Best of 2010: Greatest Moments From 8 American Sports Last Year
What a year. What a year. America was blessed with some great sports moments in 2010, tons in every sport. We were spoiled.
From perfect games, to fantastic goals, to great rivalries in the playoffs of several sports, American sports were a cause for celebration in 2010.
As we go into the new year, I wanted to take a look back at what, in my own opinion, are eight of the greatest moments from the year. I chose one from each of eight sports, pro and college and ranked them on how I feel they should be ranked.
These are what I think are the best and will be a cause for debate. I urge you all to share your favorite moments in sports this year in the comments.
8) NBA: Lakers Hold Off Celtics In The Finals
For the second time in three years, the NBA's greatest rivalry determined the champion. The Lakers and Celtics, the league's two greatest, most storied teams, who also hate each other more than any other two teams played a great series, won by the Celtics, in 2008. The Lakers took 2010.
It was not easy by any means however. It began in the regular season when the two teams split, the Lakers winning 90-89 in Boston and the Celtics won 87-86 in Los Angeles.
The series went back and forth. Lakers took games 1 and 3, Celtics took 2, 4, and 5 to get a 3-2 lead. The Lakers had to earn it. They had their backs against the wall and overwhelmed the C's in Game 6 before holding off the feisty men in green in the seventh game to win yet another championship.
7) College Football: Nevada Beats Boise State
Boise State this and Boise State that. Nevada was sick of it and took matters into their own hand.
Around Thanksgiving, Boise State was still silently considered an outside contender for the national championship game. That is, until they made the trip south to rival Nevada.
This game is the top college football moment of 2010 in my eyes not only because it was Boise doing something Boise doesn't normally do, lose, but the way they choked in such an important situation.
Nevada was the most challenging opponent for Boise all season. Virginia Tech didn't even put the Broncos against the wall like that. At 31-31 in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, Boise kicker Kyle Brotzman botched a chip-shot field goal that would have won the game and kept a perfect record, but the game went to overtime. Again, Brotzman missed a simple one, setting up a game-winning kick by the Wolfpack and an on-field celebration that lasted for quite some time.
6) Womens College Basketball: UConn Surpasses UCLA Mens Mark Of 88 Straight Wins
I don't care what anybody says about woman's basketball not being legitimate, winning 90 times in a row in anything is incredible.
UConn beat #20 Florida State on December 21st to surpass John Wooden's UCLA Bruins men's record of 88 straight wins from 1971-1974, setting the Division I record for the longest basketball winning streak.
People can say UConn didn't do anything to get this, but they played about a third of the time against Top 25 teams, many fringe teams, and many of the Top 25 they played were Top 10, with big wins over Stanford, Duke, Baylor, Oklahoma, etc.
UConn dominated their opponents, even the likes of Baylor and Stanford (who ended the streak on December 30th), with an average margin of victory of 33.4 points. They trailed 4% of the time. They won two national championships. Maya Moore dominated the game as the best player arguably of all time. She will be undoubtedly if she wins national championship number three as well as her third Wade Trophy.
It hasn't been solely the Maya Moore show over the course of this run of greatness. Tina Charles, Renee Montgomery, Caroline Doty, and many others have been crucial to the team's success.
It also helps to have the greatest coach in the game, Geno Auriemma. The genius is a main reason why the best high school players choose UConn.
Another part of UConn's success, us fans. Whether its going to be a 30-point blowout or an intense nail-biter, the loyal fans of Connecticut basketball, undoubtedly among the best in the nation, are always there.
The streaks of UConn and UCLA are hard to compare, men to women, 70s to 2000s. They stand on their own and are both unreal. No one will ever reach 88 or 90 again.
5) College Basketball: Butler Beats Michigan State In The Final Four
Finally, after years of mid-majors epitomizing the term "March Madness" a mid-major made the National Championship Game. The Butler Bulldogs became the second mid-major to reach the Final Four since 2006 and knocked off 2009 runner-up Michigan State to set up a date with Duke.
Something that makes the trip to the final even more special is that the Final Four was in Indianapolis, the home of Butler University. It was only fitting that Butler make history in front of the home crowd.
Though they did not win the championship, they missed a shot at the buzzer against Duke in the final, they gave hope to mid-majors everywhere. They proved that you don't have to be a powerhouse from a big conference to play for the title. In the same year where Cornell and Northern Iowa made runs into the Sweet Sixteen and beyond, Butler got to the national title game from the same side of the bracket as Kansas, Kansas State, Georgetown, and Michigan State, no one could have imagined this.
Impossible is nothing. Butler proved it and they are not the only ones. Look at the UConn football team. Everyone has reason to believe.
4) NHL: Flyers Beat Bruins In Game 7 After Being Down 3-0, Series and Game
It tears at my heartstrings to say this is the best moment in the NHL in 2010 but it is. Going down 3-0 in a series is an overwhelmingly improbable hole to climb out of. The last team in any sport to do it was the Red Sox in 2004. This time, Boston was on the wrong end of history.
The Bruins were a favorite to reach the Stanley Cup. They looked like they were going to win it all after the Buffalo series and the first three games against the Flyers, but Philly had different plans.
The Flyers won the next three games, but went down 3-0 in Game 7. Did that stop them? Nope. The Flyers came back to win the game and break the hearts of all New Englanders.
3-0 comebacks happen so rarely. In many years, this would be the best moment. If it was the Stanley Cup Finals, maybe they move up, but we had a wild year of sports and certain moments happened to be a bit better.
3) MLB: Dallas Braden Throws a Perfect Game On Mother's Day
Dallas Braden was raised by his father and grandmother in his late teenage years. His mother died of cancer while he was in high school. Through it all, the left-handed A's pitcher overcame major adversity to reach the big leagues and on Mother's Day in 2010, he pitched his way into the record books.
The 26-year old became the youngest pitcher since 1984 to throw a perfect game. He did so against the reigning AL champions Tampa Bay on the A's home diamond.
There was a lot of things that made this game so interesting.
Most notably is the day it occurred, Mother's Day. Dallas's grandmother Peggy was in attendance. She has been a mother-figure to the youngster ever since his mother passed away. It was an emotional moment after the game. Catcher Landon Powell recalls the moment: "When we first finished the game and celebrated and I saw Dallas hugging his grandmother, I was tearing up...He's had a lot of things happen in his life, even in the last couple of years in the game of baseball, and it couldn't happen to someone who deserves it more."
Powell is another special part of this game. He had only been on the A's for 18 days before the game. He was the backup to Kurt Suzuki and only there because of an injury to Mark Ellis. When Suzuki got hurt, Powell stepped in. He and Braden had gone through the minors together and they knew each other like the back of their hands. Fate?
On a smaller scale, Alex Rodriguez maybe had Braden fired up. The Yankee star got into a vocal war with Braden after running across the mound. Braden yelled at him to get off his mound. A-Rod responded in the media: "He just told me to get off his mound. That was a little surprising. I'd never quite heard that, especially from a guy that has a handful of wins in his career."
I believe in fate and that every thing happens the way it does for a reason. Landon Powell was meant to catch for his longtime friend. Braden was meant to throw the perfect game on Mother's day in memory of his mother. There are no coincidences.
2) NFL: New Orleans Saints Beat The Indianapolis Colts In Super Bowl XLIV
New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina a few years ago. The Louisiana Superdome was nearly destroyed. The Saints, a struggling franchise, had to play home games on the road. Things were not looking good for the city or the Saints, who were at one point rumored to be moving to San Jose.
Drew Brees and Sean Payton helped change everything and in 2009, the Saints were GOOD. They made the playoffs and against all odds beat Brett Favre and the Vikings to win the NFC and advance to the Super Bowl. Who Dat Nation had reason to believe.
"Who dat say they gon' beat them Saints?" The Indianapolis Colts thought they could. They were the best team in the NFL all year, but like the Patriots learned a couple years ago, just because you're the best in the regular season doesn't mean you'll be the best when all is said and done.
With the nation behind them, the Saints came back to within striking distance by halftime after going down early. They shocked everyone with an onside kick to the second half. They got the ball and scored.That onside kick is one of the most surprising and greatest calls in Super Bowl history.
From that point on, it was all Saints. The nail in the Colts' coffin was an interception returned for a touchdown by New Orleans with a couple minutes left.
After all that has happened, it is only fitting that New Orleans get a championship. That city was on the verge of destruction. As the saying goes, "through the darkness, we shall overcome."
The Saints overcame. Super Bowl XLIV will go down as one of the most memorable ever.
1) Soccer: Landon Donovan Stoppage Time Goal Sends USA to World Cup Last 16
This is without a doubt the greatest single moment in sports in 2010.
This was a great game, but the incredible 91st minute goal by American superstar Landon Donovan is what puts this game, and this moment, above all others in American sports in 2010. Whether you like soccer, the real football, or not, you cannot deny this.
With the power of Spain, Germany, and the other perennial powers heading into 2010, no one expected the US to contend for the World Cup title. Well, they didn't, but what they did is beyond what anyone could have believed, they captivated a nation.
When the draw for the Group Stage was announced in December of 2009, an English tabloid ran the following headline for Group C:
Well, the USA tied England in an epic affair that if not for one defensive hiccup, the USA would have won. Then it was on to Slovenia, where the Comeback Kids as they have been described overcame a 2-0 deficit, and won the game, only to have the winning goal called back for "offsides." The only two things that happened on that play were that a Slovenia player was hugging Michael Bradley (should have been a penalty if the ball didn't go in) and Maurice Edu blasted the volley home cleanly. As they did in 2002 and 2006, the USA got screwed.
They went into the Algeria match knowing they needed a win to guarantee progression into the Round of 16, something only done three times by an American team: 1930, 1994, and 2002. Five minutes in, Clint Dempsey scores, but its called back, again, for "offsides." It looked like it would be one of those days.
The Yanks were around the goal all game, but the woodwork was their enemy nine times out of ten.
That one time was pretty sweet.
Second minute of four in stoppage time, Algeria gets off a lousy shot right at Tim Howard, who played the ball up and the US went off to the races. Donovan carried the ball up the pitch, played it to Altidore, who laid it off for Dempsey, just deflected by the Algerian keeper, right to Landon. 1-0.
I will never forget this game or the call by commentator Ian Darke: "AND DONOVAN HAS SCORED! OH CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS! GO GO USA! CERTAINLY THROUGH! OHHHHHH ITS INCREDIBLE! YOU COULD NOT WRITE A SCRIPT LIKE THIS!"
No you cannot. It was a goal that brought Americans to their feet, and many, admittedly myself, to tears of joy. From sea to shining sea, the United States stood as one to celebrate the greatest goal in American history and the greatest American sports moment of 2010.
To me, this video says it all...