The 5 Worst Events in Houston Sports History
They say inspiration comes from strange sources. I don't think I've ever agreed more.
I came up with the idea for this article while hugging a cool porcelain toilet in the Staples Center's men's bathroom closest to section 206 back in January.
Maybe I should explain.
They were outscoring us. They were out rebounding us. They were out hustling us. They were outclassing us, and I was sick.
I think it was the burger I wolfed down, but I am more than willing to blame the Rockets' terrible effort.
Back to my head leaning against the Staples Center's potty, I was ill beyond belief. During my third Ivy League call (Haaaaa-vard) I realized something profound.
This was not the first time that a Houston sports team had succeeded in making me sick to my stomach.
Let's go through some of the Pepto-Bismol moments the Bayou City has experienced.
The Houston Oilers managed to blow a 32 point lead in a single excruciating half of play.
After throwing for four touchdowns in the first half of the 1993 AFC Wild Card game, Warren Moon could only manage two interceptions and a fumble (which he recovered) in the concluding half.
Making matters worse, the Bills were playing without future Hall of Famers Thurman Thomas and Jim Kelly.
This game still remains the biggest comeback in NFL playoff history.
It's also the game that caused Oilers fans to shoot their television sets.
Stros' World Series Woes
The Houston Astros took 44 years to get to the World Series. Most Houstonians thought this would be enough fuel for them to breakthrough to a championship.
That something turned out to be the Houston Astros.
Games One and Two went true to form with the hometown White Sox winning both games. Game three, provided the Astros their best chance to swing the momentum, but they lost a bitter 14 inning marathon.
The deciding game saw only one run scored.
Unfortunately, that run belonged to the White Sox.
As quickly as the Astros had ascended to their namesake, they were ground back to Earth. This team hasn't been heard from since.
The Rockets quickly showed themselves to be the dominant team at the outset of Games 1 and 2 of the series. In both games they fostered leads of 18 and 20 points respectively against the reeling Suns.
However, the team from Houston apparently forgot that the game lasts four quarters. The Suns inexplicably found a way to win both games and headed to Phoenix with a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead.
The performance earned Houston a new nickname: "Choke City."
Phi Slama Jama's Demise
Phi Slama Jama was an institution. A college team the likes of which rarely comes around.
Three Final Fours, and no titles to show for it.
In 1983 though, they had a great shot against the underdog North Carolina State Wolfpack in the National Championship game.
The NCAA tourney was one for the ages. Highlighted (some would say) by the No. 1 University of Houston Cougars vs. No. 2 Louisville Cardinals. Phi Slam Jama vs. The Doctors of Dunk.
That game, while entertaining, was one that the Cougars maintained control of and won by a 13 point margin.
It was the Championship game that proved to be kryptonite for the supermen of college basketball.
Houston's beloved team went down by one point on a last minute desperation dunk to the Cardiac Pack. Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler were denied a college championship, which they made up for in the 1995 NBA Finals as they won a ring together.
Most tragically though, U of H Coach Guy V. Lewis has never made the Basketball Hall of Fame. An honor he most assuredly would have garnered if his '83 Cougars had only boxed out Lorenzo Charles at the end of the game.
Oilers Get Jobbed by the Zebras
January 6, 1980, a date that will live forever in Houston sports infamy.
The AFC Championship game that was supposed to end with the Houston Oilers earning their first ever Super Bowl berth.
Things didn't turn out that way though, as Earl Campbell (1979 NFL MVP and rushing champ) was held to a paltry 15 yards on 17 carries.
The offense could not muster a TD. The Oilers were only able to get in the end zone off of a Vernon Perry 75 yard interception return.
The tale of the tape came in the 3rd quarter. From the Steeler's 6-yard line Oilers' QB Dan Pastorini lobbed a beautiful pass to the right corner of the end zone which was cradled by wide receiver Mike Renfro.
Mike Renfro, Dan Pastorini, Coach Bum Phillips, Dick Enberg, Merlin Olsen, and No. 29 from the Steelers' secondary all knew it was a touchdown.
But the officials did not.
This miscarriage of justice became the leading catalyst for instant replay in the NFL.
It also became one of the most sickening moments in Houston sports history.