From Matthews to Chamberlain, the best rookie debuts in history

No grief for this Leaf!

Toronto Maple Leafs rookie and the first overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft, Auston Matthews, 19, certainly lived up to the hype on Wednesday night, scoring four times against the Senators.

Although his team lost 5-4 in overtime, Matthews set the NHL world on fire. He became the first player to score four goals in his debut.

And while the Maple Leafs are no doubt looking ahead to the upcoming season, we take a moment to look back at some of the best rookie debuts in sports history.

Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews scores four goals in NHL debut

Wilt Chamberlain (1959)

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Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors NBA Basketball team, Jan. 19, 1960.

(Anonymous/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Wilt Chamberlain, arguably the best player to ever set foot on the hardwood, made his debut with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959 after being a Harlem Globetrotter from 1958-59.

In his first NBA game against the New York Knicks, the center scored 43 points and pulled down 28 rebounds.

Chamberlain finished the season averaging 37.6 points per game and 27 rebounds, shattering the previous records.

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J.R. Richard (1971)

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Houston Astro pitcher James Rodney Richard (50) concentrates on the mound as he pitches against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, June 12, 1980 in Houston.

(Anonymous/AP)

J.R. Richard, as a member of the Houston Astros, took the hill against the San Francisco Giants on September 5, 1971.

In the outing he threw a complete game, giving up just two earned runs and tying the MLB record with 17 strikeouts in his first start.

Richard’s career came to a premature end when the flame-thrower suffered a stroke in 1980. He still holds the club record for most strikeouts in a season (313 in 1979) and held the club’s all-time strikeout record until 1987.

Allen Iverson crushed by Colbert in wastepaper basket shootout

Allen Iverson (1996)

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Allen Iverson (3) looks on during the second half of their game against the Detroit Pistons Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2005, in Auburn Hills, Mich.

(DUANE BURLESON/AP)

Allen Iverson, better known as A.I., debuted with the Philadelphia 76ers on November 1, 1996.

He was pitted against fellow rookie Ray Allen — one of the best three-point shooters of all time. Still, A.I. ended up with 30 points and six assists.

Randy Moss (1998)

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Minnesota Vikings receiver Randy Moss, who electrified the NFL in his rookie season.

Minnesota Vikings receiver Randy Moss, who electrified the NFL in his rookie season.

(Savoia/AP)

As a newly drafted receiver for the Minnesota Vikings, rookie Randy Moss took to the field in week one against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

His first game was an overwhelming success, for Moss logged his first multi-touchdown game: he had four receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns — from quarterback Randall Cunningham.

Moss’ career spanned 14 years and he amassed 982 receptions, 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns.

Anquan Boldin (2003)

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A SEPT. 7, 2003 PHOTO

In a Sept. 7, 2003 photo, Arizona Cardinals’ Anquan Boldin pulls away from Detroit Lions defensive back Jimmy Wyrick at Ford Field in Detroit.

(Carlos Osorio/AP)

On September 7, 2003, Florida State phenom Anquan Boldin took the field against the Detroit Lions.

While the Cards dropped this one 42-24, Boldin set an NFL record for most receiving yards by a rookie in his first game (217) and he went on to set the record for most receptions in the first 26 games of an NFL career (157).

LeBron James (2003)

King James took the court at just 18 years old for the Cleveland Cavaliers on October 29, 2003, against the Sacramento Kings.

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James was hailed as the best rookie to enter the NBA in years, if not ever.

The “Chosen One” put up an impressive line: 25 points, nine assists, six rebounds and four steals.

That season, James won NBA Rookie of the Year, averaging 20.9 points per game.

Stephen Strasburg (2010)

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Washington.

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Washington.

(Alex Brandon/AP)

On June 8, 2010, Strasburg took the hill for the first time in a Washington Nationals uniform, and boy did he impress.

In the matchup, versus the Pittsburgh Pirates, Strasburg posted 14 strikeouts over seven innings — allowing two runs.

Several months into his major league career, however, Strasburg suffered a torn ligament in his pitching elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery and a year of rehabilitation.

The flame-thrower pitched again for club on September 6, 2011 and returned to form by the 2012 season. (Still, his career to date has been plagued by injuries.)

Daniel Nava (2010)

Boston Red Sox's Daniel Nava watches his sixth-inning single off Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jeff Niemann during a baseball game Tuesday, July 6, 2010, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Boston Red Sox’s Daniel Nava watches his sixth-inning single off Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jeff Niemann during a baseball game Tuesday, July 6, 2010, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

(Chris O’Meara/AP)

Daniel Nava made his major league debut for the Boston Red Sox (as the left fielder) on June 12, 2010, when the team faced the Philadelphia Phillies.

On the very first pitch he saw in the major leagues, Nava crushed a grand slam off Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton.

Nava is only the fourth player to have hit a grand slam in his first at-bat.

Nava, now 33, played in 45 games this season for the Angels (batting .235) and was traded to the Royals in August.

Cam Newton (2011)

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton loosens up before the start of an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins, Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, in Miami.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton loosens up before the start of an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins, Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, in Miami.

(Gary I. Rothstein/AP)

Reigning MVP Cam Newton first saw NFL competition on September 11, 2011 in a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.

The college standout, who’d just brought a championship to Auburn a few months prior (throwing for 262 yards and two scores versus the Oregon Ducks), did not miss a beat: he threw for 422 yards and two scores, and rushed for an additional one. However, his team lost 28-21.

Newton brought his team to the Super Bowl in 2015, although the Panthers lost in it to the Denver Broncos, 24-10.

Robert Griffin III (2012)

Robert Griffin III burst onto the NFL scene back in 2012.

Robert Griffin III burst onto the NFL scene back in 2012.

(Ron Antonelli/Daily News)

The once-promising standout Robert Griffin III, aka “RG3,” first took a snap in the NFL on September 9, 2012 versus the New Orleans Saints.

Griffin, then a Redskin, went 19 for 26 with 320 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Plus he amassed 42 yards on the ground over nine rushes.

In his second drive, he threw an 88-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon.

And let’s not forget who was lined up under center for the Saints: perennial statistics leader Drew Brees.

The Redskins won 40-32, besting Brees and company, making Griffin the first quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards in a victorious debut.

This year, as a member of the Cleveland Browns, Griffin was placed on injured reserve following a shoulder injury in a week one loss.

Trevor Story (2016)

Colorado Rockies Trevor Story (27) hits against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Phoenix.

Colorado Rockies Trevor Story (27) hits against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Phoenix.

(Matt York/AP)

The 23-year-old took the field for the first time as the starting shortstop for the Colorado Rockies on April 4 of this year.

And his first opposing pitcher: Zack Greinke, who posted a stat line of 19-3, 1.66 ERA and 200 Ks in 2015.

No worries! Story blasted two home runs in his first two at bats.

The Rockies won 10-5, revealing a suspiciously out-of-character Greinke but also a promising new MLB shortstop.

He was placed on the DL in August with an injured thumb.

Honorable Mention: Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin (2016)

POOL PHOTO

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge, left, and Tyler Austin greet each other in the dugout before their baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday, Aug.13, 2016, at Yankee Stadium in New York.

(John Munson/AP)

In an August 13, 2016 game against the Tampa Bay Rays — immediately following the speedy retirement of slugger Alex Rodriguez — both Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge made their MLB debuts.

And they were right beside each other in the lineup.

Austin, in his first at-bat, hit an opposite field home run (just over the right field wall) off Matt Andriese. Then, Judge came to the plate and smacked a mammoth home run to deep center field.

It marked the first time that two teammates had hit home runs in their first at-bats in the same game (and it was back-to-back!).

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nhl
toronto maple leafs
auston matthews
wilt chamberlain
nba
allen iverson
philadelphia 76ers
randy moss
minnesota vikings
nfl
lebron james
cleveland cavaliers
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