This was a week filled with bombshells, denouements and breaking news. There's the Fred Wilpon/Bernie Madoff fiasco, which had been bogging down the New York Mets, every which way possible, financially, spiritually and comically, despite Wilpon's insistence from day one that it would have no impact on the team. On Monday, the Wilpons and Saul Katz settled the lawsuit with Irving Picard for $162 million. They don't have to pay the money for three years, and may get it back anyway from a lawsuit they've joined as victims of Madoff. So it's certainly a victory for the Met owners, and they, the team and its fans can finally move on from the drain it's caused on the franchise. Wilpon and Katz also sold $200 million in minority stakes in the team, which will help them pay down some of their huge debt. That's the good news. The bad news? Fred and Jeff Wilpon still own the team. And they're not going anywhere.
In basketball, the Dwight Howard to the New Jersey Nets rumors have come to an end, as the Orlando Magic center decided to stay in Florida after endlessly waffling back and forth (and back and forth again). That kind of set off a chain reaction, as Deron Williams stated he will use his opt-out clause and test free agency, though there's still a pretty good chance he'll end up in Brooklyn next year (well, we hope that's the case). At least Williams was mature enough not to turn his situation into a circus the way Howard did. But if he goes elsewhere next year, that leaves Gerald Wallace as the marquee name when the team moves to Brooklyn. When they originally moved to New Jersey, the Nets at least had Bernard King, Super John Williamson, Kevin Porter and Darnell Hillman's Afro to sell to the fans. Meanwhile, over at the Garden, the Mike D'Antoni era and all the controversy that came with it is finally over, as we received our answer to the question: Can D'Antoni and Carmelo Anthony coexist? Which is, of course, "no." Mike Woodson is making a great case for himself to be more than the interim coach of the New York Knicks, but will James Dolan want Phil Jackson or another big name to run his team?
And the New York Yankees have a mini soap opera brewing with the unexpected return of Andy Pettitte, who signed a $2.5 million minor league deal with the team. While most in the Yankee universe are glad to have one of the Core Four back, Freddy Garcia wasn't as ebullient, as Pettitte's arrival may impact Garcia's status in the starting rotation negatively. But Pettitte's preparation for the season is just beginning, so that's a discussion for another day.
But all of that is small potatoes compared to the New York Jets trading for Tim Tebow. As if things haven't been chaotic enough since Rex Ryan blew into town three years ago, the team will now be in full-blown circus mode. A little competition could only help Mark Sanchez's growth and development has been the prevailing wisdom -- but Tebow as the one to do it? "Competition" will easily be replaced by "controversy." There are question marks surrounding both Sanchez and Tebow, and their ability to thrive as successful quarterbacks, so the Jets now get two for the price of one when it comes to the "Is he good enough?" conundrum, though the team certainly could use more good citizens and unselfish players in its locker room, and Tebow would provide that. And the Wildcat possibilities could be very interesting, if both quarterbacks buy into their roles. But so much for the stability the Jets were hoping to install after last season's craziness. At any rate, New York now gets to witness, not only Linsanity, but Tebow-mania first-hand, as well. Lucky us.
And now on to the other top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
Woodsanity: Even though the Knicks haven't actually added anyone new to the team -- Mike Woodson was already supposedly in charge of the defense, and they haven't gotten any new players -- they are seemingly a brand-new team with Woodson at the helm. "Defense" and "accountability" are the new buzz words at the Garden, and every player is finally giving 100% and buying into the team concept (yes, we're looking at you, Carmelo Anthony). Jeremy Lin has continued to roll on despite D'Antoni's absence, and the ball is being spread around to all options on offense (with a resurgent Amar'e Stoudemire being a big bonus), as this week the Knicks defeated the Indiana Pacers in back-to-back games, destroyed the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday and won their fifth in a row on Wednesday, defeating the first-place Philadelphia 76ers, with Lin scoring 16 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and the team's defensive effort being strong once again. All is well right now for the Knicks, but what happens when the new-car smell of the Woodson era fades? Will there be more sulking and selfishness? Or is this new-found energy and enthusiasm for real?
No Howard for Brooklyn: On Friday, the Nets were just props for Howard's "return" or "homecoming" -- whatever you want to call it -- in Orlando's victory over New Jersey. With no Williams and no Jordan Farmar, the Nets never stood a chance. On Saturday, Williams returned to the lineup and Gerald Wallace made his Net debut, but they still lost, this time to New Orleans. On Monday, though the two stars had big games (Williams: 28 points, eight assists; Wallace: 27 points, 12 rebounds), the Nets lost yet again, to the Cavaliers, 105-100. And on Wednesday, the team's frustration boiled over when both Williams and Avery Johnson were ejected in their loss to the Washington Wizards.
There Will Be Blood: After losing for the second time in a row, on Saturday to the Colorado Avalanche 3-1, the New York Rangers faced the New Jersey Devils (who were coming off a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday) on Monday night in an attempt to regain their lost mojo. And at the drop of the puck to begin the game, Slap Shot broke out, with the Hanson Brothers (Stu Bickel, Mike Rupp, Brandon Prust) accepting the challenge the Devils put in front of them when they lined up Eric Boulton, Cam Janssen and Ryan Carter (or are they the Hanson Brothers?) to start the game. And after six players skated to the penalty box and one to the locker room, and 40 penalty minutes were doled out, the game had to be stopped in order to wipe a pool of Devil blood off the ice, which was a foreshadowing of the game to come. The Devils' attempt at intimidation backfired, the Rangers woke up and after leading the whole way (starting with a much-needed Brandon Dubinsky goal soon after the trio of fights), they went on to win, 4-2, in a game that had a playoff-type atmosphere. In fact, the Rangers clinched a playoff spot with the victory. In the aftermath of the bloodbath, the two teams' coaches engaged in a somewhat humorous war of words: "You shut up." "No, you shut up." There was no residual effect for the Devils, though, as they snapped their two-game skid on Tuesday by shutting out the Ottawa Senators, 1-0 (with Johan Hedberg in nets). Ilya Kovalchuk scored the only goal, which was the 400th of his career. And the Rangers rode the momentum of their win over the Devils on Wednesday with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings, with Ryan Callahan scoring his 27th goal on his 27th birthday for the winner.
On the Outside Looking In: Unfortunately, though the New York Islanders won both of their games this week, they are just playing out the string at this point. They missed out on all the fun between their two local rivals, but they defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 3-2, in a shootout on Saturday, and whipped the Toronto Maple Leafs, 5-2, on Tuesday, as their top line of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and P.A. Parenteau continues to pile up the points. They also signed Evgeni Nabokov to a one-year $2.75 million extension this week.
The Return of No. 46: Andy Pettitte's return overshadows everything else going on in the Yankee universe down in Florida. Hopefully his comeback will fare better than David Cone's or Jim Palmer's, though it's doubtful he'll put in seven more seasons the way Gordie Howe did. In other news, Derek Jeter injured his calf, David Robertson threw his first bullpen session, Robinson Cano was hit in the hand but didn't miss much time, Eduardo Nunez returned from a hand injury, Ivan Nova let in five runs in four innings on Sunday, Michael Pineda's velocity was up in his three-inning, two-run stint on Tuesday, Nick Swisher has an ongoing groin issue, Phil Hughes threw five strong innings on Wednesday, Raul Ibanez is only hitting .054 and the Yanks tied the Red Sox on Thursday with Boston knotting the score in the ninth on Bobby Valentine's favorite play: the suicide squeeze.
A Good Week (We Think): Let's forget for one minute (if we can) the fear and loathing we all have of Fred Wilpon, and view his settlement as good news. And add to that the continued health of Johan Santana and his six-inning, one-run performance on Wednesday, the five-and-a-third shutout innings on Saturday by Jon Niese, the five-and-two-third shutout innings by Dillon Gee, the home run off Stephen Strasburg by Lucas Duda, the 2-0 win over the Washington Nationals that ended a nine-game skid, David Wright taking batting practice and fielding grounders, R.A. Dickey tossing six-and-a-third innings and only letting in a run in the 8-2 win on Thursday, and it wasn't a bad week for the Mets (we'll conveniently forget about the eight runs given up by Mike Pelfrey in his shellacking on Sunday and his high ankle sprain, though, as well as Andres Torres straining his calf).
Gang Green & Big Blue: Looks like the Jets didn't forget that they signed a non-Tebow quarterback in Drew Stanton this week because they're already attempting to trade him, and they inked wide receiver Chaz Schilens and safety LaRon Landry as well. Things are much more calm when it comes to the New York Giants, who not surprisingly lost Mario Manningham and Aaron Ross to free agency, but signed punter Steve Weatherford to a five-year $12.5 million contract.
R.I.P. Ron Erhardt: The former Giants assistant coach died on Wednesday at the age of 80. He was part of Big Blue's staff from 1982 to '91 and was the offensive coordinator during the team's first two Super Bowls. Erhardt later became the offensive coordinator for the Jets in 1996, and before his long stint with the Giants, he was the head coach of the New England Patriots from 1979-'81.
And that's the New York week that was.