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: Detroit Red Wings (38-26-18, #3 Western Conference) — The Wings swept the Flyers to win their first Cup in 38 years. Detroit was powered by Sergei Fedorov and recent acquisition Brendan Shanahan as they had to overcome the Avalanche in the Western Conference Finals. 1997 also saw the retirement of Dave MacTavish, the last helmet less player as well the final season of the Hartford Whalers.
NBA Champion: Chicago Bulls (69-13, #1 Eastern Conference) — One of the two greatest Bulls team, the 1997 version defeated the Utah Jazz in six games with Michael Jordan leading the league in points and Denis Rodman leading in rebounds. This season was notable for the debuts of its rookie class which included Allen Iverson and Ray Allen.
World Series Champion: Florida Marlins (92-70, NL Wild Card) — The Marlins defeated the Indians in a thrilling seven-game World Series. Florida was led by rookie pitcher Livan Hernandez, who won the MVPs of both the NLCS and World Series. Montreal Expos pitcher Pedro Martinez was dominant while the Blue Jays’ Roger Clemens won the AL Pitching Triple Crown as both were awarded their leagues’ respective Cy Young Awards. 1997 was the first season of interleague play as well as the final season with the Brewers in the American League.
Super Bowl Champion: Denver Broncos (12-4, #4 AFC) — John Elway vs. Brett Favre. At the moment, that may be the best QB matchup I’ve seen in a Super Bowl–Manning vs. Wilson may overtake that depending on how Russell Wilson’s career continues. Terrell Davis won the Super Bowl MVP award as he rushed for 157 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner. 1997 also featured two ties–crazy.
NCAA Football National Champion: Nebraska Cornhuskers and Michigan Wolverines
NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champion: Arizona Wildcats
Masters Champion: Tiger Woods (1st Major) — The beginning of the Tiger Era, Woods shattered Masters records that would not be matched until this past year by Jordan Spieth.
US Open Champion: Ernie Els (2nd Major)
British Open Champion: Justin Leonard (1st Major)
PGA Champion: Davis Love III (1st Major)
1997 Ryder Cup: Europe defeats USA 14 1/2 to 13 1/2
Hello World. Those were Tiger’s words after shattering the field at the 1997 Masters. Obviously we know how the rest of the story goes 14 majors later but that moment defined what we were in for. Seeing Jordan and Elway take home championships boosts up this year big time, especially when you consider the teams surrounding them. Between Pippin, Rodman, Kerr, and the rest of that Bulls team, it’s hard to imagine another team ever matching that level of excellence. The Red Wings team is one of the more dominant teams, especially considering the defensive era the team played in–just look at the Avalanche team they had to overcome.