Where were you in the spring of 1994, assuming you were anywhere?
For those among us old enough to recall that ancient epoch, the answer for the New York area’s NBA and NHL teams was this: They all were in the playoffs.
It has not happened since, and even now, it took a near-miraculous break to allow the Islanders to secure one of the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference.
They appeared to have blown it when they lost to the Capitals on Monday night, losing control of their immediate future and throwing the near future of the entire organization into doubt.
Then lowly Chicago shocked the Penguins on Tuesday night in a gift from the hockey gods, and the Islanders were back in charge, needing only one point against the Canadiens to lock up a playoff spot after a one-year absence. They got two with a 4-2 victory.
Thus did they join the Knicks, Nets and Rangers in helping us take another step in returning New York to some semblance of sports competence.
It has been a rough decade-plus since the Giants secured the last metropolitan-area NFL/MLB/NBA/NHL championship, when they won Super Bowl XLVI.
(Kudos to NYCFC for their 2021 MLS Cup that stopped some of the bleeding.)
But things are looking up!
Not only do the hoops and hockey teams range from not bad to very good, but the Yankees, Mets, Giants and Jets all are legitimate postseason contenders (pending Aaron Rodgers’ arrival).
And the Liberty have assembled a superteam that figures to make a run at the franchise’s first WNBA title.
Back to the winter sports:
The Rangers and Devils could be headed for a New Jersey Transit first-round series, the winner of which might well be favored against the Hurricanes.
The Islanders were happy to take whatever matchup opponent they could get, even if it is the big, bad Bruins. Then who knows what Lou Lamoriello’s wily cast of veterans might do in the postseason?
In the NBA, the Knicks and Cavaliers appear to be an even match, and the Nets’ mix-and-match roster might be able to make the 76ers at least work up a sweat.
It is unlikely we will see anything like June of 1994, when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup and the Knicks fell to the Rockets in seven games in the NBA Finals.
But just having teams in the mix is enough for now, given how long it has been since everyone was involved.
At least the Islanders and Rangers have reached the last three NHL semifinal rounds – losing on each occasion to the Lightning.
The Knicks last made it past the second round in 2000 and the Nets in 2003, when they were playing in New Jersey and Jason Kidd still was playing point guard for them rather than herding cats in Dallas.
In 1994, the Rangers swept the Islanders in the first round – amazingly, the teams have not met in the playoffs since then – and beat the Devils in seven games in a conference final that remains on one of the most memorable series (and Games 7s) in NHL history.
The Knicks beat the Nets, 3-1, in a best-of-five first-round series. Patrick Ewing averaged 24.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.3 blocks. Charles Oakley added 16.3 points, 14.3 rebounds and 7.2 scowls.
Will New York fans still be talking about the events of the next couple of months 29 years hence, in 2052, when Kyrie Irving is coaching the Nets and Lamoriello is hoping to squeeze one last season out of his veteran core of Islanders?
Probably not, but you never know. That is the fun of it. At least we’re in the game.