Top NY sports villains of the decade
There was no shortage of villains New York fans loved to hate in the 2000s, from a xenophobic redneck to critters who turned Joba Chamberlain neck red. These are 10 of the most memorable.
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No. 10) DONALD BRASHEAR
The Capitals’ Donald Brashear would have faced the wrath of Rangers fans this fall for the blow that shattered Blair Betts’ orbital bone in last season’s playoffs, for which Brashear earned a five-game suspension.
If not, that is, for the fact the Rangers signed Brashear in the offseason. That’s hockey!
No. 9) JERRY JONES
There is no Cowboys player – not T.O. nor Flozell – Giants fans love to hate quite as much as owner Jerry Jones. That made victories such as the one in the 2007 playoffs and the one this season in the first game at Cowboys Stadium particularly sweet.
The late co-owner Wellington Mara, no fan of Jones’, set the tone after an upset victory in 1996: “It’s nice to see arrogance humbled.’’
No. 8) REGGIE MILLER
Sure, the venom aimed at him during the 2000s was a shadow of what it was in the ‘90s, but remember, oldie-but-badie villain Reggie Miller played halfway into this decade against the Knicks.
That included his 34 points at the Garden in an Eastern Conference-finals-clinching victory in June of 2000. The Knicks haven’t advanced past the first round since.
No. 7) THE MIDGES
The insects that attacked Joba Chamberlain in Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS might not have been smart enough to realize what they were doing. The Yankees led, 1-0, when Chamberlain’s visitors from Lake Erie arrived. By the time Chamberlain left, beaten and bitten, it was 1-1. The Indians went on to win, 2-1, in 11.
No. 6) DARCY TUCKER
The 2001-02 Islanders were the franchise’s best team of the decade, but their playoff run ended in the first round against the Maple Leafs, in part thanks to a hit by Darcy Tucker that blew out the left knee of Michael Peca, who never was quite the same after that.
Islanders fans still have not forgiven or forgotten.
No. 5) CHIPPER JONES
How can a guy who loved Shea Stadium so much he named his youngest son after the old place be a villain in New York?
Maybe it was because Chipper Jones wore out Mets pitching there for years.
It didn’t help that after beating the Mets in the ‘99 NLCS, he suggested the fans go home and put on their Yankees gear. Ouch.
No. 4) JIMMY ROLLINS
If Jimmy Rollins played for the Mets or Yankees, he would be embraced as a spunky leader who can both play and talk.
But he doesn’t, so his assertion in 2007 that the Phillies were the “team to beat’’ over the defending division champion Mets didn’t go over well around here.
Then the Phillies finished first, with Rollins as NL MVP. ‘Nuf said.
No. 3) BILL BELICHICK
The Dark Lord of the NFL was HC of the NYJ in the first week of 2000, but only for one day.
Bill Belichick instead won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, then in 2007 was caught videotaping the Jets’ sideline – an episode that cost him a $500,000 fine, a docked first-round draft pick and several postgame hugs with Eric Mangini.
That season ended with the Giants beating his Pats in Super Bowl XLII. Belichick left the field before the final second ran off the clock.
No. 2) PEDRO MARTINEZ
Aside from the occasional body slam of a 72-year-old bench coach, Pedro Martinez was an insightful, amiable foil for the Yankees, down to his return from the mists of time for the ‘09 World Series.
“I might be at times the most influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium,’’ he said during a vintage Pedro news conference in October.
Martinez even started Game 6, the end of a joy ride in the Wayback Machine that obscured another strange element of his New York sports villainy: He was a mostly-well-liked Met from 2005-08.
No. 1) JOHN ROCKER
It was in the Dec. 27, 1999, issue of Sports Illustrated that Braves pitcher John Rocker insulted blacks, gays, New Yorkers, people with purple hair, the No. 7 train, young mothers, ex-convicts and immigrants from assorted Asian and European countries.
But he qualifies for our 2000s list thanks to his infamous return to New York six months later, an event that attracted hundreds of members of the media and of the NYPD.
Amid tight security and naughty chants, Rocker retired the Mets in order in the eighth.
He never was the same as a pitcher after the controversy, though. He briefly was a Long Island Duck in 2005 but went 0-2 and failed to win over metropolitan area fans, even in the suburbs