New York sports fans love to see their professional teams win but also their college squads as well.
As New York sports fans, we all know how passionate New Yorkers are when it comes to their teams.
When their teams win, it’s not just the joy of seeing them victorious, it’s much more. It’s a huge part of their lives that makes or breaks the day, the week, the month or even the year.
There’s no doubt about it: all of the professional New York sports teams receive a lot of love from diehard fans.
What we need to realize at times is that premier college teams deserve the same love.
The premier college basketball team in New York City has always been the St. John’s Red Storm for the most part because of their tradition. No, they’re not nearly as publicized as the professional teams here especially with the recent struggles the Queens campus has had.
However, let’s look back at how great St. John’s was and how they once captured the hearts of New Yorkers everywhere, even fans who didn’t even attend St. John’s University.
No, they’ve never won a NCAA tournament but they are still one of the winningest programs ever and had a lot of success in their history. This was especially the case back in the 1980s which was the heyday of St. John’s basketball , led by legendary head coach Lou Carnesecca.
He had squads with multiple great players, led by current St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin, who still holds the record for most points scored in school history. There was also point guard Mark Jackson who still holds the record for most assists in St. John’s history. Both Mullin and Jackson became premier NBA players afterward. Then there’s also Bronx native Walter Berry who was one of the best college big men in the nation.
They made several great runs including the Final Four in 1985 — the last St. John’s team to make the Final Four. New York, back then, was crazy about college basketball and St. John’s, just like they were with the New York Mets in the 1980s. Madison Square Garden was packed during the Big East tournament when St. John’s played.
St. John’s made a couple of big runs in the late 90s, led by coach Mike Jarvis and Ron Artest (Metta World Peace), including an Elite Eight run in 1999.
So, St. John’s has made many splashes in New York when they’re winning and they definitely get the city’s attention. Lately, though, it hasn’t been so because of the team’s struggles.
However, there’s no doubt that when the Queens campus wins, New York will be rocking and March will be a madhouse here. A lot of people still care about college basketball and there are still many remaining and loyal St. John’s fans who followed the team back in the 80s. Not to mention the many New Yorkers who attended St. John’s University as students, including myself.
Similarly to New York City kids’ dreams of playing for the New York Knicks professionally, they also dreamed of playing for St. John’s. Lately, they’ve lost some of that luster, but when St. John’s gets back to their winning ways, it won’t be long before they gain that appeal once again.
When you think about New York City college basketball, you think about St. John’s and the history they’ve had. I know it’s all about the present but nothing captured the hearts of New York in college basketball when St. John’s wins.
No, there probably won’t be a ticker tape parade down Lower Battery in Manhattan, like they do for the professional teams. (Well, you never know.) But St. John’s will definitely get headlines when they win, and lots of people will talk about them, even probably non-sports New York fans too. Hey, it’s always like that when the professional teams win as well.
When the Mets made that World Series run last year, there was clearly a constant buzz. Same thing with the New York Yankees in the late 90s and the New York Giants in their Super Bowl runs in the 2007 and 2011 seasons.
Heck, when the Knicks went on those legendary playoff runs in the 90s, New York everywhere was crazy about basketball. I still remember a former coworker of mine who said that the Knicks forced her to get into basketball.
Back to St. John’s, it might take a little while for Mullin to get his ship back together but after a disappointing first season as the school’s coach, he will have a deeper team with some new recruits this season and he will have more good recruits coming up beyond.
When St. John’s gets back to their winning ways, I’ll assure you that college basketball will be back in New York City and they will get the same hype and love once again as all of the professional teams do.