New York fans are some of the craziest yet passionate fan bases across the country. They will dawn their team's logos during any occasion. They will insult a player in one second, and praise him like he's a god in the next. Their Twitter spaces are cult-like and they won't back down. I noticed some NY fandom activity popping up on Twitter over the weekend after I came across a list of "Top 15 New York Athletes". I was intrigued. The list was curated by former WFAN personality and current content creator for The Ringer, John Jastremski. It wasn't too crazy, but there were some omissions.
The Orginal List
First and foremost, the list is dubbed "Top New York Athletes". Unfortunately, John failed to mention the great city of Buffalo. It may be closer to Canada than the Big Apple, however, it is still New York. The Bills finished as AFC East Champions. The Sabres, well, they finished, but nonetheless.
I guess his avenue was the major four professional sports, which is fair, but I don't think that the list should omit futbol. Soccer is one of the most athletically demanding sports and the WNBA is the most popular women's sport in the US. So I included New York City FC, NY Red Bulls, and the NY Liberty. I, unfortunately, excluded the National Lacross League, not as a discredited, but they canceled the season due to COVID and I am pretty sure the PLL is going to cannibalize it. My apologies to the Buffalo Bandits, Rochester Knighthawks, Albany RedWolves, and New York RipTide.
Overall his list is, fine. Some questionable additions and athlete orders, but it wasn't an atrocity as Twitter made it to be.
Intorducing my rebbutal. The criteria include overall athleticism, ranking in their respective league, and winningness.
1. Kevin Durant (Nets)
I agree with John here. Although Brooklyn needed to give away free playoff tickets to pack the Barclays, Kevin Durant is the best athlete of New York. The 11x All-Star, 2x NBA Champ, and former MVP is easily a top-3 player in the league, so there really isn't any question for his spot on top. Not only is he at the top of NY, but he also is the top in the US, leading the hoops squad to another gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
2. Aaron Judge (Yankees)
I was torn between deGrom and Judge in the 2-3 spot, similar to John, but I had to give the slight upper hand to Judge. The size and strength of Judge are unseen in the baseball world. He could suit up as a power forward or tight end on most NBA and NFL rosters. If it wasn't going deGrom's health this season, he would take the number two spot. Judge is a pitcher's nightmare. He hammers the ball gets walked a ton, and this season limited his strikeouts. This season, he's got 26 home runs and 110 hits and is constantly providing sparks when the Yankees need it.
3. Jacob deGrom (Mets)
DeGrom is the best pitcher in baseball, that is a fact. Even in his injury derailed the season, he could still take home a CY Young. He was in talks for the MVP for quite some time too. His resume speaks for itself and he easily is on the NY's top athletes.
4× All-Star (2015, 2018, 2019, 2021)
2× All-MLB First Team (2019, 2020)
2× NL Cy Young Award (2018, 2019)
NL Rookie of the Year (2014)
NL ERA leader (2018)
2× NL strikeout leader (2019, 2020)
4. Josh Allen (Bills)
Josh Allen is an MVP in the making. Allen threw for over 4,500 yards on close to 70% passing, bringing in 37 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions. He also rushed for 8 TDs on over 400 yards. Omitting him from this list is impossible.
5. Saquon Barkley (Giants)
Saquon Barkley is elevated on this list because of his pure athleticism. When healthy, he is a freak of nature. A man that size cutting around the field with incredible speed is just unheard of. He is a catalyst of the Giants offense and when healthy, can be an unstoppable threat. He missed the majority of last season after an ACL tear, but mark my words he's going to have a Comeback Player of The Year type season.
6. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
I chose Kyrie over Harden, purely because of his handles and of course winning a ring before Harden could. He is a consistent offensive threat, with a high basketball IQ, and can run the floor like no other. Even with KD alongside him, he ranks in the top 10 in the league for scoring. He may be an odd character, but there is no denying his greatness.
7. Gerrit Cole (Yankees)
The Yankees ace is an absolute baller. If it wasn't for the streaky NY offense and COVID stint, I'd say he'd be a top CY Young candidate. This season showed his dominance, throwing 176 strikeouts and only 28 walks in 130 innings.
8. Julius Randle (Knicks)
It is time to put some respect on Julius Randle's name. It took some time, but Randle is one of the NBA’s most impactful and versatile defenders. Not to mention, a playmaking wizard and scoring machine. The Thibs system has helped Randle flourish, earning him his first all-star appearance, Most Improved Player, and leading the Knicks to a playoff berth for the first time in 8 years.
9. Pete Alonso (Mets)
The back-to-back home run derby champion is one of the National League's top hitters and first baseman. He has slightly similar production to Aaron Judge and provides consistency to the Met's lackluster offense.
10. Artemi Panarin (Rangers)
A Calder Trophy winner and All-Star, the former KHL star is the face of the Rangers and probably the best player in New York hockey. He had 58 points in 42 games with 17 goals. There isn't much question as to why he makes the cut, especially with the endurance needed to play pro-hockey.
11. Matthew Barzal (Islanders)
The pride and joy of the Islanders, Matt Barzal is a machine and a key reason to the Islander's recent success. He had 45 points in 55 games for New York and was stealthy in the 2021 playoffs, scoring 6 goals and 8 assists. It is just the beginning for the young center.
12. Anton Tinnerholm (NYCFC)
Tinnerholm is one of the top fullbacks in the entire MLS. He is considered one of the best defenders in the league, earning defender of the year in 2018. He is a key member of NYCFC. His efforts have been strong thus far and deserve his name on this list.
13. Quinnen Williams (Jets)
I think Quinnen Williams is a beast in the making and probably the Jet's best player at this current moment. He is the anchor of the defense and his speed for this big fella is eye-popping. No surprise as he's a former Alabama Crimson Tide.
14. Natasha Howard (Liberty)
Don't sleep on Natasha Howard. She is a 3x WNBA Champion and former Defensive Player of the Year. She was one of the key contributing factors in why the Seattle Storm had the number one rated defense. Having the ability to be an offensive weapon for Liberty, you'll see her name in conversations as one of the top forwards in the WNBA.
15. Jack Eichel (Sabres)
This one I am willing to take hate on this pick. Guys like Harden, Barrett, and Stanton should easily be on this list, but I am intrigued by Eichel and wanted to showcase the Sabres too. Even with his neck injury, he could be considered one of the brightest centers in the NHL. For as bad as Buffalo has been, he is an offensive specialist, never scoring less than 50 points in a real season.
Honorable Mentions (No Specific Order)
There is no disrespect to these players whatsoever. The list only allows fifteen and others just had some stronger cases.
- James Harden (Nets)
- RJ Barrett (Knicks)
- Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees)
- Francisco Lindor (Mets)
- Semyon Varlamov (Islanders)
- Aaron Long (Red Bull)
- Stephon Diggs (Bills)
Have at it, I'll take questions at this time.