Happy anniversary to one of the most iconic games in New York city sports history. Could any current NYC athlete do it like Messier?
On May 25, 1994, the New York Rangers were in a win-or-go-home scenario. Down three games to two against the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Final, Rangers captain famously made the boldest statement since Joe Willie Namath.
“We will win tonight.”
And then he backed it up. A third period hat trick got the win for the Rangers and cemented Messier’s legend in New York.
There are two important factors that played into Messier’s guarantee paying off.
- He had the intestinal fortitude to say it.
- He was good enough to back it up.
So on this 27th anniversary of Messier making the guarantee and then backing it up in iconic fashion, we ask the question: could any current New York athlete pull it off?
For our money, there are four individuals who could make it happen.
First, one who is not on our list: Jacob deGrom.
Since the start of the 2018 season, deGrom has been on a roll of dominance we haven’t seen in years. We’re talking Pedro Martinez in his prime-level stuff. Two Cy Young Awards later, he’s the best pitcher in baseball and the list of guys who could even be in the conversation with him is incredibly short.
But here’s the rub: let’s go back to our criteria for a Messier. deGrom might have the swagger to make the guarantee… but would he? This is a guy who won 10 of 32 starts with a 1.70 ERA in 2018. If anyone in New York today wouldn’t guarantee a victory even though he knows he can dominate the game, it might be deGrom. No team has let its pitcher down more over the past four years than the Mets have deGrom.
So for that reason, we aren’t putting deGrom in the mix.
Here are the four folks we believe have the intestinal fortitude to make the guarantee and back it up with their performance.
Sabrina Ionescu, New York Liberty
Swagger? For days! Ionescu, who had a close personal relationship with Kobe Bryant, shares his level of passion for the game and relentless want to beat her opponent. She showed up to opening night in a black Kobe jersey and then put the Mamba Mentality on display, dropping a game-winner to open what we hope is her first full WNBA season with a bang.
Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees
This is undoubtedly going to ruffle a few feathers with Mets fans. But, since leaving Pittsburgh before the 2018 season, Cole is has a 48-15 record. For as good as deGrom has been, half of the Messier equation is winning the game, and Cole has done that as well as any starting pitcher in baseball over the past four seasons. Now more comfortable as the ace of his childhood favorite team, Cole has the swagger and the ability to make a bold statement and back it up.
Kevin Durant & James Harden, Brooklyn Nets
Durant has a ring, and we’re not going to comment about the fact he won it with Steph Curry and Co. in Golden State. He’s an alpha who has had no issue speaking his mind at any point during his career. When he’s healthy, Durant is good enough to take over any game anywhere. This postseason, Harden enters the picture. He’s been to one NBA Finals (with Durant in OKC) but he, too, believes he is the best player on the planet today. And he’s shown the ability to completely dominate an opponent in the past.
The only question: which of these guys would make the guarantee first?
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Who did we miss? Is there someone else in the NYC landscape that could pull off a Messier today?