NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: (R) Mike Woodson the interim head coach of the New York Knicks coaches (L) Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks during the game against the Portland Trailblazers at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
For about 48 hours, Mark Sanchez sweated out his future with the New York Jets, but once Peyton Manning made it clear that he wasn't interested in encroaching on his brother's territory and coming to the Jets, Sanchez's tenure with Gang Green was secure. And in fact he immediately got an extension from the team, which also freed up some salary cap space (the Jets quickly re-signed Sione Pouha to a three-year deal and brought back Bryan Thomas and Nick Folk). So not only did the QB not leave the Jets, he's entrenched as their starter more than ever. So we didn't have to say goodbye to Sanchez, but we did wave so long to Brandon Jacobs, who was let go by the New York Giants after seven seasons and two Super Bowl victories. Jacobs leaves as the all-time franchise leader in rushing touchdowns. He had an up-and-down, often contentious relationship with both his team and its fans, but he went out with class, saying, "The Giants have given me an opportunity to make a life for my family, given me an opportunity to become something I never thought I'd become. I thank them for that. They have made so much possible for me that I always thought was impossible that I could never thank them enough." After letting Jacobs go, the Giants were able to re-sign Terrell Thomas and filled their tight end needs with former Cowboy Martellus Bennett.
As players come and go, we're welcoming back another, as Johan Santana has begun preparing for his return after missing all of last season. The worst-case scenario usually follows the New York Mets around like a black cloud hovering over them at all times, but the Mets' ace is progressing at an unexpected rate, with nary a setback in sight. Is it all too good to be true? At any rate, there's still a long way to go for Santana, but he may turn out to be the healthiest Met of them all. As Santana gears up for the season, (sort of) former New York Rangers left wing Sean Avery announced his retirement. The controversial lightning rod played parts of 11 seasons for four teams, scored 90 goals with 157 assists for 247 points and was a plus-16. He'll mainly be remembered, though, for his 1,533 penalty minutes (twice leading the league), infamous quotes and antics involving Martin Brodeur in the 2008 playoffs.
Which leaves us with the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets. Mike D'Antoni was the loser in the power struggle with Carmelo Anthony, as the coach resigned on Wednesday. In his years with the Knicks, D'Antoni could never get his team to overachieve or at least play up to its potential (unless you count the beginning of last year before the Anthony trade when they were a couple of games above .500). The two weeks of Linsanity were the high point of his reign. But it all came crashing down, and now Anthony will be seen as the bad guy with all the pressure on him, as a superstar wins the war against a coach once again. If new coach Mike Woodson's debut is an indication of things to come, he'll certainly fare better than D'Antoni did, though. And there will be no Dwight Howard for the Nets, as the center agreed to stay with the Orlando Magic (at least for another season). The Nets did acquire Gerald Wallace from Portland, for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a protected first-round draft pick. But that wasn't quite the coup they were hoping for.
That recaps the revolving door of who's in and who's out, and now on to the other top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
Resurrected? The Knicks' week began with J.R. Smith getting fined $25,000 for tweeting an inappropriate picture of a partially naked woman in his bed and sulking on the bench in Milwaukee while ignoring a team huddle -- and things only got worse for the team as the week went on. They lost to the Bucks on Friday, completing a four-game road losing streak. They were a defensive no-show in the disastrous loss to the 76ers on Sunday. They lost their sixth straight game on Monday, losing to the Bulls by getting bludgeoned on the boards with Anthony not joining a team huddle this time. Following that game, word leaked out that Anthony wanted to be traded -- that or he wanted D'Antoni to get the ax. Well, he got his wish, with D'Antoni sacrificing himself. The team has been a mess, with no leadership, no direction and no clue how to fit all the pieces together, and D'Antoni didn't have any answers, nor was he the answer -- apparently Jeremy Lin couldn't save his job after all. But on Wednesday, a new era began, and the Knicks trounced Portland, 121-79, in Woodson's first game, actually playing defense for a change and hitting 19 three-pointers. Woodson is scrapping D'Antoni's speedball, point-guard-oriented offense and will instead focus on Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. But the latest question is, will Woodson be the long-term answer or will Phil Jackson come full circle and return to the place where he started his NBA career?
Looking Ahead to Brooklyn: The Nets lost Deron Williams in Friday night's game against the Charlotte Bobcats/Carolina Cougars, but they temporarily overcame his absence with an 83-74 victory thanks to Kris Humphries' 20-point, 15-rebound game and Anthony Morrow's 17 fourth-quarter points. But reality set in on Saturday, with a loss to the Houston Rockets (despite Gerald Green's 26 points and spectacular windmill dunk), and Monday, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks (despite Humphries' Wilt Chamberlain-like game of 31 points and 18 rebounds). But on Wednesday, they won without Williams again, beating the Raptors, 98-84, keyed by Humphries' 21 rebounds and Green's 26 points. But the fans in New Jersey won't have Dwight Howard to root for, as the Nets' days in that state dwindle down.
Recovered? The Rangers are the anti-Knicks -- together, cohesive, on the same page, no panic, no tweeting, no sulking. After losing their third straight game on Friday, to the Chicago Blackhawks, which was their longest losing streak of the season, the Blueshirts bounced back with an overtime win over the New York Islanders on Sunday and a 4-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. The stars of both wins were Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Carl Hagelin, who have formed a new GAG line, just in time to spark the offense down the stretch. Those games set up the battle for first place with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the return of Sidney Crosby on Thursday, and if this was a test for the Rangers, they failed. The new No. 1 line was once again the only productive group, and there were defensive breakdowns all game long. Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan and Michael Del Zotto didn't play and Artem Anisimov left the game with an injury, but they likely wouldn't have made a difference as the Rangers let in five goals for the first time this season. The Rangers are still in first place, but the Penguins are gaining fast.
Is Sixth Place Really So Bad? Last week the New Jersey Devils were talking about catching the Rangers, and with two wins to start their week (and four in a row), why not? On Saturday, they defeated the Islanders, 2-1, by scoring both goals in the final 1:39, and on Sunday, they easily whipped the Flyers, 4-1, which was Brodeur's 650th career win. Philadelphia turned the tables on them on Tuesday, with a 3-0 victory, but even though they couldn't score a goal in 65 minutes of play, the Devils ended their week with a 1-0 shootout win over the Colorado Avalanche. All of which keeps them in sixth place where they've been for a while, which isn't so bad really. Who would they rather play in the first round, the Florida Panthers/Washington Capitals or the Penguins/Rangers?
Just About Done: It was a tough week for the Islanders, as they were hoping for one last gasp at a shot for the eighth playoff seed, but instead they fell to the Devils on Saturday, victim to two (really) late goals, lost in overtime to the Rangers with five seconds left, blew a two-goal third-period lead to the Capitals, losing 5-4 in a shootout, and lost to the Flyers on Thursday, 3-2, just coming up short in their comeback attempt.
What's Going on Around Here? Terry Collins is mad as hell but, unfortunately, he has to take it. What else is he going to do? David Wright still hasn't played a spring-training game and went back to New York to get a cortisone shot for his sore ribs (but has returned to Florida), Tim Byrdak had surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn meniscus and Ruben Tejada, D.J. Carrasco and Ronny Cedeno all have minor ailments of one sort or another, to go along with the other injuries from the previous weeks. The Mets are cursed, jinxed and have had a voodoo spell put on them -- how else to explain their rotten luck? Lucas Duda did return from his bad back and belted a grand slam, while Santana fared the best of all their starters this week. So at least there are a few positives down in Port St. Lucie. As for the New York Yankees, David Robertson, who must have momentarily thought he was a Met when he tumbled down some stairs, insists he'll be ready for opening day and is no longer walking around in a boot. Mariano Rivera threw a couple of (of course) scoreless innings this week, and CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova also neglected to let in a run in their outings. Freddy Garcia, though, was hit in the hand by a comebacker, which may influence Joe Girardi's rotation decisions.
And that's the New York week that was.