The Best and Worst Curses in Sports

Colin Sylvester@@ColinSylvesterContributor IIIMay 4, 2014

The Best and Worst Curses in Sports

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    Last night Kevin Durant and the Thunder snuck by the pesky Memphis Grizzlies and into the second round of the NBA playoffs.

    That doesn’t mean KD isn’t still suffering from one of sport’s greatest pastimes: A Curse.

    But how does one measure a curse? What is the litmus test for its legitimacy?

    In science, there’s Mythbusters. In Hollywood, there’s Dan Aykroyd walking around in a space suit busting ghosts.

    Sports must have a solution. 

    Thus, I give you CurseBusters. Rooted in empirical evidence but mostly personal opinion, 10 of the greatest curses in sports will be put to the test. 

    The Best will survive and live on to haunt players and fans alike, and the Worst will once and for all be busted. 

    The man pictured above may disagree….in all caps of course. 

The Curse of Billy Penn

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    Until 1987, the statue of Billy Penn atop City Hall in Philadelphia was the city’s highest point.

    After One Liberty Place was completed and stood over 400 feet taller than Mr. Penn, the Flyers lost the Stanley Cup twice, the Phillies lost the World Series, the 76ers lost the NBA Finals and the Eagles lost in the Super Bowl all in a span of 20 years.

    When the Comcast Center became the highest point in 2007, workers tried to break the curse by attaching a William Penn figurine to the top.

    The Phillies won the World Series the next year.

    Wait...the next year!?!


    Curse: Confirmed.

The Curse of Bobby Lane

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    Contrary to popular belief, the Detroit Lions weren’t just born bad.

    They’re cursed. 

    The Lions traded quarterback Bobby Lane to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958 in spite of the fact that they had won the Super Bowl three out of the last five years.

    Upon exiting, Lane vowed Detroit wouldn’t win another for 50 years. 

    He was right, and the team went 0 – 16 the 50th year after the trade. 

    Here’s some advice for the Detroit front office: Hold on to Reggie Bush. Hold on to Calvin Johnson. Hold on to Matt Stafford...and his fiancée. Wow.


    Curse: Confirmed.

The Curse of Coogan's Bluff

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    In 1957, the New York Giants went west to become the San Francisco Giants and disgruntled fans hexed the franchise, saying they would never win a World Series on the west coast.

    For 53 years, even Mother Nature sided with New York as two of the three World Series in San Fran (1962 and 1989) were delayed for days by weather.

    But the cursing and complaining must stop. The Giants finally won a title—two in a span of three years in fact. 

    Don’t get too greedy guys.


    Curse: Busted!

The Andretti Curse

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    This curse has been passed down from generation to generation in the Andretti family, possibly racing’s most illustrious lineage.

    After Mario Andretti won the Indianapolis 500 in 1969, he nor anyone related to him including brothers and sons have been able to repeat the feat. 

    He even joined up with Paul Newman, creator of all things healthy and sustainable, to break the curse. What more can a man do?

    My advice? Reincarnate as Jimmy Johnson.



    Curse: Confirmed.

The Sports Illustrated Cover Curse

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    I get it.

    A lot of players and teams on the Sports Illustrated cover have performed poorly and come across misfortune after appearing on the cover.

    If anyone in the world were a certified curse-buster though, it’s Michael Jordan.

    He appeared on the Sports Illustrated cover a record 49 times and I believe he’s doing all right in spite of the Charlotte Bobcats’ outside shooting woes this year.

    Dan Aykroyd busts ghosts. Michael Jordan busts curses. Case closed.



    Curse: Busted! 

The Billy Goat Curse

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    Perhaps the most infamous curse in sports, the Billy Goat Curse began in 1945 when Chicago Cubs fan William Sianis brought his goat to Game 4 of the World Series.

    He was kicked out and furiously claimed the Cubs would never win the World Series.

    He’s right so far. More importantly though, how did a fan hide the goat for seven innings before being found out!? Were goats common patrons at Cubs games in 1945?

    Are they still?

    Maybe this is the root problem for the Chicago franchise that must be solved before the team can win championships. 

    Until then, I’d be fearful of the bleachers at Wrigley Field too, Moises Alou.


    Curse: Confirmed.

The Curse of the Great Bambino

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    This is the mother of all curses, and where better for a curse to start than Boston and New York?

    When the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, it began 83 years of heartbreak for the Boston club, including the error by Bill Buckner seen above.

    For the better part of the past decade though, the Red Sox have bounced the curse. As if they needed any additional help, they all grew curse-busting beards that appear almost as effective as Michael Jordan when it comes to that sort of thing. 

    For all your curse-busting needs, I recommend Michael Jordan with a long, gruffy beard. Just add water.


    Curse: Busted! 

The Bartman Sub-Curse

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    Yep. A curse within a curse.

    Thanks to Steve Bartman, the Chicago Cubs are the first franchise to go Inception on a curse.

    I’m not sure what the man was dreaming up when he sat listening to his headset that fateful night, but you have to pity him just a bit. That sort of play happens in baseball all the time.

    There were plenty of other chances for the Cubs to close out the game by making any number of other normal baseball plays. 

    Bad bounces, tough calls, superstition. That’s just baseball. 

    And there’s no crying in baseball.


    Curse: Busted!

The Madden Cover Curse

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    Even players are spooked by the Madden Curse, as seen by LaDainian Tomlinson declining the cover gig in 2008.

    However, the following year featured Brett Favre who went on to have arguably his best season ever with the Vikings in 2009. 

    Granted, it may have been the Real. Comfortable. Jeans. that gave him the space and ease to succeed, but curse-busting is curse-busting, regardless of your remedy.

    Furthermore, the 2013 cover featured Adam Schefter, and he still has perfect hair.


    Curse: Busted! 

The Based God Curse (aka Lil B Feat. Kevin Durant)

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    Well, this is the moment you’ve all been waiting for.

    Remember the heckler in Happy Gilmore?

    That’s Lil B, only Kevin Durant hasn’t overcome a crocodile eating his coach’s arms off to win a title...yet.

    This could be the year though. KD has put on an MVP-worthy performance all year and his East Coast counterpart would love nothing more than to take him one-on-one in the finale of the year. 

    I’m talking about his one-on-one game against Lil B of course. As soon as this playoff silliness is over, let’s get down to the real business and see who wins.

    This is only a curse until KD busts Lil B on the low post and then drops threes over his head all day long. 


    Curse: Busted!


    Until then, YOU can count on ME meeting YOU in the parking lot (of the comments section below) to discuss any opinions you may have regarding these so called curses.


    Just leave the Billy Goat at home please.