My only athletic success growing up occurred in the Summer Basketball League for Camp Nubar, a sleepaway camp for Armenians aged seven through 15. Because the league started when I was 14, I had two years of sheer athletic prime, dropping dimes and raining threes against kids mostly younger than me (there was only one league in which every age played).
In the 2003 quarterfinals, my team (Heat) led the Kings 49-47 with three seconds left in the first overtime period. My teammate inbounded the ball to me, and in an effort to kill the clock, I jumped as high in the air as I could, hoping time would run out.
Unfortunately my vertical is as high as a dollar stack of quarters, so I was called for an up-and-down. I wish this was a joke. I've always been somewhat of an unrealistic idealist.
On the following play, the Kings' best player made a fallaway 18-footer to send the game into the second overtime.
Once there, my team fell into a big hole, but I hit two three-pointers to bring us within two points. We got the ball back down 58-56, and needed a two to tie and a three to win. I went for the contested three.
If the rim was as big as, say, a ground-up pool, it would have went in.
What's the point? I still remember the pain, and it still hurts that my one chance at hitting a buzzer-beating shot in a game with at least some meaning fell hopelessly flat, and yet I'm the only person today that cares or remembers about this game.
Bill Buckner isn't that lucky. Steve Bartman isn't that lucky. Cleveland fans who live through torture on a sickening cyclical basis certainly aren't that lucky.
Seeing The Drive or The Tuck Rule on television will never encapsulate that emotional hurt fans and goats feel.
Because I lived through a lifetime of anonymous athletic pain, it's now time to count down the 30 most painful sports losses in major American team sports history (pro and college football, pro and college basketball, baseball, and hockey) in the last 30 years.
The first 25 games are in chronological order in the calendar year they happened, followed by the top five most painful games counting down from five to one.
Why 30 years? It takes into account three whole decades, and I have to make a cutoff somewhere. Plus, do I really have any credibility talking about the Red Sox's two losses to the Yankees at the end of the 1949 season?
No, the 1980's will be hard enough.