1990s Sports: Facts, History, MVPs & Champions


America’s favorite pastime began to revert to its traditional roots in 1991 with the rebirth of the old fashioned ball park. After two decades of domed stadiums, baseball fans once again demanded natural grass, blue skies and intimacy with the action.


The owners responded with the new Comiskey Park and Camden Yards. Also new stadiums were right around the corner for the Rangers, Indians and Tigers.

Duke began and solidified its prestige in the 1990s, with Coach K becoming a legend. One of the most amazing college basketball moments of all time happened in 1992 when Christian Laettner drilled that last second jump shot to beat Kentucky in the Final Four.

I remember watching that game with my brother at my grandma’s house — we were just kids, but we both hated Duke for unknown reasons. My brother actually cried.

Shaquille O’Neal first terrorized college backboards, then he took his massive talents to Orlando. He also became a national celebrity acting, rapping and just being a huge, famous person.

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Magic Johnson shocked the sports world by retiring and announcing that he had HIV. His situation shone light on the disease in unparalleled proportions.

Evander Holyfield rightfully took his seat on the boxing throne, after Mike Tyson couldn’t keep it together. By the 90s Tyson was either in jail, or making a mockery of the sport.

The NFL saw the end of one great career in John Elway and the beginning of another in Brett Favre. The NFC completely “pwned” the AFC in the 1990s. The Giants, the Cowboys, the 49ers, the Redskins and the Packers won almost every Super Bowl that decade. A lot of times at the hands of the Bills. Barry Sanders was — and still remains — the best running back of all time.

Nebraska and Miami were the best college football programs in the 1990s.

Rickey Henderson broke the career stolen base record held by Lou Brock — a record that he holds to this day.

Michael Jordan was the best player in the NBA, carrying the Bulls to 6 NBA Championships. His domination is one like we’ve never seen in the modern era.

Sports in 1990

1990 World Champion Cincinnati Reds

1990 World Champion Cincinnati Reds


There were many significant events in the baseball world in 1990. The beginning of the decade saw a World Series sweep, a record breaking contract, and more.

Nolan Ryan threw his sixth career no-hitter for the Texas Rangers on June 11, at age 43. Even at that age, Ryan was zipping the ball by batters at 95 miles per hour, and led the league in strikeouts with 232. Ryan’s was one of a record nine no-hitters thrown in 1990.

Cecil Fielder of the Detroit Tigers became the first American League player since Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle to hit 50 home runs in a season. Off the field, Jose Canseco signed a five-year contract with the Oakland Athletics worth up to $23.5 million. History was also made in Seattle, where Ken Griffey, Sr. and Jr. became the first father-son combination to play in the majors on the same team in the same game.

Cincinnati dominated the National League with a lineup reminiscient of the Big Red Machine from the 1970s. Finishing the season 5 games ahead of second place, the Reds were ready to take on whatever came. With a bullpen known as the “Nasty Boys”, Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton, and Randy Myers won 41 games combined, the Reds swept the National League Championship Series away from the Pirates, with Myers and Dibble sharing the MVP.

In the AL, Oakland held the best record in the major leagues, 103-59, finishing nine games ahead of second. In the ALCS, Oakland faced the Boston Red Sox, easily defeating the Sox in four straight games.

By the time the World Series came, most expected the A’s to win easily. For the first game of the Series, Cincinnati demolished the Oakland pitching staff while shutting down the Bash Brothers, 7-0.

The second game was closer, 5-4, and took 10 innings to decide, but the Reds prevailed again. Game three was another blowout, with Cincinnati coming out victorious, 8-3. In the final game, Oakland had little chance of victory, and, giving up 2 runs in the 8th inning, seceded the title to Cinncinati, 2-1.


The UNLV basketball team had the best season in school history in 1990. Never having won a championship, UNLV continued to win game after game. Making it to the Final Four, UNLV beat Georgia Tech, 90-81.

Meanwhile, Duke faced Arkansas, with Duke coming out ahead, 97-83. The NCAA championship final game pitted powerhouses Duke against UNLV.

Duke, favored to win, fell flat on their faces. By the end of the game, UNLV had scored 103 points, destrying Duke by more than 30 points.

A horrible tragedy occured in the West Coast. Hank Gathers, the sixth best scorer in the nation, suddenly died during a tournament game. Gathers had a heart disease. His college, Loyola Marymount, qualified for the NCAA tournament and made an inspired run to the final eight before losing to UNLV.


Pro basketball began its expansion with the addition of two new teams, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Orlando Magic. Along with the new teams came even more popularity. Attendance records were broken for the seventh consecutive season, with over 17 million fans attending NBA games in 1990.

The LA Lakers, Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, and Philadelphia 76ers all won their divisions.

NBA noobs Minnesota and Orlando were terrible — both finished under .300.

The Phoenix Suns knocked out the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals, Los Angeles’ fastest elimination since 1981.
Detroit advanced to the Finals by defeating the Indiana Pacers (3-0), New York Knicks (4-1), and Chicago Bulls (4-3). The Portland Trail Blazers advanced to the Finals by defeating the Dallas Mavericks (3-0), San Antonio Spurs (4-3), and Phoenix Suns (4-2).

The NBA Finals featured the Detroit Pistons and the Portland Trail Blazers. Both teams held identical regular-season win-loss records.

But the Trail Blazers were no match for Detroit. The Pistons beat Portland 4 games to 1. In the final game, with the score tied at 90, Vinnie Johnson of the Pistons nailed a jump-shot with .7 seconds left, sealing a 92-90 victory.

Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls won the NBA scoring title, leading second place Karl Malone by over 200 points. Hakeem Olajuwon led the NBA in rebounds, averaging 14 rebounds a game.


Buster Douglas shocks Mike Tyson

Buster Douglas shocks Mike Tyson

In the biggest upset of the year, Mike Tyson lost the heavyweight title to James “Buster” Douglas. Tyson, previously undefeated and an overwhelming favorite, lost his title in a 10th round knockout.

A slightly overweight Douglas later lost the title, in his first defense, to a much superior Evander Holyfield. Holyfield, in defending his title, decided he would rather not fight Tyson, and wanted to fight 42-year-old George Foreman instead.

The World Boxing Council wanted Holyfield to fight Tyson first, so the case went to arbitration.


The top spot in the polls was constantly changing in 1990. Miami (Fl.) was upset by BYU in the first week, then Notre Dame was ranked #1. Then Stanford upset Notre Dame, and Michigan took the top spot. After Michigan State upset Michigan, Virginia moved into first. Shortly after, Georgia Tech beat Virginia, and Notre Dame was ranked first again.

Lastly, Penn State defeated Notre Dame, and Colorado ended the regular season at the top of the very crowded mountain.

At the end of the regular season, 5 teams were all but tied for first: Georgia Tech (10-0-1), Texas (10-1), Houston (10-1), Colorado (10-1-1), and Louisville (9-1-1).

Colorado, however, had inexplicably won their final game on a fifth down, due to a miscounting by game officials.

The pre-bowl top four:

1. Colorado
2. Georgia Tech
3. Texas
4. Miami (Fl.)

In the bowl games, Georgia Tech demolished Nebraska, 45-21, while Colorado squeaked by Notre Dame 10-9. The polls differed on who should be champion, however. The UPI ranked Georgia Tech #1, whereas the AP ranked Colorado #1, so it was ruled a tie.

Ty Detmer captured the Heisman Trophy, leading his team to the Holiday Bowl, where they lost to Texas A&M, 65-14. Detmer set the college season record for most passing yards in a season.


Barry Sanders on Sports Illustrated (1990)

Barry Sanders on Sports Illustrated (1990)

Television ratings held up in 1990, helped along by the very popular San Francisco 49ers. After winning the previous Super Bowl, the 49ers won 10 games in a row, and finished with a season record of 14-2, best in the NFL.

In the NFC, the division champions were the 49ers, New York Giants, and Chicago Bears. Three teams also qualified for the wild card spots: Philadelphia, Washington, and New Orleans. In the AFC, the division champions were the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Raiders, and Cincinnati Bengals. The wild card teams were Miami, Kansas City and Houston.

The AFC conference finals saw an amazing blowout by the Bills, overwhelming the Raiders, 51-3. In the NFC, the Giants advanced past the 49ers, defeating them 15-13 with place-kicker Matt Bahr scoring all of the Giants points with five field goals.

In the Super Bowl, the Giants proved to be no joke, defeating the Bills, 20-19. New York set a new Super Bowl record by keeping possession of the ball for 40 minutes and 33 seconds.

Barry Sanders of Detroit had an amazing year, leading in rushing and touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, and scoring 13 touchdowns.


Nick Faldo, Britain, had an amazing year, winning both the Masters and the British Open, and capturing the PGA Player of the Year award, the first non-American to do so. Hale Irwin, 45, became the oldest man to ever win the U.S. Open, defeating Mike Donald in a playoff. Wayne Grady of Australia won the PGA tournament by 3 strokes.

Lee Trevino and Jack Nicklaus both turned 50, qualifying for the Senior golf tournaments of the world. Nicklaus won his first tournament, the Tradition, and also the Tounament Players Championship. Trevino was the first senior to ever win over $1 million in a year, winning 7 tournaments, including the senior U.S. Open, and came in second 6 times.


Walter Zenga

Walter Zenga set up a World Cup record in 1990

Cameroon became the first African team to ever win a World Cup quarterfinal, after defeating Colombia in the second round.

United States, playing in its first World Cup since 1950, was knocked out in the first round.

Argentina defeated long-time rivals Brazil in the second round, and West Germany eliminated Netherlands.

In the quarterfinals, Argentina eliminated Italy and keeper Walter Zenga, who had not given up a goal in 517 minutes, a World Cup record.

West Germany defeated England, and advanced to face Argentina in the World Cup final.

West Germany scored only one goal, on a penalty kick no less, but that was enough to hold off Argentina.

The final score of the 1990 World Cup final: West Germany 1, Argentina 0.

Sports in 1991


For the first time in the modern era, a team rose from last place to first, and won the World Series. In fact, in 1991, two teams pulled a worst-to-first, the Minnesota Twins and the Atlanta Braves.

Atlanta beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Championship Series, four games to three. The Twins defeated the Toronto Blue Jays four games to one, proving their dominance in the AL.

The World Series was an exciting one, with five games decided in the final at-bat, and four games decided by the final pitch. The Series itself was decided by the final pitch of the final at-bat of the final game. In the tenth inning, with the bases loaded, Gene Larkin hit a fly-ball over the drawn-in outfielders, winning the Series for the Minnesota Twins, four games to three.

Rickey Henderson broke Lou Brock’s career stolen base record on May 1, swiping number 938. Nolan Ryan threw his seventh (and final) no-hitter.

Rod Carew, Gaylord Perry, Ferguson Jenkins, and Tony Lazzeri were added to the Hall of Fame, along with former owner Bill Veeck.


Going into the NCAA tournament, the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels were the undefeated favorites to win the Finals. But in the Final Four they were upset by Duke, while North Carolina was upset by Kansas.

In the NCAA Finals, Duke faced Kansas. In the end, the Blue Devils won, giving Duke its first ever NCAA championship title.

Shaquille O’Neal (LSU) and Larry Johnson (UNLV) shared the Player of the Year award, as polls were unable to decide who did better.


The Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan (30 ppg), captured the Central Division, and then the Eastern Conference. The Los Angeles Lakers came in second in the Pacific Division, but won the Western Conference in the playoffs. The NBA Finals were a blowout, with Chicago winning the title, four games to one.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson announced his retirement, due to contracting HIV. Magic had won 3 MVP awards and five championships in his 12 year career with the LA Lakers.


Evander Holyfield held the heavyweight title the entire year, defending against George Foreman and Bert Cooper. Mike Tyson stayed out of the picture with a rib injury.

Sugar Ray Leonard retired at age 34 after taking a beating in a super-welterweight title bout.


1991 was an exciting year for college football. Miami (Fla.) and Washington both held undefeated seasons, and six other teams only had a single loss. But after the bowls, the scene had changed. Though both Miami and Washington easily subdued their opponents, three of the one-loss teams gained another. Miami flattened Nebraska 22-0, and Washington soundly beat Michigan 34-14. The next day, the Associated Press named Miami #1, but United Press International named Washington #1. So it was considered a split, or shared, championship.

Michigan’s junior wide receiver and punt returner, Desmond Howard, won the Heisman Trophy, and Steve Emtman of Washington won the Outland and Lombardi awards for outstanding linebackers.


The Washington Redskins were the best team in football in 1991. With a regular season record of 14-2, they were already favorites to win the Super Bowl. Then they advanced somewhat easily through the playoffs.

The Buffalo Bills were the second best team in football, with a 13-3 record. Advancing through the playoffs, they faced a formidable opponent in the Super Bowl: the Redskins.

On January 26 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Bills and Redskins each scored enough points for several Super Bowls, but Washington prevailed. Washington quarterback Mark Rypien was named Super Bowl MVP, throwing two touchdowns in the 37-24 win.

Sports in 1992


At the beginning of the 1992 season, Fay Vincent had resigned from his position as baseball’s commissioner after a no-confidence vote from the owners. He was replaced by Allan “Bud” Selig, owner of the Milwaukee Brewers. Owners were unhappy with Vincent for many things, most notably how he acted during the lockout.

The San Francisco Giants owner, Bob Lurie, had some radical ideas. First, he tried to sell the team to a group in Florida, who would move the team to St. Petersburg. Lurie nearly finalized the deal before NL owners rejected the sale. Lurie also tried to replace Candlestick Park, which was wet, windy and apparently quite popular. Lurie instead settled on selling to a local group for $100 million.

Attendance dropped 1.6% in 1992. Teams like Los Angeles and Boston finished in last for the first time in over 50 years. But salaries rose anyway, with 265 players making over $1 million.

In the American League (AL), Toronto captured the Eastern Division title, and Oakland took the West. In the playoffs, Toronto won the pennant, 4 games to 2.

In the National League, Pittsburgh led the East by 9 games, and Atlanta led the MLB with 98 wins, winning the Western Division. The NLCS went seven games, with Atlanta capturing the NL pennant.

In the World Series, Atlanta and Toronto played their hardest, but Toronto won the sixth and final game on a Dave Winfield double, becoming the first Canadian World Series winners.

Pitchers Tom Seaver, Rollie Fingers, and Hal Newhouser were inducted into the Hall of Fame, along with Umpire Bill McGowan. Robin Yount and George Brett both collected their 3,000th hits, becoming the 17th and 18th players to do so. Also, Jeff Reardon broke Rollie Fingers’ career saves record on June 15, saving game number 342.


Duke, 1991 champions, ranked first overall at the end of the NCAA regular season. Kansas ranked second, Ohio State third, UCLA fourth, and Indiana fifth. All these teams qualified for the NCAA tournament.

Duke faced Michigan and the Fab Five in the NCAA Finals. With the score still close at 48-45 with eleven minutes left, Duke went on a 23-6 scoring run, and easily captured the championship, 71-51.

Duke’s coach, Mike Krzyzewski, led the team to the first repeat championship in the NCAA since UCLA in 1973. Duke’s forward, Christian Laettner, won 4 awards en route to a Player of the Year selection. Laettner was also chosen for the Olympic basketball team.


Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls proved himself to be one of the most valuable players in NBA history, leading in scoring (30 ppg) and winning a third consecutive NBA title.

In the Finals, the Chicago Bulls faced the Portland Trail Blazers. Winning 3-2 entering the sixth game, the Bulls were losing by 15 points going into the fourth quarter. But they came back and won by four points, 97-93.

Larry Johnson, first overall pick of the 1991 draft, proved his worth by winning the Rookie of the Year award. Head coach Don Nelson of the Golden State Warriors led his team to its best season since 1976, and won Coach of the Year.

Larry Bird, after an illustrious 13-year career with the Celtics, retired due to long-term back problems. Earvin “Magic” Johnson returned to the NBA, after retiring due to HIV. Johnson planned on playing 50-60 games with the Lakers, but changed his mind and re-retired, this time permanently.


Riddick Bowe beat Evander Holyfield in a bout for the heavyweight title. Bowe’s victory was short-lived; he held his title until he refused to fight Lennox Lewis, and the WBC declared a split championship between Lewis & Bowe. Champions were recognized in 17 other weight divisions, including light heavyweight and middleweight.


Only three teams managed to stay undefeated and untied: Alabama, Miami, and Texas A&M. Michigan was undefeated, but tied three games. Florida State and Notre Dame lost one game apiece.

Before the bowls, the polls named:

1. Miami (Fla.)
2. Alabama
3. Florida State
4. Texas A&M
5. Notre Dame

However the standings changed considerably after the bowls. Alabama upset Miami 34-14, and Texas A&M was beaten soundly by Notre Dame, 28-3. Gino Torretta, Miami’s senior quarterback, completed 228 passes for 3,060 yards, 19 touchdowns, on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy.


The San Francisco 49ers excelled, winning 14 games with quarterback Steve Young. Dallas won 13 games, and after the playoffs, these two teams faced off for the National Conference title. It was possibly the most anticipated NFC Championship game of all time featuring what was probably the two best teams in the NFL.

The Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills tied for the Eastern Division title, but Miami was awarded the tiebreaker. During the playoffs, Buffalo made the most amazing comeback in NFL history. After falling behind 35-3 in the third quarter to the Houston Oilers, the Bills came back to win the game 41-38 in overtime. The Bills and the Dolphins had to face off for the American Conference title.

Buffalo beat the Dolphins, and Dallas upset San Francisco setting up a Dallas vs. Buffalo Super Bowl.

Dallas defeated Buffalo in the Super Bowl, winning the third Super Bowl ring in the franchise’s illustrious history.


Toni Nieminen, a sixteen-year-old girl from Finland became the youngest Winter Olympics gold medalist ever, winning 2 gold medals and a silver medal in ski jumping. South Koreans captured world records for men’s speed skating in 1,000 meters and 5,000 meter relay.

USA basketball dominated, winning the gold easily against Croatia, 117-85. Fiu Mingxia, China, became the second-youngest person to ever win a gold medal, at age 13 she won platform diving.

Sports in 1993

In March, Dallas became the sixth city in the US to have franchises in all four major pro sports: baseball, basketball, hockey and football when the Minnesota North Stars relocated and changed their name to the Stars.

Pro Football

The Dallas Cowboys won Super Bowl XXVII in Pasadena, California, defeating the Buffalo Bills, 52-17. Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman threw four touchdown passes on his way to winning the Super Bowl MVP award.

The NFL enjoyed seemingly greater parity due to free agency. In the NFC, division winners were Dallas, San Francisco and Detroit. The division champs in the AFC were Houston, Buffalo and Kansas City.

1993 wasn’t a kind year to quarterbacks who had been with their teams for years. Joe Montana was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs and Bernie Kosar was released. Randall Cunningham missed most of the season with a broken leg and Dan Marino was also lost to injury.

In 1993 the NFLPA and the NFL agreed to unrestricted free agency in return for a salary cap. This agreement would go on to have a huge impact on the future of pro football.

Steve Young secured the highest average contract in NFL history with a 5-yr/$26.75 million deal.

College Football

Quarterback Charlie Ward (who also played basketball at Florida State), won the Heisman Trophy award.

As usual there were strong disagreements over who was the best team in the nation. Notre Dame seemed headed for the title after it beat Florida State on November 20. But then Boston College upset Notre Dame. When the regular season ended the best records belonged to Nebraska (11-0), West Virginia (11-0), Auburn (11-0).

At that point the AP poll ranked Florida State number one, and the USA/TOday poll ranked Nebraska number one. The poll of the bowl coalition, which combined the results of the other two polls, ranked Nebraska first.

Auburn was ineligible due to recruiting violations.

The Orange Bowl pitted Florida State against Nebraska. It was a great that came down to a last second kick, but Florida State held on to win 18-16. West Virginia also lost their bowl game, leaving no undefeated teams at the end of the year.

Florida State was declared the 1993 national champion.

Pro Baseball

The Toronto Blue Jays won their second consecutive World Series on a dramatic ninth inning home run by outfielder Joe Carter to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-6, to take the series four games to two.

Baseball thrived in 1993, in part because of a last-to-first place improvement by the Phillies and a tense battle in the NL West Division between the Atlanta Braves and the San Francisco Giants.

In the NL Eastern Division, the Phillies finished three games ahead of Montreal. The Phillies became only the third team in 1900s to climb from the bottom to the top in one year.

Philadelphia beat Atlanta, 4 games to 2, with Phillies reliever Mitch Williams winning two of those games.

In the American League East, Toronto finished seven games ahead of the Yankees and won the title for the third consecutive year. The Chicago White Sox won by eight games over the Texas Rangers in the West for their first division title since 1983.

After recuperating for a year following a hip replacement, Bo Jackson returned to baseball.

Philadelphia was a surprise team with many cast offs. It was led by Lenny Dykstra, Darren Daulton, John Kruk and Dave Hollins.

1993 was Nolan Ryan’s final year. It was also the last year of Carlton Fisk and George Brett’s amazing careers.

A boating accident on March 22 near Clermont, Florida, killed Cleveland Indians pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews and badly injured Bob Ojeda.

Outfielder Vince Coleman pleaded guilty in court to throwing a firecracker into a crowd of fans. The Mets stated that Coleman would never play for them again.

Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was suspended on February 3, 1993 for most of the year for racial and ethnic slurs.

Barry Bonds made the most money in 1993 with a $7.3 million salary.

Pro Basketball

An exciting 1993 NBA Finals that matched Michael Jordan vs. Charles Barkley. The Chicago Bulls won the championship for the third consecutive year.

Three months later Michael Jordan, considered to be the best player in basketball, unexpectedly announced his retirement on October 6 from the NBA at age 30.

College Basketball

Indiana, Duke, Kentucky and Kansas were the rated top teams in 1993. However, California beat Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and Kansas upset Indiana in the regional final.

The Final Four featured Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan and Kentucky. Michigan’s Fab Five was in the middle of their run.

You’ve seen the replay. Yep, 1993 was the year Chris Webber called that infamous time out practically handing North Carolina yet another championship.

Some of the top college basketball players in 1993 were: Bobby Hurley of Duke, Calbert Cheaney of Indiana, Jamal Mashburn of Kentucky, Chris Webber of Michigan and Anfernee Hardway of Memphis State.

Even though he made on the biggest mistakes in the history of college basketball, the Orlando Magic still picked Chris Webber with the first pick of the 1993 NBA Draft.

Shaquille O’Neal won the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 1993, becoming the youngest player ever to win the award. He also was voted to start to NBA All-Star game, a rarity for a rookie. Basketball fans were very excited about this promising young player.

Celtics captain Reggie Lewis collapsed and died after shooting baskets on July 27, 1993. On June 7, New Jersey Nets guard Drazen Petrovic died in an autombile accident in Germany. He was the Nets’ leading scorer during the 1992-93 season.


Evander Holyfield recaptured the WBA heavyweight title on November 6, 1993. He defeated Riddick Bowe in a 12-round decision. A bizarre scene occurred in the seventh round when a parachutist dropped in on the match.

Lennox Lewis maintained his WBC heavyweight title in 1993, beating the likes of Tony Tucker and Frank Bruno. George Foreman retired again at the young age of 44.


Sports in 1994


The longest strike in history hit baseball in 1994. The season was ended 52 games early, and no team won more than 74 games. The playoffs and the World Series were not played.

The cause: money. Owners wanted a salary cap and to end salary arbitration. They wanted to slow the meteoric rise of player salaries, and to help less affluent teams. The players proposed their own solution, a tax system, and the owners refused. With neither side budging, the season was ended early.

In our opinion, 1994 is the worst year in the history of baseball.

Steve Carlton, Phil Rizzuto and Leo Durocher were elected into the Hall of Fame. Jeff Bagwell was named NL MVP, and Frank Thomas was named AL MVP.


North Carolina was held in high opinion by the public. The returning champions were in 1st place for the regular season, and favorites to win it all. Then came Boston College in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and North Carolina was knocked out.

Meanwhile, Arkansas and Duke kept winning. Making it to and past the Final Four, these two teams faced off for the NCAA championship. After many a squeak and swoosh, the game was over, with Arkansas crowned as NCAA champions.


With Michael Jordan gone, the Chicago Bulls had little chance of making it to the NBA Finals. And make it they did not. After an on-court fight in the second round, they were eliminated by the New York Knicks.

The Knicks went on to the NBA Finals to face the Olajuwon-led Houston Rockets. In a back and forth series, the title could have gone to either team. But the Rockets won the final game 90-84, earning the trophy.


Evander Holyfield had gained the heavyweight title in 1993 from Riddick Bowe. In his first defense, Holyfield lost the decision to Michael Moorer.

Moorer then made a defense against 45-year-old George Foreman, and was knocked out in the 10th round. Thus the year ended with the oldest heavyweight champion ever.

In the WBC, Lennox Lewis also lost, his title went to Oliver McCall.


Nebraska and Penn State were the only undefeated and untied teams in NCAA football. Nebraska (12-0) was named first and Penn State (11-0) second, with Miami of Florida (10-1) third.

Because the Big Ten sent their champion to the Rose Bowl against the Pacific 10 champion, Penn State was unable to compete against Nebraska for the title. Instead, Nebraska defeated Miami 24-17, and Penn State won 38-20 against Oregon.

Nebraska finished the season first, Penn State second, and Colorado third. Rashaan Salaam of Colorado earned the Heisman, with 24 touchdowns and 2,055 rushing yards.


The two-point conversion was brought to the NFL, and resulted in more offensive football. The extra point kick was used less, and as a result, teams scored more points than ever. This was also the last season that Los Angeles had a team, as both the Rams and the Raiders relocated after the 1994 season.

The San Francisco 49ers were the best team in football, with a 13-3 regular season record and a Super Bowl victory over the San Diego Chargers. Their QB, Steve Young, was the best in football, throwing 3,969 yards for 35 Touchdowns and only 10 interceptions.


The World Cup was held in the United States, and was extremely successful. FIFA discouraged roughness by outlawing tackling from behind. They also made new rules to encourage more offense and higher scoring games. England, surprisingly, did not qualify for the World Cup.

In the World Cup final, Brazil faced Italy. After tying in the first 90 minutes, they advanced to two 15-minute halves. Still tied, Brazil won on penalty shootouts, 3-2.


In a new format, the Olympics would be held every 2 years, alternating between the summer and winter games.

Norway’s Johann Olav Koss won 3 gold medals and set 3 world records in men’s long-distance speed-skating. Sweden won the hockey gold medal, with a record of 6-1-1.

Norway won the Olympics (10-11-5) with a total of 26 medals.

Sports in 1995


The season was blackened by a strike, which was caused by owners’ attempts at creating a salary cap. Eighteen games were missed due to the strike, and only two teams won 90 or more games. Fan interest had fallen to an all-time low, with many fans promising never to return to baseball after the strike.

The Atlanta Braves won exactly 90 games, and captured the NL title. Cleveland won 100 games despite the strike, posting one of the best winning percentages of all time, earning the AL title.

Atlanta broke Cleveland’s heart, winning the World Series, 4 games to 2. The final game was won on David Justice’s sixth inning solo home run, the only run of the final game of the series.


The AP rankings before the NCAA tournament began:

2. Kentucky
3. Wake Forest
4. North Carolina
5. Kansas
6. Arkansas

By the time the Final Four came, only UCLA, North Carolina, Arkansas, and underdogs Oklahoma State were left standing. UCLA demolished Oklahoma State, and Arkansas defeated North Carolina. Arkansas had the opportunity to win its second consecutive title, but lost by 11 points, 89-78, and UCLA had once again risen to the pinnacle of college basketball.


Michael Jordan returned to basketball and the Chicago Bulls in March, but it was too late for them.

The #6 Houston Rockets weren’t expected to make it far in the playoffs, barely making it to the post-season at all. But, Houston proved to be stronger than expected, and beat Utah, then Phoenix, and San Antonio, too. Surprisingly, Houston was in the Finals.

The Orlando Magic came from the Eastern Conference to challenge the Rockets for the title, but Houston, apparently a team of destiny, swept the Magic, 4 games to none.

David Robinson (San Antonio) was named the regular season MVP, and Del Harris (Los Angeles) was named Coach of the Year.


George Foreman was stripped of his heavyweight title when he chose to fight Axel Schulz (Germany) instead of Tony Tucker. Bruce Seldon stepped in to fight Tucker, and claimed the title when he beat Tucker in April.

In the WBC, Frank Bruno claimed the heavyweight title for his own when he beat Oliver McCall.


For the first time, the winner of a bowl game officially decided the winner of the national title. Most major colleges didn’t agree with the idea of playoffs, so they agreed on a title game between the top two teams.

The Fiesta, Orange, and Sugar Bowls would rotate the honor of hosting this championship. The Big Ten and Pacific 10 conferences refused to send their champions anywhere other than the Rose Bowl, so that tradition continued for the time being.

When Nebraska faced Florida for the national title game, it was not a close game, with Nebraska annihilating Florida, 62-24.

Two Ohio State University players earned top awards: Eddie George won the Heisman Trophy, and Orlando Pace won the Lombardi Award (best lineman).


The NFL had added the two-point conversion rule a year earlier and it was a success, making the NFL more offense centered, and helping attendance rise. Extra point kicks were less common, and more points were scored.

The Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars were added as the league’s 29th and 30th teams. San Francisco, Dallas, Green Bay, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo all won their divisions.

After several exciting playoff matchups, the last four standing were Pittsburgh and Indianapolis from the AFC and Green Bay and Dallas from the NFC. The Championship games were well fought, but a Super Bowl rematch from 1975 season was in order. The Cowboys, in the middle of their last dynastic run, got revenge on the Steelers, beating them 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX.


Sports in 1996


The New York Yankees became baseball’s World Champions after defeating the Atlanta Braves in the 1996 World Series.

Mark McGwire hit 52 home runs, the most since George Foster in 1977 (also 52). Dave Winfield, Ozzie Smith, Andre Dawson, and Kirby Puckett (all future Hall of Fame members) retired.

Jim Bunning, Bill Foster, Earl Weaver, and Ned Hanlon were all elected into the Hall of Fame.


Kentucky faced Syracuse in the NCAA Finals and Kentucky, who had been favorites all year, won 76-67.

Marcus Camby (Massachusetts) won the Player of the Year award, and Gene Keady (Purdue), earned the Coach of the Year award.

The All-America team consisted of: Camby, Ray Allen, Allen Iverson, Kerry Kittles, and Tim Duncan.


Michael Jordan, yet again the best, led the league in scoring (2,491 points) and led the Chicago Bulls, to another NBA title.

Four players averaged a double-double every game: Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Charles Barkley, and Patrick Ewing.

John Stockton broke NBA records for assists and steals.


Mike Tyson knocked down Frank Bruno to earn the heavyweight title. Tyson then easily defended his title from challenging Bruce Seldon.

Evander Holyfield was next to challenge, but he beat Tyson and earned the Heavyweight title for himself.


Florida, facing #1 Florida State in the Sugar Bowl, upset Florida State and became finished the year in first place.

Danny Wuerffel (Florida) won the Heisman Trophy, completing 207 passes for 39 touchdowns and 3,625 yards. Lou Holtz, Notre Dame’s head coach for 11 years, resigned from his position.

Boston College threw 13 players off the team for gambling. The Big 8 became the Big 12 after adding Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Baylor.

Also, tie games were made impossible by a new overtime rule.


To the devastation of Browns fans, and the delight of football fans in Baltimore, Cleveland’s team was moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens.

The Houston Oilers played home games in a nearly empty stadium after announcing they would be moving to Nashville, Tennessee in 1998. The Seattle Seahawks nearly moved to Los Angeles, but stayed.

The Super Bowl thrust relative newcomer Brett Favre into the spotlight and he was up for the challenge. Although the New England Patriots had a good quarterback of their own in Drew Bledsoe, the Favre-led Pack was just too much for the Patriots and they won 35-21.


Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers of all time, was bestowed the honor of lighting the Olympic Torch in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

USA captured the gold medal again, in both Men’s and Women’s basketball, with the average margin of victory resting above 30 points per game.

The 100 meter dash record was broken by Donovan Bailey of Canada (9.84 seconds). The 200 and 400 meter records were broken by Michael Johnson of the USA.

Sports in 1997


Interleague play was introduced for the first time, where teams from the National and American leagues would play against each other in regular season games. Even though traditionalists were extremely unhappy about it, attendance soared as fans had the opportunity to watch teams they had never seen in person before.

Ken Griffey Jr. and Mark McGwire broke their own single-season home run records, with 56 and 58 respectively.

The World Series was a faceoff between wild card Florida Marlins and reigning AL Champions, the Cleveland Indians. The five-year-old franchise Florida Marlins won the World Series, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory for Cleveland once more.

Baseball expanded, adding the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Phil Niekro, Nellie Fox, Willie Wells, and Tommy Lasorda were all inducted into the Hall of Fame.


Arizona entered the 64-team championship as underdogs (19-9). However, they defeated Kansas in the second round. Then they continued to win, all the way up to the NCAA finals. Facing Kentucky, Arizona held on to win the NCAA championship.

Tim Duncan of Wake Forest was voted Player of the Year, and Arizona’s coach, Lute Olsen won Coach of the Year.


Nothing much changed in the NBA. Michael Jordan led the league in scoring for the 9th time in his illustrious career. The Bulls won their fifth title in seven years. Dennis Rodman was fined and suspended repeatedly.

Pat Riley (Miami) was named Coach of the Year, and Dikembe Mutombo was the Defensive Player of the Year.


Evander Holyfield was named the heavyweight champion after a controversial bout with Mike Tyson. Tyson, in a defense of the heavyweight title, was disqualified from the match.

In the third round, Holyfield accidentally head butted Tyson, then Tyson bit off the top of Holyfield’s ear. The fight was stopped to clean the wound then resumed. Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear again and was disqualified, making Holyfield the heavyweight champion.


Charles Woodson, Michigan’s cornerback, became the first defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.

Peyton Manning finished second in voting, and set records for passing yardage, touchdowns, and most 300-yard passing games in SEC history.

In the Rose Bowl, Michigan earned the NCAA football title, beating Washington State 21-16.


In the Super Bowl, Green Bay faced New England. For the game’s last touchdown, Desmond Howard returned a kickoff 99 yards, earning MVP and a record for the longest Super Bowl kickoff return. Green Bay beat New England, 35-21.

This Super Bowl, featuring Brett Favre, may go down as John Madden’s favorite of all time.

Sports in 1998


1998 was the year of the home run. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battled to break Roger Maris’s record of 61. In fact, by the end of the season both of them had broken the hallowed record, but McGwire hit 70 to best Sosa’s 66. As a side note, Ken Griffey, Jr. also did well, banging out 56 homers.

The New York Yankees had the second record in baseball history, winning 114 during the 162-game schedule. Boston (92-70) finished 16 games behind first, but won the wild-card spot as the best team to not win their division. In truth, Boston was the second best team in the AL.

The Atlanta Braves (106-56) were best in the NL, the Astros (102-60) were second, and San Diego won 98 games. The Chicago Cubs were named as the wild-card team, winning the tiebreaker to decide the spot.

The Yankees predictably made it to the World Series, but to most fans’ surprise, so did San Diego. The Padres beat Atlanta in the playoffs, 4 games to 2 to get there. Their success was short-lived however, as the Yankees swept the Padres, 4 games to none, outscoring them by a margin of 26-13, overall.

Kerry Wood (Chicago) set the strikeout record in a game, striking out 20 batters in a one-hit game. It was quite possibly the best single-game pitching performance of all time. Also, David Wells (New York, AL) threw a perfect game.

Elected to the Hall of Fame were Don Sutton, Larry Doby, Joe Rogan, George Davis, and Lee MacPhail, Jr., a former owner.


North Carolina was alone as a number one seed in the Final Four. Kentucky, Utah, and Stanford also made it to the Final Four. Even more surprising, North Carolina lost to Utah, and Kentucky beat Stanford. Kentucky had to work long and hard, but won the NCAA championship game, beating Utah 78-69.


It was almost like the old days, with the Chicago Bulls winning the NBA Finals, and Michael Jordan leading the league in scoring (28.7 points per game). Except that their coach, Phil Jackson, announced that he would not be returning for the 1999 season.

Dikembe Mutombo (Atlanta) was named the Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 11.4 rebounds a game. Tim Duncan (San Antonio) averaged 21.1 points and 11.9 rebounds a game, winning the Rookie of the Year award.


Evander Holyfield held his heavyweight title through 1998, and so did Lennox Lewis, deflating excitement for a title change. Mike Tyson, off the mat, drew more attention for his court battle with his promoter, who allegedly lost Tyson over $100 million.

Tyson also attempted to regain his boxing license, since he had lost it when he bit Holyfield’s ear in a previous fight. By October, Tyson was finally given back his boxing license.


Ohio State was the preseason favorites to win the NCAA title, and stayed at the top until they lost to Michigan State on November 7. Kansas State and UCLA had similar problems, losing one game each in December.

The BCS was created in 1998. It would officially decide who was first through means of polls, win-loss records, schedule strength, etc. The final game would be held in the Fiesta Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl hosted the match-up between Tennessee and Florida State, to decide who #1 was in the country. After four quarters of smash-mouth football, Tennessee was crowned the victor, 23-16.

In December, former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz accepted the head coaching job at the University of South Carolina. Joe Paterno won his 300th game at Penn State, a college record for most games won at a single college. Ricky Williams (Texas) set a new NCAA career rushing record, gaining 6,279 yards and a Heisman Trophy.


Referees took a verbal beating from the press and fans this year, after miscalling several crucial plays, like the outcome of a Seahawks game. The NY Jets, with conclusive evidence, did not cross into the end zone, but when miscalled, the Seahawks lost 32-31.

But the Super Bowl still came, and came strong. San Diego’s QUALCOMM Stadium hosted Super Bowl XXXII, a face-off between the Green Bay Packers and the Denver Broncos. Though the Packers played well in the first half, they tired in the second, allowing the Broncos to power through to a win, 31-24, giving John Elway his first NFL Championship in four Super Bowl trips.


In the second round of the World Cup, England’s David Beckham was given a red card. Even with 10 players, England nearly won, but lost 4-3 on penalty shootouts. In the Quarterfinals, Italy was knocked out by France, another 4-3 loss on shootouts.

The Semifinals came and went, and two teams advanced to the FIFA World Cup final. France and Brazil faced off, but Brazil was overpowered by France, and the French took home the Cup, 3-0.


World and/or Olympic records were made in every category for long distance speed-skating. The clap skate was made legal, which allowed for more powerful strokes. This resulted in 5 gold medals for the Netherlands, 2 for Germany, and 1 for Canada, Japan, and Norway.

The men’s hockey gold medal was won by the Czech Republic. The USA Women’s hockey team won the gold medal, beating Canada in the championship game.

Sports in 1999


While Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa destroyed home run records in 1998, the rest of the league followed suit in 1999, hitting a record 5,528 home runs combined (2.28 per game).

In a failed union strategy, 22 MLB umpires lost their jobs in mid-July. After MLB officials called the umpires’ bluff, all 22 umpires who had threatened resignation were released. The MLB hired 22 replacements, and the season went on as usual.

The Atlanta Braves won the NL East title with a 103-59 record. The Arizona Diamondbacks won the NL West title with a 100-62 record. The NL Central title was won by the Houston Astros who posted a 97-65 record.

The New York Yankees captured the AL East title with a 98-64 record. The Cleveland Indians, the only team in their division with a record over .500, finished 21.5 games over the White Sox. In the AL West, the Texas Rangers led with a 95-67 record.

In the American League championship, The Yankees came out victorious over the Wild Card Boston Red Sox. In the National League championship, the Braves beat out the Wild Card New York Mets.

In the World Series, the New York Yankees claimed their second straight title, and their second straight Series sweep.

The world also saw the passing of Joe DiMaggio on March 8, 1999. The Yankee Clipper had been one of the best players in baseball in the 1930s and ’40s. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955.


Led by Head Coach Jim Calhoun, the Connecticut Huskies captured their first championship title in the school history. They edged out the Duke Blue Devils in a 77-74 victory in the 1999 NCAA Tournament championship game.

It was Duke’s 8th title game appearance. In their first Final Four appearance since 1994, the Mike Krzyzewski-led Blue Devils were once again unable to claim victory.


Before the 1999 season even began, it looked as if there might not be a season at all. On July 1, 1998, NBA players agreed to a lockout, which lasted 204 days. This forced the league to cancel the first four months of the season, and the All-Star game.

The teams were forced to play a very dense schedule — 50 games in 89 days. The teams weren’t ready for this type of pace, and many played poorly.

The San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz both ended the season with a league-leading 37 wins. In the NBA title game, San Antonio ended the Chicago Bulls’ three-year dynasty. This was, of course, aided by Michael Jordan’s second retirement at the end of the 1998 season.


Much controversy and disappointment surrounded the boxing world in 1999. Mike Tyson came back to the ring after a 19-month suspension, but couldn’t seem to stay out of trouble.

In November, several officials were indicted for supposedly taking bribes.

The heavyweight title was decided in two fights between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield. The first match was declared a draw, despite Lewis’ performance, who landed nearly three blows for each of Holyfield’s. The second bouttitle was a unanimous Lewis victory by decision.


Florida State obliterated Virginia Tech in the National championship, 46-29.

The Heisman trophy was captured by running back Ron Dayne of the University of Wisconsin.

On October 16, 1999, Mount Union College won its 48th consecutive game, breaking the former record held by the 1957 University of Oklahoma.


Instant replay was reinstated after several controversial calls rekindled demand for it. The replay system had been abandoned in 1992 because it slowed down the game.

John Elway retired in April 1999, months after being named Super Bowl XXXIII MVP.

All-Pro defensive end Reggie White retired after 14 stellar years. He took with him the NFL record of 192.5 career sacks.

Running back Barry Sanders shocked the football world by suddenly retiring in what seemed to be the middle of his prime. Sanders needed only 1,458 yards to surpass Walter Payton’s all-time rushing record.

Quarterback Kurt Warner led the St. Louis Rams to victory in Super Bowl XXXIV against the Tennessee Titans. Heavy favorites, the Rams underwhelmed, but still won the Super Bowl, 23-16, stopping Titans receiver Kevin Dyson at the goal line on the final play.


In 1999, 23-year-old Tiger Woods was named PGA player of the year for the second time. He earned over $6 million in 20 PGA tournaments. Some of those included the Buick Invitational, Memorial and Western Open tournaments, the PGA championship, and the Tour championship.

The golf world was saddened by the sudden deaths of five players in a freak plane crash, one of them being Payne Stewart, who had just recently won the US Open.

1990s Major Sports Champions

Pro BaseballCincinnati Reds
Pro BasketballDetroit Pistons
College BasketballUNLV
Boxing (HW)Evander Holyfield
Pro FootballNew York Giants
College FootballColorado and Georgia Tech
Pro BaseballMinnesota Twins
Pro BasketballChicago Bulls
College BasketballDuke
Boxing (HW)Evander Holyfield
Pro FootballWashington Redskins
College FootballMiami (Fla.) and Washington
Pro BaseballToronto Blue Jays
Pro BasketballChicago Bulls
College BasketballDuke
Boxing (HW)Riddick Bowe
Pro FootballDallas Cowboys
College FootballAlabama
Pro BaseballToronto Blue Jays
Pro BasketballChicago Bulls
College BasketballNorth Carolina
Boxing (HW)Lennox Lewis
Pro FootballDallas Cowboys
College FootballFlorida State
Pro BaseballStrike Canceled Season
Pro BasketballHouston Rockets
College BasketballArkansas
Boxing (HW)Lennox Lewis
Pro FootballSan Francisco 49ers
College FootballNebraska
Pro BaseballAtlanta Braves
Pro BasketballHouston Rockets
College BasketballUCLA
Boxing (HW)George Foreman
Pro FootballDallas Cowboys
College FootballNebraska
Pro BaseballNew York Yankees
Pro BasketballChicago Bulls
College BasketballKentucky
Boxing (HW)Mike Tyson
Pro FootballGreen Bay Packers
College FootballU of Florida
Pro BaseballFlorida Marlins
Pro BasketballChicago Bulls
College BasketballArizona
Boxing (HW)Evander Holyfield
Pro FootballDenver Broncos
College FootballMichigan and Nebraska
Pro BaseballNew York Yankees
Pro BasketballChicago Bulls
College BasketballKentucky
Boxing (HW)Evander Holyfield
Pro FootballDenver Broncos
College FootballTennessee
Pro BaseballNew York Yankees
Pro BasketballSan Antonio Spurs
College BasketballConnecticut
Boxing (HW)Evander Holyfield
Pro FootballSt. Louis Rams
College FootballFlorida State

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