There’s a reason we use the phrase “slam dunk” when talking about something that is almost certainly a sure thing; of all the ways of dropping a basketball through a 10-foot high hoop, none are more likely to work than the one that doesn’t require a ball to fly some distance through the air.
While most people don’t have the ability to jump high enough to slam dunk a basketball, those that do really have no excuse for missing one. In fact, every sport has its own version of a slam dunk—a ‘can’t miss’ shot that athletes do, on occasion, miss. And when they do, it can happen at the worst possible time.
Whether it’s nerves or the other guy’s fault (isn't it always the other guy's fault?) is of little consequence; all that mattered is it happened. And nothing whips sports fans into a frenzy of incredulous outrage more effectively than an epic fail on an easy shot.
These are moments that made us say, “How the hell did you miss that?!”
What more could the Brooklyn Knight ask for in his attempt to entertain the crowd with an acrobatic dunk during halftime? The dude's set-up included a trampoline, a gaggle of hot dancers cheering him on and, most importantly, a cape.
So, he had a device to make him jump high, ladies to give him confidence and a cape...well...because of cape. Capes certainly worked for Superman, Batman and Spawn. It wasn't enough for the Brooklyn Knight.
The Nets mascot not only misses, but does so in spectacular fashion—lodging the ball above the backboard, where it remained at the start of the second half.
When a tennis pro fails on a serve, it's usually a case of a careless foot fault or the ball lands just outside the opponent's service box; at worst, the ball eats net. In this case, women's pro Li Na played the kind of tennis I know and love.
At the 2013 Australian Open, Na called her shot and crushed a serve into the stands—just like one of my typical "matches". It's simply mind boggling to see someone as skilled Na serve like ol' Amberino at the Quaker Valley YMCA tennis court.
Free throws have made a mockery of some the NBA's best, including one of the all-time worst at the line, Shaquille O'Neal.
While Shaq has tossed up more than a few ugly free throws, the fact he was a giant dude tossing a ball, uncontested, at a hoop just two Shaq-lengths away from him...meant he usually got it in the vicinity of the basket.
For the Bobcats' (of course, he plays for the Bobcats) DeSagana Diop, however, such a feat proved too tough a task on this attempt in 2012.
The only acceptable explanation for only getting the basketball about two-thirds of the way to the basket is that some prankster who can stop time, did so as Diop released the ball, replacing it with a lead sphere.
Everyone knows that in any sport worth watching, style points don't count. So one of the worst things an athlete can do is go for style points while sacrificing actual points.
That's exactly what happens in this Finnish hockey game. Two forwards find themselves in a 2-on-1 with a helpless defender in front of an open net. Should be a sure score.
Should be. The forwards decide to get cute faking out the defender with what turns out to be one too many passes, because No. 87 completely fans on the shot.
The layup is synonymous with any task that should be successfully completed with ease. It's how people who suck at basketball manage to sink at least one basket out of a few dozen tries.
We expect children in youth leagues to do layups, so when former-Wizards shooting guard Nick Young rainbowed this layup on a breakaway against the Lakers last year, it truly defied explanation.
And the countless animated GIFs of the travesty floating around the interwebs make sure he never outlives it.
Failing to score when there is absolutely nothing to stop a player in any sport, other than a little space—in this case, being incapable of burying the puck in the back of an empty net—it always feels like a career-ending mistake. In former-Stars center Patrik Stefan's case, it was.
Stefan was once a hyped prospect from the Czech Republican who had largely been a disappointment in the NHL, but his inexplicable choke, which was followed by the Oilers' Ales Hemsky's goal moments later, ended up being the nail in his career's coffin.
In basketball, at both the collegiate and pro levels, when a player steals the ball near midcourt and is racing toward the basket...you expect him to finish with authority; gracefully burying a layup or bringing the fans to their feet with an electrifying dunk. It's a given, right?
Not this time—in 2011, Purdue's Lewis Jackson had such an opportunity (in a game the Boilermakers ultimately lost) and everything about his body language said, "Getcha popcorn ready."
However, everything that happened said, "I'm 5'9" and can't quite do this."
In 2011, Predators rookie center Craig Smith gave life to what surely was a nightmare scenario that any first-year player would contemplate when anxiously thinking about all the things that could go wrong in his first year in the NHL.
With a wide-open net begging to be kissed with a puck, Smith couldn't handle the sheer ease of the opportunity; he didn't whiff, stumble over his skates, or lose the puck off his stick...he blasted it over the glass while just outside the crease.
A layup is the simplest shot in basketball. Even short little losers like me have been able to master getting the "H" in H.O.R.S.E. in a respectable amount of time. So there is seriously no excuse for an NBA player missing an easy layup.
Especially this uncontested layup by the Pistons' Brandon Knight (which he decided to go for instead of something more respectable) with the closest Celtics defender barely entering three-point range as he goes in for the score.
This one wasn't…even…close.
The 76ers selected Marreese Speights No. 16 overall in the 2008 NBA Draft. In December of that year he attempted a dunk in a game against the Nuggets.
A dunk described by the uploader as the "WORST AIRBALL DUNK IN NBA HISTORY!!!"
Now, I haven't seen every airball dunk in NBA history, but I can confirm this one is pretty freaking bad. No wonder he's been on three teams in the last year.
As any fan knows, the only thing worse than losing, is losing after a near miraculous chain of events gave you hope when moments before you had none. For the players who live it, the experience has to be a million times more painful.
The "River City Relay" is the perfect example of the cruelly fickle nature of the game—and on that day in 2003, the punishment was meted out by one John Carney, kicker for the Saints.
After an improbable last-second play (one that almost always ends pathetically) of catch-and-lateral that went 75 yards for a touchdown, the Saints were just an extra point away from tying the game at 20.
Alas, normally reliable veteran kicker John Carney murdered the hopes and dreams of Saints fans and players alike when he shanked the extra point.
The kid in this video is a perfect example of what can happen when you start planning your victory dance before actually accomplishing anything. He probably couldn't even believe his luck when the goalkeeper came out to challenge him and missed completely.
Dude has more than enough time to take it in for the uncontested goal; all he had to do was keep his cool and not overthink things. Unfortunately, he failed on both fronts. The kid had the empty net right where he wanted it…and it all just fell apart.
In college football there's really no such thing as a "gimme" field goal. Maybe the extra point, but anything other than that can get dicey. In the NFL anything inside the 35-yard line should be automatic, lest a kicker be out of a job.
Which is why when the Ravens' Billy Cundiff lined up to kick a game-tying 32-yard field goal against the Patriots in the 2012 AFC Championship, with just :11 seconds left on the clock, the game look destined to become an overtime classic.
Uh…except that Cundiff didn't get the memo. In one of the biggest games in Ravens franchise history, he had one of the biggest, costliest shanks in NFL history.
In hockey, missing a wide-open net for no other reason than such a too-good-to-be-true opportunity proved to be the best defense in the absence of an opposing player is inexcusable.
But, it's still a dude trying to shoot a small disc into a relatively modest net while moving on a sheet of ice—things happen.
However, when you're staring at an empty, gaping soccer goal unopposed after the goalkeeper face-planted in the pitch...all you have to do is tap the damn ball in the general direction of said goal.
Ali Sami Yachir of MC Alger did worse than nothing; he did the only thing that could stop his club from scoring: He sent the ball rocketing to nowhere.
While jaw-droppingly awful choke-jobs on 'gimmes' often have nothing more on the line than an athlete's dignity, sometimes it results in a devastating reversal of fortune.
In 1989, PGA golfer Scott Hoch was poised to win the Masters on one of those two-foot putts you or I would probably let a friend score without actually swinging a putter (or maybe by pretending the putter is a pool cue), when he just...missed.
This wasn't one of those freaky, gravity-defying misses, where the ball circles the edge like an orbiting planet; he just...friggin...missed. And, Nick Faldo won.