May 31: A surprisingly important date in New York sports history

Joe NamathNew York Jets. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
Joe NamathNew York Jets. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images) /
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Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets. Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals 31 May, (Photo by JESSICA RINALDI/AFP via Getty Images) /

1989: Live from New York, it’s “Prime Time”

Bo Jackson may have done it before him, but Deion Sanders did it with flair. May 31, 1989, Prime Time made his New York Yankees debut. It was a big deal because at the time Sanders was an active NFL player with the Atlanta Falcons. He played 14 games with the bombers that season, batting .234.

Bonus Fact: During 1989, Sanders became the only man to hit a Major League home run and score an NFL touchdown in the same week.

1991: Pat Riley named Knicks head coach

After a first-round exit in the 1991 NBA Playoffs, the New York Knicks made a change on the bench. Pat Riley, the four-time NBA Championship coach with the “Show Time” Los Angeles Lakers, was hired to replace Stu Jackson and take the Knickerbockers to the next level.

He had them in the Finals by 1994. Unfortunately, he could take them no further. He infamously resigned via fax and was replaced by Don Nelson in 1995. The Knicks were 223-105 in the regular season, and 35-28 in the playoffs under Riley’s leadership.

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2002: Jason Kidd’s triple-double puts Nets in first NBA finals

Since joining the NBA in 1977, the New Jersey Nets never went further than the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. That changed on May 31, 2002. Led by Jason Kidd‘s triple-double, the Nets came back from 10-points down at half-time to pull out a 96-88 Game 6 win over Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals.

With the series win, the Nets went to their first-ever NBA Finals. They were swept in the finals by the Lakers.

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What are your recollections about May 31 in New York sports history? Let us know in the comments section below or on social media.