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The 30 Most Influential NCAA MBB Groups of SLAM’s 30 Years: ‘99 St. John’s


To have a good time SLAM’s thirtieth anniversary, we’re spotlighting the 30 most influential males’s school groups from our previous 30 years. Stats, data and chips aren’t the primary issue right here, it’s all about their contribution to the sport’s cultural cloth.

For the following 30 days—Monday by means of Friday— we’ll be unveiling the full record right here. We’ve additionally acquired an unique retro collegiate assortment, out now, that pays homage to every squad’s threads. Store right here.


Again in ‘99, St. John wasn’t only a college; they represented the true essence of New York Metropolis. Their males’s basketball group was no exception: with a hustler’s spirit, a chip on their shoulder, and newly sponsored hearth engine purple Jordan Model uniforms, they lifted this system into a brand new period. The Purple Storm could have entered the season unranked, however by March, the whole school ecosystem was echoing the vibrations of Queens. 

Head coach Mike Jarvis understood what he was coping with in his squad: gamers like Queensbridge native Metta Sandiford-Artest – recognized again then as Ron Artest –  grew up residing on New York Metropolis black tops. Toughness and perspective weren’t ever a query. As an alternative, he capitalized on that depth and fueled their native delight so that each time his gamers took the court docket, they performed to characterize themselves and town. With a 28-9 common season document, they captivated audiences in all places they went. Artest’s will to win was off the charts, like when he made positive to nail that three towards Duke to push the sport into OT as a result of he knew he’d sink it. Then there was freshman sensation Erick Barkley, who dazzled crowds with no-look passes and highlight-reel dunks. Bootsy Thornton didn’t simply dominate on the defensive finish; he may rating below any circumstances. The 2-time All-Massive East choice was good for practically 15 factors a sport, however the DMV native actually shined below the highlight. The No. 2 ranked Duke Blue Devils had been on the receiving finish of 1 such efficiency, the place Thorton exploded for a 40-piece. Bolstered by Tyrone Grant’s publish presence and Lavor Postell’s sharp taking pictures from deep, the Storm’s 5 double-digit scorers may gentle it up in transition and half-court. 

The Purple Storm weren’t afraid to bully their method by means of the Massive East whereas rocking these saggy but smooth bright-red uniforms. Any time they stepped on the ground, they weren’t content material with simply profitable; they needed to entertain, to go away spectators in awe of their expertise and dominance. St. John’s destroyed the Maryland Terrapins 76-62 as a result of they weren’t happy with simply profitable; they needed to present their dominance over their opponents. Barkley’s 24-piece was proof sufficient. Every sport was a spectacle, a showcase of the group’s expertise. 

The Massive East championship sport went all the way down to the wire towards UConn, and regardless of the 82-63 loss, that was only the start of their postseason run. St. John’s dominated the NCAA event by means of the Elite Eight, profitable every sport by a mean of 25 factors.

And even now, many years later, the legacy of the ‘99 St. John’s males’s basketball group lives on. They continue to be an emblem of hope and inspiration, a reminder that something is feasible with laborious work, dedication, and a never-say-die perspective. They weren’t only a group; they had been a phenomenon, a shining instance of what will be achieved when expertise, willpower, and coronary heart come collectively in good concord. Their affect prolonged far past the confines of the basketball court docket. With the Massive East working by means of Mecca in 98-99, the Purple Storm returned to the Backyard 25 years later to a standing ovation from the New York trustworthy. Their legacy is cemented and enshrined within the metropolis’s historic reference to the sport. 


Images by way of Getty Pictures.



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