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: Pittsburgh Penguins (39-32-9, #4 Wales Conference) — The ’92 Pens were dominant. Their only issues in the playoffs were battling out of the Patrick Division–beating the Capitals in 7 and the Rangers in 6–but they swept both the Bruins and the Blackhawks en route to their second-straight Stanley Cup. Mario Lemieux won both the Conn Smythe and the Art Ross as he and teammate Kevin Stevens out-scored Wayne Gretzky. This was the only time Gretzky would not finish in the top two for points as Stevens became the third player to outscore the Great One.
NBA Champion: Chicago Bulls (67-15, #1 Eastern Conference) — Michael Jordan led the league in scoring with over 30 points per game, winning the MVPs of both the regular season and Finals–pretty much the usual for Jordan at this point. 1992 was also very notable for the retirements of both Magic Johnson, who had announced he was HIV Positive, and of Larry Bird–although both wouldn’t be quite done at the end of the NBA season.
World Series Champion: Toronto Blue Jays (96-66, #2 American League) — Toronto set the record becoming the fastest expansion team to win the World Series as well as the first non-USA-based team to do so. A’s Closer Dennis Eckersley won both the AL Cy Young and AL MVP Awards over Kevin Brown and Jack Morris’ 21 wins, Randy Johnson’s 241 strikeouts, and Juan Gonzalez’s 43 homers while Greg Maddux and Barry Bonds won the NL’s Cy Young and MVP.
Super Bowl Champion: Dallas Cowboys (13-3, #2 NFC) — Dallas’ win over the Bills in Super Bowl XXVII was Buffalo’s third-straight Super Bowl loss and this one may have hurt the most. Troy Aikman tossed four touchdowns, Emmitt Smith rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown, and the Dallas defense set a Super Bowl record forcing nine turnovers.
NCAA Football National Champion: Alabama Crimson Tide
NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champion: Duke Blue Devils — Christian Laettner hit one of the greatest shots in the history of basketball in the Elite 8 of the 1992 NCAA Tournament to propel the Blue Devils over Kentucky. Laettner and crew would have to defeat the Fab Five of Michigan in the final game as Laettner would win National Player of the Year and be named to the Dream Team.
Masters Champion: Fred Couples (1st Major)
US Open Champion: Tom Kite (1st Major)
British Open Champion: Nick Faldo (5th Major)
PGA Champion: Nick Price (1st Major)
1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France
1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain — Amongst the rest of the greatest that is the Summer Olympics, the 1992 edition allowed for professional basketball players to compete, allowing the USA to compile the Dream Team: 11 pros and 1 college player who absolutely ruled Barcelona and to no one’s surprise took home the Gold Medal.
Take a minute to check out those champions and moments again. Super Mario, MJ, Aikman, Laettner, Faldo, and THE DREAM TEAM–not too shabby of a list right there. 1992 featured the moments and champions that define the much of what we love about sports in this country, it was incredibly tough to have a year top it. But we’ll cover that year tomorrow.