The Top 10 New York Sports Stories of 2012: Nos. 5-1

01/01/2013 9:25 AM ET
By Staff

Avery Johnson didn't survive 2012 as Nets coach, but he did help them reach No. 1 on our list.(AP)
Now that 2012 is officially over, it’s time for the “Best of” lists to begin appearing everywhere in earnest, and is no exception.

Myriad huge sports stories – whether they be good, bad, astounding or expected – happened in the New York metropolitan area over the last 366 days, and it was very tough to narrow it down to less than a dozen.

In doing so, we decided to stick solely to the four major professional sports; while the rise and fall of the Big East, MSG being named as an NCAA Tournament host in 2014, and the movement to bring MLS to Queens have all affected the landscape, none of those have, at least yet, either fully come to fruition or come to any definite conclusion. Likewise, while the NHL lockout as a whole is a huge sports story nationwide, we decided to shy away from it simply because it’s one that may still be resolved.

So, after a lot of staff deliberation, it was these 10 that were, whether good, bad, astounding, or expected, deemed to be the biggest moments on the Gotham sports front in 2012. On New Year’s Eve, we revealed stories 10-6 on the countdown, and as the calendar now officially flips to 2013, we finish off the countdown today with the Top 5.

No. 5: “Tebowmania” overtakes Gang Green
Roughly six weeks after their MetLife Stadium co-tenants dominated the back pages by winning the Super Bowl, the New York Jets took over the headlines when they acquired quarterback Tim Tebow from Denver for a fourth-round and sixth-round pick. No one, perhaps not even Tebow, was exactly sure what his role would be, but Rex Ryan was quick to squash any notion of a quarterback controversy. The coach somewhat kept his word there, but it came at the expense of making the first year of the Tebow era – which may be over by the time the 2013 season opens – a complete bust; through Week 16, the man who led Denver to the 2011 AFC West crown had attempted just eight passes, rushed 32 times for 102 yards, and was twice passed over when Ryan made quarterback changes late in the season.

No. 4: Mets pitchers make history
When he was acquired in February 2008, Johan Santana was expected to be the man that anchored the Mets’ rotation for the next decade. After going 40-25 over three seasons, Santana missed all of 2011 after shoulder surgery – but despite a rough 6-9 return in 2012, he made his tenure in New York worth it, at least in fans’ eyes, by pitching the team’s first no-hitter on June 1, shutting down St. Louis to end a half-century of frustration and near-misses.

In the wake of that moment, however, it was another Mets hurler picked up off the virtual scrap heap a few years earlier who ended up making even more history. That was R.A. Dickey, who, after winning just 41 career games prior to 2012, went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA en route to becoming the first knuckle-baller to win the Cy Young Award. It may have been a tough 74-88 season in Queens, but Santana’s success and Dickey’s dominance more than gave Mets fans something to hang their hats on.

No. 3: The Giants win Super Bowl XLVI
Stop us if you’ve heard this before: The New York Giants come together late to make the playoffs, then win four games in a row as underdogs to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, capping off their season with a fourth-quarter comeback in the Super Bowl to defeat a seemingly-unstoppable Patriots team in a nail-biter. Circumstances may have been a little different in the 2011 NFL season than they were in 2007, but on February 5, 2012, the Giants made it “second verse, same as the first,” once again subduing Bill Belichick’s Pats with a late surge to win their second Super Bowl in five seasons. Déjà vu all over again, indeed.

No. 2: The Sandman put to sleep?
Throughout the first month of the MLB season, speculation ran rampant on whether or not 2012 would be Mariano Rivera’s swan song…but that all changed on May 3 in Kansas City, when Rivera tore his ACL while shagging fly balls during batting practice. “The Sandman’s” injury ended his season after nine appearances and five saves, but he promised it wouldn’t end his career – and Rivera kept that promise, signing a one-year deal on Nov. 30 to return for his nineteenth season in pinstripes.

No. 1: The Brooklyn Era Begins
Where Brooklyn at? It’s at No. 1 on our countdown! As you may remember, the Nets’ big July splash landed at No. 6, and that’s because we felt it would be unfair to lump that in with a three-month period that came much, much later. So, at No. 1, you have the entirety of what’s happened surrounding the Brooklyn Nets since late-September; from the opening of Barclays Center (by Nets minority owner Jay-Z, no less) to the first Brooklyn win and beyond, Nets basketball has been a lead story for the last 14 weeks and counting. The era has had its share of ups and downs already, and with Avery Johnson’s firing on Wednesday being the latest development in the chain, it’s sure to continue to be just as interesting as the calendar flips to 2013. comments