastern Conference) – The 1994-95 NHL season shorten to 48 games (all played in 1995) due to a lockout. This championship marked the beginning of the defensive powerhouse that was the 1990s New Jersey Devils-as well as putting the Devils/Flyers rivalry into the stratosphere. Marty Broduer and the Scotts (Stevens and Niedermayer) may have caused a young G-Man plenty hours of depression but if you like good ol’ fashioned grind-it-out-physical hockey, these were your guys. Just ask ’95 MVP Eric Lindros…
NBA Champion: Houston Rockets (47-35, #6 Western Conference) – MJ returned. That is all. Actually it’s not, this season marked the only championship for the great Clyde Drexler. The long-time Blazer was sent to the Rockets mid-year to support Hakeem the Dream and it WORKED. The Rockets became the first 6-Seed to win the title as Hakeem dropped 30+ in their sweep of Shaq and the Orlando Magic.
World Series Champion: Atlanta Braves (90-54, #1 National League) – The World Series finally came back after the 1994-95 Players Strike and a 144-game season. This was the first season to use the Divisonal Round and the Wild Card but neither seemed necessary as the top teams from both leagues cruised to the Fall Classic. The 100-win Cleveland Indians put up a good fight but ultimately fell to the Braves and the pitching trio of Smoltz, Maddux (Cy Young), and Glavine (WS MVP).
Super Bowl Champion: Dallas Cowboys (12-4, #1 NFC) – Completing the Philadelphia-rivals Championship-trifecta, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and the ‘Boys rolled through the NFL en route to their third Super Bowl in four years. Emmitt Smith set an at-the-time NFL record for single single rushing touchdowns with 25 while WR Michael Irvin’s 1,603 receiving yards are 11th all-time in NFL History. Jerry Rice and Issac Bruce also set the top-two marks for receiving yards in NFL History each with 1,848 and 1,781, respectively.
NCAA Football National Champion: Nebraska Cornhuskers – can you say back-to-back Champs?
NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champion: UCLA Bruins (#1 Seed)
Masters Champion: Ben Crenshaw
US Open Champion: Corey Pavin
British Open Champion: John Daly
PGA Champion: Steve Elkington
Ryder Cup: Europe defeats USA 14 1/2 to 13 1/2
If not for 1994 having no World Series and ending the year with two labor disputes, 1995 would have been #25. Props to the Braves and Cowboys, they were clearly great champions but cruised pretty much the entire way to their respective championships. I have a ton of respect for those Devils and Rockets teams, but they both grinded it out to the finals and then swept their opponents out of said-finals series. One of the biggest news stories for me was Tiger Woods winning the US Amatuer, his second of his record-two. Overall a good year, but we’ve only just begun…