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: Colorado Avalanche (47-25-10, #3 Western Conference) — One year after moving from Quebec City, the Colorado Avalanche swept the Florida Panthers ti win their first Cup in franchise history. The Avs were led all season by Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg as Sakic would win the Conn Smythe Trophy scoring 34 points over 22 games. 1996 was also the final season of the original Winnipeg Jets as they would move to Phoenix the following season. Mario Lemieux was named MVP of the regular season as he scored 161 points, making it the last season a player surpassed the 150-point mark.
NBA Champion: Chicago Bulls (72-10, #1 Eastern Conference) — The greatest Bulls team, Michael Jordan was awarded MVP of both the regular season and the Finals as he led the league in scoring as well with over 30 points a game; for the 8th time. Jordan and Scottie Pippen were both named to both the 1st All-NBA and 1st All-Defensive teams with Dennis Rodman also on the 1st All-Defensive team. 1996 also features the debuts of the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors.
World Series Champion: New York Yankees (92-70, #2 American League) — The Yanks first title in their dynasty, they had fallen two games to none behind the Atlanta Braves to surge back and win the series in six games. Yankees closer John Wetteland closed out and recorded four saves in each of the wins for New York, a feat that has only been matched once since then. Andy Pettitre led the AL in wins with 21 as the Braves’ John Smoltz led the NL with 24 wins, winning the NL Cy Young Award.
Super Bowl Champion: Green Bay Packers (13-3, #1 NFC) — Brett Favre led the NFL in passing touchdowns en route to being named regular season MVP as he led the Pack to the Super Bowl over the New England Patriots. The game was ultimately decided by Desmond Howard returning a a missed Pats field goal 99 yards and was named Super Bowl MVP. 1996 was also the first season for the Baltimore Ravens as Art Modell had controversially decided to move the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in November of 1995. The agreement allowed for the city of Cleveland to retain the rights to the Browns’ name, colors, and logo, essentially making the Ravens an expansion franchise.
NCAA Football National Champion: Florida Gators
NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champion: Kentucky Wildcats
Masters Champion: Nick Faldo (6th Major)
US Open Champion: Steve Jones (1st Major)
British Open Champion: Tom Lehman (1st Major)
PGA Champion: Mark Brooks (1st Major)
Marquee names across the board in 1996: Sakic, Forsberg, Jeter, Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, Farve, and that’s just to name a few. The 1996 Chicago Bulls are a phenomenon we may never see again. 72 wins, are you kidding me? Seriously, it doesn’t get more dominant than that. Colorado quickly establishing itself after the move from Quebec is quite remarkable as well. Looking back on that team, it’s surprising they’d only win two Cups; they could have easily won more, if not for their legendary rivalry with the Wings.