Heartbreak City: Heartbreaking Defeats in Sports.
Orlando Magic fans are probably rehashing Courtney Lee's missed lay-up in their mind right now. It was a heartbreaking defeat for Magic fans that could have changed the outcome of the series against the Los Angeles Lakers, or at least made it closer.
As someone who has been there and done that, I feel for you.
I am sick of all the lists talking about the best Championship teams, best Super Bowl winners and best everything in general.
They say people only remember the winners, not the losers of a given sporting event.
Do you know who remembers the losers? The fans of the team that lost that fateful day—they will never forget.
This is for the fans who follow every play, every game and every season, just as the fans on the winning team do, but for one measly play, kick, pitch, shot, etc. that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.
We are the ones who have nothing to show for countless hours spent following a team throughout the season, except for another painful memory.
Please don't give me that B.S. about how your team was better all along and deserved to win. There's luck involved in sports too my friend, not just in a casino.
To make it on this list, you as a fan have to have truly suffered for your team because your team has been historically inept and/or inept preceding that game.
So Yankee fans, if you cry about Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, I will smack you with one of your 26 World series trophies.
Same goes for Lakers fans, Red Wings fans, AC Milan etc.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a comprehensive list. Repeat, THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE LIST.
Sorry I wasn't born when the "Shot heard around the World Happened," so that's why its not on there.
Also, I am a Chicago Sports fan, so I will probably have missed some moments that deserve to be on there.
If you have other heartbreaking defeats that you think should go on the list, please feel free to post it as a comment. Also, for length reasons, I only put one loss per team.
Finally, these aren't ranked, because obviously each fan of a respective team feels that their loss is the worst.
The Music City Miracle
Bills fans might be shocked that this is placed over Scott Norwood's infamous Wide Right, and you have a strong case.
But here's my reasoning: that was only the first Super Bowl of four consecutive Super Bowls that the Bills would go onto lose.
So while you endured a devastating loss, you hadn't gone through the pain of losing four straight Super Bowl appearances. A streak that is unquestionably unique in all of sports.
This play occurred after all, and plus a missed field goal is not an uncommon sight in the NFL.
A last second kickoff return caught by a tight end who then legally/illegally throws the ball across the field to a receiver who runs for a touchdown is legendarily ridiculous. (I know..I just made up the work legendarily, but I think it fits).
Iniesta's Miracle Boot
Chelsea fans have had an interesting history. Until 2005, they hadn't won a League championship for fifty years.
But after consistently finishing in the top half of the league for a while, they finally captured the Premier League trophy in 2005, aided partially by a Russian oligarch's money.
However, they have continued to suffer in the Champion's League(the Super Bowl of European Soccer) for the last six years, marked by famous defeats including Louis Garcia's ghost goal and John Terry's missed penalty in the final last year.
In fact, you might be wondering why Terry's penalty miss is not on this list instead. But it added just the right amount of suffering to set-up this year's disastrous defeat.
Chelsea were huge underdogs against Barcelona, but through manager Guus Hiddink's tactical masterclass, shut-out the Catalans on the road at the Camp Nou.
All they had to do was win the return leg at their own fortress, Stamford Bridge, to head back to the Champions league final against Manchester United.
Michael Essien unleashed a thunderbolt that gave the Blues(ironic name) the lead 10 minutes into the game and set up 80 minutes of pulse-pounding drama.
The referee then proceeded to miss multiple calls against Chelsea that would have sealed the game. Then to add further intrigue, he dubiously sent off a Barcelona player, allowing Chelsea fans to breathe a sigh of relief and provide them with that toxic elixir, HOPE.
Hope that they would beat Man U in the final and ease the pain of losing last year's final and allow John Terry to sleep at night. There is truly no way to avenge a heart-breaking defeat, but beating the same team again the next year is the closest thing possible. (See 2004 Red Sox v. Yankees).
All Chelsea had to do was shutout Barcelona for 30 minutes, which seemed easy considering Chelsea had done that for more than two hours and they were one-man up.
But then in the 93rd minute, ONE MINUTE AWAY FROM THE FINAL WHISTLE, Chelsea's hero Essien painfully missed a clearance in the box. The ball bounced around to Andres Iniesta, who unleashed a screamer into the top corner.
NOPE. The referee had time to make another dubious call against Chelsea to top it off and make him the most-hated man in West London.
Paxson Sinks Suns
It has been stated that the Phoenix Suns are the Chicago Cubs of the NBA.
17 fifty-win seasons, eight trips to the Western Conference Finals and two NBA finals losses, in 1976 and 1993.
In 1993, even though they had the best record in the league and featured the MVP—the Round Mound of Rebound—Charles Barkley, the Suns were underdogs against the two-time defending champion Bulls.
Fast-forward to Game 6, Phoenix led by four points with 1:30 left on the clock in the fourth quarter after the Bulls had gone cold. If the Suns win this, they play Game 7 at home for the title.
The Suns held the ball too long on their next possession causing Dan Majerle to heave a 25-foot 3-point attempt. It almost bounced in but Barkley pulled down the offensive board anyways to get the Suns another possession.
As Majerle was walking off the court, Suns coach Paul Westphal jokingly gave him the choke gesture. I repeat, the head coach of the team insinuated that his own player was CHOKING! It doesn't matter how loose your team is, you never want to put doubts in a player's head in a pressure-packed situation, and that's exactly what Westphal did.
Phoenix ran a set to get Frank Johnson (not a shooter) a wide-open 20 footer which he missed. Then, just like in '98, MJ went coast-to-coast for a lay-up that cut the lead in half and used barely any time off the clock.
38.1 seconds left, Phoenix up by two. Phoenix works the ball around before finding Majerle for a WIDE-OPEN 17-footer from the baseline. Majerle, a good shooter, could make this shot 90% of the time in his sleep.
Maybe it was nerves or more probably Westphal's CHOKE SIGN, but "Dan the Man" inexplicably AIR-BALLED the wide-open jump shot.
13.6 seconds left. The whole world is focused on Jordan who dribbles the ball down the court. He lobs a pass to Pippen at the top of the 3-pt line. Barkley going for the steal overreaches allowing Scottie to drive past him to the hoop. As three Suns collapse on Pippen, he drops it off to Grant, who kicks it out to a WIDE-OPEN John Paxson.
Paxson, the secret MVP of the 1991 NBA Finals, has been in this spot many times before. He rises up with what is probably the most fundamentally sound basketball release ever and nails the three.
3.9 seconds, Bulls up by one. Kevin Johnson drives past Horace Grant and looks to have a open look at a runner from the free throw line. But as soon as he goes up, Grant recovers to block the shot from behind.
If you're a Suns fan, there are many questions left after the game.
Why was KJ not featured more in the closing minutes?
Why was Frank Johnson even in the game?
How big did the choke sign feature into the player's heads? (The Suns missed seven out of their last eight shots.)
Phoenix fans have continued to endure more misery in the 21st century through the rise and fall of the 7-second Suns. This included multiple devastating losses to the Spurs including the infamous Robert Horry hip check on Steve Nash and all its repercussions.
The Aaron Boone Game
Red Sox fans have probably forgotten about this now that they have memories from two World Series in their heads, including the greatest comeback in sports against the Yankees.
But during the postseason of 2003, Red Sox fans had suffered for 85 years without winning a World Series which included the famous collapse against the Mets and the incessant Babe Ruth Curse.
That was the stage for the ALCS against their bitter rivals, the New York Yankees. Fast forward to Game 7, when the Red Sox had their ace, Pedro Martinez, arguably the best pitcher in baseball on the mound.
The Red Sox are up 5-2 in the 8th inning, six outs from the World Series, with Martinez still on the hill. There's that toxic elixir again, hope.
Everyone knows what happens next. Grady Little leaves Pedro in the game, Yankees tie the game, and then go onto win the game on Aaron Boone's home run in the 11th inning.
This is compounded by ESPN replaying that HR and rehashing the Babe Ruth curse for a nauseating amount of hours.
Honorable Mention: Bill Buckner's error.
Isn't it ironic that many of these iconic moments come exactly a year after another disastrous moment in history?
It's like God is toying with you.
One year after "The Drive", when John Elway kicked the Cleveland Browns out of the 1987 AFC Championship game with one of his patented fourth-quarter comebacks, the Browns faced off against the Broncos again in the AFC Championship game.
Ironically (nice one, God), it was the Browns who had to embark on a late-game drive to tie the game this time. Down 38-31, Bernie Kosar led the Browns to the 8-yd line with 1:12 left on the clock.
HOPE! What better way to avenge the "Drive" with a memorable drive of their own.
Browns RB Earnest Byner took the hand-off and looked to be on the way to a game-tying TD...
when he was stripped from behind by Broncos defensive back Jeremiah Castille at the 3-yd line. The Broncos recovered.
Browns fans would continue to suffer, another close playoff loss to home against the Oilers followed, succeeded by another rematch against the Broncos in the 1990 AFC Championship game. Gratefully, that one was never in doubt.
That was followed by the "Disastrous" Bill Belichick years, which ended in Art Modell packing up his bags and taking the team to Baltimore.
Cleveland was without an NFL team for three years, before having to suffer the ignominy of being an "expansion" franchise. Adding to the misery, in the 2nd year of the Browns' return to the NFL, the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000, with former Browns players on their roster.
The Final Shot?
Utah fans have suffered ever since the team has arrived to Salt Lake City.
Not only did the get stuck with the washed-up Pistol Pete Maravich, In 1976, the team traded its future first round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for Gail Goodrich.
Guess who the Lakers obtained with that pick in the 1979 draft? Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Ouch.
In 1982, the Jazz drafted Dominque Wilkins with the third pick before trading him to the Atlanta Hawks. Ouch.
But the Jazz luckily drafted another great point guard, John Stockton in 1984, and Karl Malone the next year, who would form one of the best duos in NBA history for almost twenty years.
The Jazz made the playoffs every year after Stockton was drafted, but it would be 12 years before they made the NBA Finals. During the only title window in the early 90's, when Jordan was swinging maple bats, they were defeated twice by the eventual champion Rockets.
They finally beat the Rockets in '97 in the conference finals, and who do they meet in the Finals. Michael freaking Jordan!
The Jazz lost in six games due to a late game shot by...Steve Kerr (assisted by Jordan of course), but also had memories of a buzzer-beater and miraculous flu performance courtesy of MJ.
The next season, the Jazz finished with the best record locking up the all-important home-court advantage (the Jazz had the loudest fans in the league) and were facing the Bulls team on its last dynasty legs.
The Jazz had brought the series back to Utah for Game 6, and if they won, would play Game 7 at home. With Scottie Pippen nursing a back injury and a 35-yr old tired MJ singlehandedly carrying the Bulls, the advantage was with Utah.
Game 6 swung back and forth, and with one minute left, the game was tied at 83. Stockton blew the roof off with a 3-point shot with 41.9 seconds left.
If Utah pulled this out, they would have winner-take-all Game 7 on their home court. H-O-P-E.
Then the closer went to work.
First he quickly went down the court and drove for a lay-up that ate up all of five seconds, which is exactly what the Jazz didn't want to happen.
Then showing off his all-world defensive skills, he stripped the ball from Malone setting up one final shot.
Ice flowing through his veins, he drove to the right, gave Brian Russell a love-tap, and buried the iconic jumper pictured above.
There was still five seconds left, setting up one final dramatic moment. Stockton shot a 3-point prayer that rimmed in and out, allowing the Bulls to celebrate their sixth championship on Utah's court.
Forgotten Moment: Utah's Howard Eisley earlier in the game had made a 3-point shot that had been incorrectly ruled as a shot-clock violation.
The NBA! Where Amazing Happens...with a little referee help.
The Jazz get bonus points for being the only professional sports franchise in Utah, so their fans really don't have other other teams to ease the pain.
The Bartman Game
Cubs fans have been suffering for one hundred years. That's about four generations worth of fans.
If you haven't noticed, I have emphasized the pain that fans of these teams endure a lot in this slideshow.
Now imagine you're one of those long-suffering fans, and you score great tickets to a home game that would send your team to the World Series for the first time in 57 years.
Its Game 6 of the NLCS, with your best pitcher on the mound, and what you think is an insurmountable 3-2 series lead.
You're young stud pitcher is cruising, entering the eigth inning with a 3-0 lead. The anticipation is building. You're six outs away from the World Series.
First batter flies out to left. 5 outs away, the anticipation builds. You're completely engulfed in the moment. HOPE!
Second batter hits a double. Not too bad, Prior will get out of it you think.
Your eyes are glued to Prior as he starts his motion towards home plate. He pitches.
The batter makes contact. Your eyes track the ball as it rises up behind third base and... its coming towards you!
Your eyes are completely focused on the baseball as its coming toward you, drowning out everything else. You might catch a foul ball, a souvenir from one of the biggest games in Cubs history.
You stick your hands so you can catch the ball, instead of the three other fans who are also going for it.
Your hands make contact with the ball, and at the same time, out of nowhere, a glove hits your hand from below.
As the ball drops to the ground, you snap out of that zone you were just in, and you suddenly realize what you've done.
I'm going to channel my inner Robin Williams and if you're out there Steve Bartman, all I have to say is.
It's not your fault.
It's not your fault.
It's not your fault.