There are countless moments in sports history when a champion's will to win seemed to make the impossible possible. Elway and "The Drive," Montana and "The Catch," Pietrangelo and "The Save"; these represent awe-inspiring individual achievements.
However, there are plenty of equally jaw-dropping moments in sports when luck was more than an afterthought. From superstitious locker room rituals to "a lucky bounce," fortune has always been a key element of sports and another reason why fans love to watch them.
Sometimes, good luck is in the driver's seat, despite the best efforts of the players in the game.
Considering the plethora of problems that former NBA point/shooting guard Allen Iverson has faced in recent years, it's easy to forget how great he was when he was at his peak, especially when luck was on his side.
This video during his stint with the Nuggets is a great reminder. Iverson's shot against the Mavericks in 2008 didn't seem destined for the basket, but despite tripping backwards, he managed to sink the shot.
Okay, I'm not really sure if this counts as lucky for any of the parties involved—certainly not for the bird. But if Randy Johnson never would have pegged that poor bird with a fastball, then I never would have gotten to read the most ridiculously funny pun on YouTube:
I guess you could say it was a
In 2007, the Pistons' Ben Wallace made an unlikely shot-clock beating shot in a game against the Bulls. Wallace's shot seemed completely off the mark as it bounced straight up off the top of the backboard.
Much to his surprise and probably the Bulls, the ball came falling down and went through the basket on its way.
The Panthers' Stephen Weiss is awarded a penalty shot when two Coyotes players obviously pushed the net off its moorings.
Weiss does everything right, and it looks like he's got a sure goal when his deke fakes out the goalie and LaBarbera lands facedown on the ice, but the puck inexplicably grinds to a halt before passing the line.
Try to ignore the irritating music of this clip and just appreciate the luckiness of the forward who stumbles into the easiest goal of his life, thanks to a lucky bounce and an inept play by the goalkeeper.
At the 2010 British Open, Miguel Ángel Jiménez found himself unpleasantly having to resort to some some dramatics to get his ball out of an awkward position.
Jiménez was unable to get a good shot because of his proximity to a wall, so instead he decided to try to bank it off the wall and onto the green. In a shot that probably fails nine times out of 10, Jiménez pulled it off.
In a game against the Red Wings in December 2011, the Predators' Shea Weber sent an awkward wrist shot in the general direction of Detroit's goalie.
The weak shot should have resulted in an easy save, but a last-second bounce sent the puck into the net completely untouched.
According to the poster on YouTube, this lucky shot was supposed to be a pass, but instead it slipped by the goalkeeper.
Also lucky (for the audience) is the goalkeeper's accidental face slam into the net after the goal.
Tiger Woods faced an impossible shot on the 16th hole of the 2005 Masters Championship, and the announcers didn't even think that he had any chance of chipping in.
But of course, being the Tiger Woods of old, he surprised everyone by sinking one of the most amazing shots in the history of the game—although there was definitely some luck involved on this one.
All "Hail Mary" receptions are pretty lucky, although they aren't entirely uncommon in the NFL.
But it's not every day that David Garrard gets to play the hero and something goes right for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In December 1994 the Timberwolves' Isaiah Rider tried to prevent a turnover against the Kings. Rider grabbed the ball, heaved it blindly over his shoulder and basically just hoped for the best.
Well, he got the best. Rider scored an impossible three-pointer, and the shot was dubbed the NBA's "Play of the Decade."
It's a rare occasion when someone is immediately repaid for taking a figurative or literal soccer ball to the face—young college boy Alberto is the exception.
Alberto is on the unfortunate receiving end of a goalkeeper kick and takes a soccer ball straight to his dome. Normally things would just get worse for poor Alberto, but in this instance, the ball ricocheted off of his face and directly into the goal.
It's extremely rare that a goaltender scores a goal in hockey; in the NHL there's only a handful of goalies in history that have managed the feat. The Devils future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur is one of them.
Brodeur actually has scored two goals in his career. This one was against the Canadiens in a game that took place in April 1997.
The bunkers at Dunhill Links can be absolutely killer, and golfer Huey Lewis can testify to that.
After chipping the ball into the wall of the bunker twice, Lewis throws the ball out of the bunker with a blind toss and sinks it.
Scoring on a slap shot from center ice in hockey is like heaving a full-court shot as you're falling down in basketball; you just never imagine that you're going to score.
But the Bruins' Dennis Seidenberg surprised himself and the Senators when his routine slap shot, just meant to be a dump into Ottawa's zone, actually found the back of the net.
When a fan hits a half-court shot for a pile of money, it's always a lucky moment. After all, if an electrician could sink a half-court shot with ease, he'd probably be playing basketball instead of being an electrician.
Well, this electrician nailed his half-court shot at the Staples Center in April of 2010 and walked away with over $200k courtesy of the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.
Local sports broadcasters have seen it all, so usually they are just going through the motions with the play-by-play each night.
Thankfully every now and then the local high school stars will throw them a bone and give them something genuinely worth getting excited about—like someone sinking a game-tying buzzer beater on his or her back!
I was surprised to learn that goalkeepers scoring goals in soccer isn't that uncommon of an occurrence. Not that it happens every day, but still more than I had imagined—particularly in amateur play.
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard's goal against Bolton is definitely the most amazing of the bunch. Howard was trying to clear the ball and ended up scoring an end-to-end goal from more than 100 yards away.
In June 2011, Earthquakes goalkeeper David Bingham scored an amazing end-to-end goal in a game against West Brom.
Bingham was just looking to clear the ball downfield, so he must have been stunned when a lucky bounce caused it to sail over the opposing goalkeeper's dome.
It's almost hard to believe the shot made in this grainy video. A high school kid just tries to prolong the play and keep the ball from going out of bounds.
As he throws the ball back into play, it inexplicably loops up, seemingly defying the laws of physics, and comes back around and ends up in the basket.
At the 2005 Smurfit European Open in Ireland, Darren Clarke's shot seemed absolutely destined for a nautical landing. It seems the golf gods had a different plan in mind.
After hitting the ball just wide of the green, Clarke's ball rolled off the edge onto rocks below. But instead of continuing into the water, it bounced around on the rocks before propelling itself back up onto a thin cut of rough.
You've seen the full-court heave plenty of times in basketball games, and it almost never works.
This is an instance where it works, and no one looks more surprised than the kid who chucks the ball.
This guy was in the unfortunate position of being up against the net when his opponent returned the ball high.
Normally that's a big problem and results in a point for the opposition, but this guy chucked his racket up in the air and returned the ball.
Capitals superstar forward Alexander Ovechkin is a great talent on the ice, but on the golf course, he is definitely a fish out of water—not that it stopped him from getting a hole in one on a par three hole.
Ovi's hole in one came after some Happy Gilmore-style practice swings before he finally teed off.
This 59-year-old lady had the opportunity to make a very unlikely shot to win a Ford truck.
The announcers didn't think that she had a shot in hell, as the puck traveled very slowly to the net, but she surprised everyone—especially the owner of the Ford dealership.
In April 2009, a junior high kid named David Girmscheid achieved Internet immortality when he chucked the ball down court for what would become one of the most epic buzzer beaters ever.
The ball initially smacked off of the backboard before flying into the rafters and then rolling down some unidentifiable object and through the basket.