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The 101 Most Iconic Photographs in Sports History

Michael AkelsonCorrespondent IAugust 19, 2011

The 101 Most Iconic Photographs in Sports History

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    They say photographs are for people with bad memory.

    That couldn't be further from the truth. What they're really for is to help people with good memory remember.

    Whoever said a picture is worth a thousand words wasn't lying.

    When we see an iconic photograph, our brain instantly starts to process it, we start to remember where it's from and why it's so special.

    That's why I'll take a great picture of a historic event over a video every time.

    It gives you the chance to recall what the moment meant to you and how you heard about it.

    Prepare for a trip down memory lane because I'm about to give you a tour through the history of sports in pictures.

    So, get ready to remember what 101 of the most unforgettable moments in sports mean to you.

Criteria

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    Here's what I was looking for when trying to rank and find these images:

     

    What Is An Iconic Picture?

     My basic thinking when it came to finding pictures that I would consider "iconic" was: If somebody told me I had to make a montage profiling the history of sports, and defining why they're so special using no words, what pictures would I use?

     

    Ground Rules

    No Magazine, Newspaper Covers or Photoshops: Sorry for those of you hoping to see your favorite Sports Illustrated covers, but that's not really what this list is about.

    Foreign Pictures Were Included, but the List is American-Sports Dominated: Let me just get one thing out of the way, I'm American. Most of my audience will most likely be American. I tried to include pictures from foreign sports where I could, but this list will be, for the most part, American-sports dominated.

    Sorry, but it's just the truth.    

     

    How They Were Ranked

    The Moment: The moment means everything in sports. Super Bowl III was an iconic moment. Michael Jordan's series-winner in the 1998 NBA Finals was an iconic moment.

    Pictures that came from iconic moments were ranked higher than those which came from less iconic moments.

    The "How Often Do You See It" Factor: For lack of better wording, the "how often do you see it" factor is exactly what it says it is.

    Pictures that are seen almost religiously on the Internet and on TV are considered more iconic than those that aren't.

    The Career-Definer Factor: Sometimes a picture can define an athlete's career. It can say what we most remember them for.

    Kirk Gibson's home run in the 1988 World Series was a career-definer. Willis Reed's limp out onto the court in the 1970 NBA Finals was a career-definer.

    Some athletes have more than one career-defining image, which brings me to my next point...

    No Limit of Pictures Per Athlete: My goal here was to list what are in my opinion the 101 most iconic photographs in sports history. If 80 of them turn out to be Jordan or Ali, then so be it.

     

    Final Note

     Folks, I've written a whole lot of lists ranking the best-of in certain categories, and I must say, I've never had a harder time trying to rank something as I did with this one. So if you're going to comment on the order, just remember you can't move anything up without moving something down. 

Honorable Mentions

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    Tom Brady Tucks It: Who could ever forget the night that changed the NFL forever? If Tom Brady held his arm up an inch higher, he might not even be in the league any more.

    The Mick's Bad Day (Pictured): Probably the most iconic Mickey Mantle picture we have, just a fantastic shot.

    Paul O'Neill Walks to the Dugout as Yankee Stadium Chants His Name: Getting a standing ovation in Yankee stadium is a historic accomplishment. Getting the entire stadium to chant your name in harmony is a damn miracle.

    But that's exactly what O'Neill got in the ninth inning of his last game in Yankee Stadium. The look on his face told a story in itself, but it's his back that will be forever immortalized in this image.

    Randy Moss Pulls the Moon: Twenty years from now, Moss will be known just as well for his uninspired attitude and cocky demeanor as he will for his sensational touchdown grabs. 

    No picture will remind us more of the way Moss was than this one of him fake-pulling the moon on the Green Bay Packer fans at Lambeau Field.

101. Roger Clemens Plays Darts with Mike Piazza

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    When It Was Taken: Game 2 of the 2000 World Series.

    Why It's Iconic: This will be talked about for the next 100 years every time the Mets and Yankees meet. 

    It's hard to forget something like this, we'll probably never see somebody stupid enough to throw a shattered bat in another player's direction again.   

100. Super Bowl XLV Celebration

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    When It Was Taken: After Super Bowl XLV.

    Why It's Iconic: Maybe I jumped the gun on this one a bit, but to be honest, I don't see this going in any direction but up.

    It's all about the championship belt here, it just makes the picture that much more memorable, it's something new, and it's exclusive to Aaron Rodgers.

    Plus, we're sure to hear about the Rodgers vs. Brett Favre feud every time there's a QB controversy for the next three decades, and this picture of Rodgers' redemption will be at the center of that. 

99. Diego Maradona Takes on 6 Defenders

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    When It Was Taken: 1982 World Cup

    Why It's Iconic: The second most iconic Maradona picture (I think we all know what's first). 

    This famous shot features six Belgium defenders all attempting to stop Maradona at the same time, he was that good.

98. The World's Shortest Baseball Player

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    When It Was Taken: Aug. 19, 1951

    Why It's Iconic: Standing at 3'7", Eddie Gaedel is officially the shortest player to ever register an MLB plate appearance.

    Gaedel walked on four pitches in his only plate appearance and was then pinch run for. 

    His uniform No. 1/8, is immortalized in the baseball Hall of Fame.   

97. T.O. Celebrates on the Dallas Star

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    When It Was Taken: Sept. 24, 2000

    Why It's Iconic: Terrell Owens' midfield celebration on the Dallas Cowboys logo is perhaps the most iconic TD celebration in NFL history.

    It was when T.O. really established himself as the poster child for diva wide receivers.  

96. Pedro Martinez Tosses Don Zimmer

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    When It Was Taken: Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS.

    Why It's Iconic: Every time I see this picture, all I can think about is how good the New York Yankee vs. Boston Red Sox rivalry was. This was the feud at its peak, these teams really hated each other.

    When a 72-year-old man charges a physically fit pitcher four decades his junior with intent to fight over a baseball game, you know there's something much bigger on the line.

    Every time these two teams met, especially in the playoffs, it was about pride. 

95. Patrick Ewing Embraces the Fans

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    When It Was Taken: After the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals.

    Why It's Iconic: Back in the mid-1990s, New York was the mecca of basketball. But they hadn't been to the NBA Finals in 21 years.

    In 1994, they got their golden opportunity when Michael Jordan left to play baseball.

    In the conference finals they went head to head with the Indiana Pacers, and they got the battle of their lives.

    In Game 7, Ewing scored 24 points, grabbed 22 rebounds, dished out seven assists, turned back five shots and threw down the series-deciding put-back dunk.

    Then he did something he had waited his entire career to do—embrace the fans at the Garden.  

94. A Boise State Proposal

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    When It Was Taken: After the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

    Why It's Iconic: The 2007 Fiesta Bowl wasn't supposed to be close. Oklahoma was supposed to wipe the floor with Boise State.

    It turned out to be one of the greatest college football games of all-time.

    The game went into overtime after Boise State tied the game on an unforgettable hook and lateral play.

    Oklahoma got the ball first in overtime and scored. The Broncos then struck back with a TD of their own, but realizing that taking chances was the only reason they were still in the game, they opted for a two-point conversion.

    They converted on a play that hadn't been seen in pro or college football since the mid-1970s, the Statue of Liberty, and they won the game in epic fashion.

    Then Ian Johnson, who had scored the decisive two-point conversion, continued the trend of taking chances when he proposed to his girlfriend following the play.

93. Mark Cuban, the Champion

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    When It Was Taken: After the 2011 NBA Finals.

    Why It's Iconic: I don't think we'll ever forget this epic photo of Cuban.

    It kind of makes you wonder who took the picture and what exactly they were doing with Cuban in the bathroom.

92. George W. Bush Throws out the First Pitch at the 2001 World Series

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    When It Was Taken: Game 3 of the 2001 World Series.

    Why It's Iconic: People are always quick to criticize George W. Bush, but he did do some things right.

    When he took the mound just a month and a half after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium in the World Series, the entire stadium was cheering, American flags were waving from behind the dugout to the cheap seats and there wasn't a soul in the ballpark saying anything but "U-S-A."

    The fact that he was taking an interest in the people and throwing the pitch was enough, but when he threw a strike, it made the moment that much more memorable.

91. Justin Timberlake Will Have You Naked by the End of This Song

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    When It Was Taken: Super Bowl XXXVIII Halftime Show

    Why It's Iconic: In perhaps the most memorable halftime show in sports history, Justin Timberlake performed his hit song "Rock Your Body" with Janet Jackson.

    The last line in the song was, "‘Bet I’ll have you naked by the end of this song."

    As he said that, Timberlake pulled off part of Jackson's costume revealing her right breast.

    Was it planned? Timberlake and Jackson claim the plan was to reveal only her bra, but who really knows.

    Timberlake's popularity soared after the incident, while Jackson's sort of fell off a cliff. 

90. Björn Borg Drops to His Knees

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    When It Was Taken: After the 1978 Wimbledon Men's Single Championship.

    Why It's Iconic: After winning his third straight Wimbledon in 1978 over Jimmy Connors, Borg dropped to his knees and had one of the defining moments of his career.

89. Brett Favre on the Second Play of Super Bowl XXXI

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    When It Was Taken: Super Bowl XXXI

    Why It's Iconic: A decade from now, pessimists everywhere will remember Brett Favre as a selfish, indecisive interception machine.

    However, us optimists will remember the good Favre.

    The one that played for the Packers from 1992-2007, the one who played with just a tad more passion than every one of his adversaries, the one who took chances down the field and became known as the poster boy for the gunslinger.

    For those who will remember Favre as he was at his best, will there be a play in his career that comes to mind more quickly than his 54-yard TD pass to Andre Rison on the second offensive play for the Packers in Super Bowl XXXI?

    And will there be a moment that more reminds us of what made him so different than when he ran across the field jumping with his helmet in hand?

88. Jason McElwain's Big Day

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    When It Was Taken: February 15, 2006

    Why It's Iconic: Jason McElwain was diagnosed with autism at a very young age and was placed in Special Education classes at his Rochester, N.Y. school district.

    By the time he reached high school, McElwain had developed a passion for basketball, introduced to the game by his brother Josh.

    He was appointed manager of the school basketball team, but was never given he opportunity to play or even dress for a game.

    For the last game of his senior season, coach Jim Johnson decided to put McElwain on the official roster just so he could get a jersey, he had no intention to play Jason unless there was a blowout.

    Fortunately, that's exactly what happened.

    He checked into the game with about four minutes left and quickly was given passes from his teammates. He first missed a three-pointer and then a layup.

    But that was fine, nobody expected anything more.

    He then proceeded to drain seven straight shots, including six three-pointers and was carried off the court.

    This is his legend.

87. Jason Varitek vs. Alex Rodriguez

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    When It Was Taken: July 24, 2004

    Why It's Iconic: This A-Rod vs. Jason Varitek mini-brawl photo has become the new image of the New York Yankee vs. Boston Red Sox rivalry.

    It's all over the web.

86. "The Dunk"

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    When It Was Taken: Game 2 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals.

    Why It's Iconic: Known today simply as "The Dunk," John Starks' epic slam over Michael Jordan and Horace Grant put Game 2 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals on ice for the Knicks.

    It is forever remembered as the defining moment in Starks' career and in the New York Knicks vs. Chicago Bulls rivalry. 

85. Buster Douglas Knocks out Mike Tyson

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    When It Was Taken: February 11, 1990

    Why It's Iconic: Buster Douglas was a 42:1 underdog when he met Mike Tyson in this 1990 fight which was supposed to be nothing more than a tune-up for Iron Mike.

    But in one of boxing's all-time greatest upsets, Douglas, whose mother had passed away just 23 days before the fight, handed Tyson the first defeat of his career.

    This was the boiling point for Tyson who could never seem to get his head on straight following the fight.

84. Shaq and Kobe Are Finally Getting Along

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    When It Was Taken: Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals.

    Why It's Iconic: When the Portland Trail Blazers had a 15-point lead over the Lakers early in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, it was looking like the Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant pairing would just be another example of two star players not being able to coexist.

    Then the Lakers went on a 25-4 rally which culminated with Kobe throwing up an alley-oop to Shaq that he could have just as easily scored himself.

    Next, Shaq ran down the court with his mouth agape and both index fingers in the air and every NBA player was thinking the same thing, "We're in big trouble." 

83. J.T. Snow Saves Darren Baker

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    When It Was Taken: Game 5 of the 2002 World Series.

    Why It's Iconic: In the Giants 2002 run to the World Series, Dusty Baker's three-year-old son Darren acted as the team's mascot and occasional bat boy.

    Which was fine until he ran out onto the field in the middle of a play. Luckily, J.T Snow happened to be crossing home plate at the time and he scooped up the fumble and carried it back to the dugout.

    This photo now hangs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

82. Reggie Miller's Choke Gesture

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    When It Was Taken: Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals.

    Why It's Iconic: Reggie Miller had plenty of unforgettable moments against the Knicks, but we generally remember the epic New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers battles of the '90s by one picture—the Reggie Miller choke.

    In Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, Miller and his Pacers were behind going into the fourth quarter and the Knicks' No. 1 fan, Spike Lee, had been in Miller's ear about it all day.

    Miller then proceeded to score 25 points in the fourth quarter to almost single-handedly beat the Knicks, and in the midst of it all he gave Spike this choke gesture to let the entire Garden know what it was that set him off.

81. Lance Armstrong Holds Up 7 Fingers

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    When It Was Taken: Before the 21st Stage of the 2005 Tour de France.

    Why It's Iconic: Just before the final stage of the 2005 Tour de France, Lance Armstrong had already begun to celebrate his unprecedented seventh consecutive win.

    One of sports all-time feel-good moments.

80. Two-Sport Bo Jackson

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    When It Was Taken: 1988

    Why It's Iconic: There was a time where there wasn't a bigger athlete in the world than Bo Jackson.

    Jackson was a physical specimen and an all-star in two sports. Which, of course, made him a perfect poster boy for Nike.

    And this poster? One of Nike's all-time best. 

79. Usain Bolt Celebrates

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    When It Was Taken: 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics

    Why It's Iconic: Usain Bolt's legs put on just as much of a show at the 2008 Olympics as his ego.

    His salute after the 4x100-metre relay is the image of his career. 

78. Landon Donovan's Last-Second Miracle

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    When It Was Taken: 2010 World Cup

    Why It's Iconic: The fact that it's a soccer picture and yet just about any American sports fan can identify who the player is and when it was taken makes it iconic alone.

    Plus, Donovan's epic goal against Algeria was one of American sports' most patriotic moments. 

77. Jackie Smith's Dropped Touchdown Pass

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    When It Was Taken: Super Bowl XIII

    Why It's Iconic: In the third quarter of Super Bowl XIII, Jackie Smith dropped a wide-open third-down pass in the end zone that hit him in the chest forcing the Dallas Cowboys to settle for a field goal.

    Dallas lost the game by four points. I don't think I need to go any further.  

76. Joe DiMaggio's Streak

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    When It Was Taken: Unknown.

    Why It's Iconic: This beautiful shot of "The Yankee Clipper" breaking through a "56" banner has become the enduring image of his unbreakable record.  

75. Charlie Hustle

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    When It Was Taken: Unknown.

    Why It's Iconic: Say what you will about Pete Rose, but few people played baseball with more effort and passion.

    He was always willing to throw his body around and no picture represents that better than this one of him literally diving with no helmet on.

74. The Munich Massacre

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    When It Was Taken: 1972 Munich Summer Olympics

    Why It's Iconic: The Munich Massacre was one of the saddest moments in the history of our nation.

    This infamous picture features one of the Black September terrorist group members looking over the balcony of the Israeli team quarters at Building 31 of the Munich Olympic village.

73. Derek Jeter Takes a Dive

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    When It Was Taken: July 1, 2004

    Why It's Iconic: The New York Yankee vs. Boston Red Sox rivalry was at it's absolute peak in 2004. Every game was must-see TV and all players involved seemed more into it than ever.

    But nobody on either team was willing to go further for the win than Derek Jeter.

    In the 12th inning of a July Yankee vs. Red Sox game, with runners on second and third, Jeter dove head-first into the stands in order to catch a Trot Nixon pop-up.

    He came out of the stands bloody and bruised, but he'll still tell you to this day that it was worth it.

72. Mike Tyson Takes a Bite out of Evander Holyfield

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    When It Was Taken: June 28, 1997

    Why It's Iconic: This was the peak of crazy Mike Tyson, taking a bite out of Evander Holyfield's ear and dislodging a one-inch piece of cartilage.

    It's also one of boxing's most iconic moments, for better or worse. 

71. Aaron Boone's Walk Off

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    When It Was Taken: Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

    Why It's Iconic: Aaron Boone's walk-off series-winning home run off Tim Wakefield in the 2003 ALCS was one of the decade's defining sports moments.

    It was also the event that truly made us believe the Curse of the Bambino was real. 

70. Santonio Holmes' Super Bowl Grab

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    When It Was Taken: Super Bowl XVIII

    Why It's Iconic: Holmes' game-winning, tip-toe grab in Super Bowl XVIII earned him MVP honors, and more importantly, a spot on this list. 

69. The New Home Run King

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    When It Was Taken: August 8, 2007

    Why It's Iconic: Even if you hate the very ground Barry Bonds walks on, you can't deny that his shattering of the home run record was a historic achievement.

    He may have played dirty to get there, but the moment he launched home run No. 756, everybody forgot that for a second.

    Bonds knew it was gone right off the bat and he quickly dropped his bat and threw his hands in the air like a prize fighter.

    An unforgettable moment no matter which way you look at it.

68. Mike Piazza's Post-9/11 Bomb

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    When It Was Taken: September 21, 2001

    Why It's Iconic: Ask 100 different New Yorkers what they most remember about 9/11 and you'll probably get 100 different answers.

    What I remember most vividly is what happened 10 days later.

    Every channel on television was talking about 9/11. Just about everybody, baseball fan or not, needed to get away.

    For many of us, the Mets game on September 21, 2001 was that escape.

    The Braves were visiting the Mets in the first game played in New York since the terrorist attacks. The Mets trailed 2-1 in the eighth inning when Mike Piazza came to the plate.

    Piazza unloaded on a Steve Karsay pitch and gave the Mets the lead, and just for that one second we all forgot what was going on. It felt like it took Piazza an hour to round the bases, in fact, it felt like closer to two.

    If anybody else on the Mets that year had hit it, it wouldn't have mattered as much. But at that time, Piazza was the Mets, he was their Derek Jeter.

    And when he finally finished rounding the bases and he embraced the fans, strangers were hugging each other in the streets.

     

67. Muhammad Ali Lights the Olympic Torch

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    When It Was Taken: 1996 Olympics Opening Ceremony

    Why It's Iconic: One could easily make the argument that Muhammad Ali was the most iconic athlete of all-time.

    His unmatched swagger and confidence made him so much more famous than any athlete on the planet in his day.

    After being diagnosed with Parkinson's syndrome in 1984, Ali generally kept a low profile.

    So when it turned out that he was the one lighting the cauldron at the 1996 Olympics, it became one of the feel-good moments in sports.

    He may not have been able to be a fighter anymore, but Ali still had a fighter's spirit.  

66. That's a Technical Foul!

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    When It Was Taken: 1993 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game

    Why It's Iconic: The Fab Five are remembered for a lot, but one image they'll never be able to shake is this one of Chris Webber calling a panic timeout with 11 seconds remaining despite Michigan being out of time outs.

    This resulted in a technical foul, a loss for Michigan and may or may not have inspired a song in Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights

65. Michael Phelps by a Fingernail

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    When It Was Taken: 2008 Olympic Men's 100-meter butterfly.

    Why It's Iconic: Every stroke taken by Michael Phelps in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics was thrilling, but it was his last gasp in the 100-meter butterfly that we'll all remember.

    Phelps trailed Serbia's Milorad Cavic the whole way, and as both swimmers approached the wall it appeared as if he didn't stand a chance.

    But he threw his arms at the wall with all he had and beat Cavic by one-hundreth of a second.

    Phelps won his seventh gold medal in the most thrilling finish in swimming history.  

64. The Blocked Punt for Hurricane Katrina

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    When It Was Taken: September 25, 2006

    Why It's Iconic: After Hurricane Katrina forced the Saints to spend all of 2005 away from New Orleans, some wondered if they'd ever play in New Orleans again.

    But they returned just a year later in 2006 to host the Atlanta Falcons.

    The entire stadium was overcome with emotion, nobody was beating the Saints that night. Not the '85 Bears, not the '67 Packers. Nobody.

    On the fourth play of the game, Saints safety Steve Gleason blocked a punt and DB Curtis Deloatch fell on it for the first touchdown of the game.

    That was the moment where it became clear that New Orleans football was here to stay.  

63. Don't Mess with Texas!

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    When It Was Taken: August 4, 1993

    Why It's Iconic: Poor Robin Ventura thought he had himself a brawl that was a sure win when he charged the mound after being hit by 46-year-old Nolan Ryan.

    Unfortunately for 26-year-old Ventura, he became a casualty of one of sports most embarrassing moments as Ryan taught him a lesson.  

62. Magic Johnson's Baby-Skyhook

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    When It Was Taken: Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals.

    Why It's Iconic: In arguably the most unforgettable moment of the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics rivalry, Magic Johnson scored on a running baby-skyhook (a clear ode to teammate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) to win Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals and give the Lakers a three-games-to-one lead in the series.

    LA would go on to win the series and Magic would solidify himself as one of the 10 greatest players in NBA history.

61. Derek Jeter's Flip Play

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    When It Was Taken: Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS.

    Why It's Iconic: With the Yankees on the brink of playoff elimination for the first time since 1997, they needed a miracle to turn a two-games-to-none deficit to Oakland around.

    And they got it.

    With the Yankees holding a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh, Terrence Long stepped to the plate for the A's with Jeremy Giambi on first.

    Long hit a line drive into the right-field corner, with Giambi rounding third, Yankees right-fielder Shane Spencer fired a wild throw out of the reach of both cut-off men. The ball was sure to skip right beside Jorge Posada and not only allow Giambi to score, but also put Long on third base.

    Yet neither happened because Derek Jeter did something that defied logic.

    Somehow he managed to get all the way across the field in time to scoop up Spencer's throw, flip it to Posada and get the out.

    I still don't know what he was doing there, anybody who played above T-ball knows that he should have been on the opposite side of the field.

    However he did it, it saved the Yankees' season.

60. Jesse Owens Sprinting

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    When It Was Taken: 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics

    Why It's Iconic: This picture of Jesse Owens famously running for equality in the 1936 Olympics is one of two iconic images provided by him at the games.

    We'll see the other later.

59. Joe Torre Is Carried off the Shea Stadium Field

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    When It Was Taken: After the conclusion of the 2000 World Series.

    Why It's Iconic: After the Yankees beat their crosstown rivals in a pretty one-sided World Series to earn their third straight title, Yankee superstars Bernie Williams and Roger Clemens carried manager Joe Torre off the Shea Stadium field in what would be his last championship as a Yankee. 

    This wasn't quite like Lombardi being carried off after Super Bowl II, but it was pretty close. 

58. Brett and Deanna Favre Walk off the Field 1 Day After Tragedy Strikes

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    When It Was Taken: December 22, 2003

    Why It's Iconic: Now we've come to my favorite entry on the list.

    When our grandchildren ask us about Brett Favre's toughness, we won't talk about the season he played with a broken thumb or the NFC Championship Game he played on a fractured ankle.

    Instead, we'll talk about the unforgettable night in 2003 when he went out in front of the entire world on Monday Night Football just a day after the death of his father and played the best game of his career.

    We'll tell them about how he fired four touchdown passes in the first half, about how he went into Oakland an enemy and got a standing ovation from the usually remorseless Raider fans.

    And then we'll show them this photograph of Favre and his wife Deanna walking off the field together, and remind them that there will never be anything like this again.

57. Willis Reed Limps Into the Garden

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    When It Was Taken: Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals.

    Why It's Iconic: Due to a severe thigh injury, Willis Reed missed Game 6 of the 1970 NBA Finals and was considered an extreme long shot to play in Game 7.

    But he knew the Knicks needed him, he knew they couldn't win without him. So he limped out onto the court and was met with the biggest standing ovation in the history of Madison Square Garden.

    He won the tip and scored the Knicks' first two baskets, and although that's all the stat sheet will tell you, his gutsy and inspirational performance was clearly the impetus for the Knicks win.

56. Jackie Robinson Steals Home

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    When It Was Taken: Game 1 of the 1955 World Series.

    Why It's Iconic: Jackie Robinson loved to steal home, he did it six times in the regular season throughout his short MLB career.

    But the one steal that defines his playing career didn't come during the regular season, it came during Game 1 of the 1955 World Series when he beat the tag of Yogi Berra by the skin on his teeth. 

55. Touch 'em All, Joe!

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    When It Was Taken: Game 6 of the 1993 World Series.

    Why It's Iconic: In 1993, Joe Carter became only the second player in baseball history to hit a walk-off home run to win the World Series.

    His three-run shot off Mitch Williams is forever immortalized by this picture of him celebrating and Tom Cheek's call, "Touch 'em all, Joe, you'll never hit a bigger home run in your life."  

54. The Perfect Jump

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    When It Was Taken: 1968 Summer Olympics

    Why It's Iconic: At the 1968 Olympics, Bob Beamon didn't set a record, he took a bat and violently crushed one.

    His record jump was an earth-shattering 29 feet, 2 1/2 inches. His jump that day was not only the first to clear 29 feet, but also the first to clear 28.

    The long jump record had been broken 13 times since 1901. The average increase was 2 1/2 inches, while the biggest increase ever was six inches. Beamon broke the previous record by 21 3/4 inches.

    Beamon's jump was so magical that it inspired its own book by Dick Schaap called The Perfect Jump.

53. The Great One

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    When It Was Taken: 1984 Stanley Cup Finals

    Why It's Iconic: This is the picture that is most often associated with Wayne Gretzky, which means it has an automatic bid onto this list.

52. Y.A Tittle

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    When It Was Taken: September 20, 1964

    Why It's Iconic: Before pretty-boy quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady burst onto the scene, football was all about toughness and grit.

    No photo better exemplifies that than this one of legendary quarterback Y.A Tittle on his knees, bloodied up just after a play in which he threw a pick-six, suffered a concussion AND cracked his sternum.

    And he still finished the season by the way.

    Jay Cutler should hang this up on his wall.

51. Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese

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    When It Was Taken: 1947

    Why It's Iconic: Suspend belief for a second. We live in a world where people with two heads are segregated from the world. They're beyond hated.

    Then, all of a sudden, Brian Cashman signs a player from the Two-Heads league to play second base for the Yankees. 

    The people hate him. They're taunting him, throwing stuff at him and threatening him.

    But then Derek Jeter engages him in conversation, jokes with him and puts his arm around him.

    Most people still hate him, but now people hate him just a little bit less. They're starting to tolerate his presence just a little bit more because their hero tolerates him.

    That's what Pee Wee Reese did for Jackie Robinson. And this is the enduring image of the two men who forever changed the game of baseball. 

50. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson

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    When It Was Taken: Unknown.

    Why It's Iconic: I've never seen a more heated rivalry between two people who never really hated each other than the one between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

    In fact, I don't even think I've ever seen a more heated rivalry between two individual athletes period.

    The Larry vs. Magic rivalry has been well documented, so I don't think I need to get into details.

    This picture of the two fighting for a rebound seems to be the one most often associated with the two, so it's a lock. 

49. Luis Gonzalez Ends the Yankee Dynasty in a Bloop

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    When It Was Taken: Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. 

    Why It's Iconic: It's over. 

    When "Enter Sandman" hit the Bank One Ballpark loudspeakers in the eighth inning of the decisive seventh game of the 2001 World Series, that's what everyone said.

    Mariano Rivera was the best closer in baseball during the regular season, but he was divine in the playoffs. He wouldn't blow a 2-1 lead. He couldn't.

    As if there were any hope for the Diamondbacks, he struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth.

    But in the bottom of the ninth, something happened. This scrappy expansion team from Arizona, who had held up with the Yankees admirably for the whole series, wasn't going down without a fight.

    A series of events led to a game-tying Tony Womack double. A few more and the bases were loaded for slugger Luis Gonzalez.

    Was this really going to happen?

    We got our answer when Gonzalez lofted a bloop single just over the out-stretched arms of Derek Jeter.

    What an end to the greatest World Series ever played.   

48. Mark Messier Ends the Drought

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    When It Was Taken: 1994 Stanley Cup Finals

    Why It's Iconic: Fifty-four years in a city that never sleeps is like 504 years in a city that does.

    It had been 54 long years since the New York Rangers were Stanley Cup champions by the time 1994 rolled around, and damn it that was too long.

    They were tired of losing, so in 1994 they finally put Manhattan out of its misery. 

    Led by charismatic captain Mark Messier, the Rangers took a wild road through the playoffs including a Namath-esque guarantee from Messier and a few clutch goals from Stephane Matteau. 

    And when they won a thrilling Game 7 over the Canucks right in front of the Madison Square Garden crowd, it led to arguably the loudest and most magical championship celebration of all-time.

    Led by Messier, of course. 

47. Wide Right

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    When It Was Taken: Super Bowl XXV

    Why It's Iconic: Poor Scott Norwood.

    With a chance to give the Buffalo Bills their first-ever Super Bowl victory, Norwood shanked a 47-yard field goal that has since come to be known simply as "Wide Right."

    Bills fans still see this picture of Norwood walking off the field with his face buried in his hands in their nightmares. 

    It also doesn't help that this was the first of four consecutive Super Bowl losses for the Bills.

    But hey, it could have been worse. He could have taped over his wedding tape with the game like Ray Barone. 

46. Carlton Fisk Waves It Fair

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    When It Was Taken: Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

    Why It's Iconic: Game 6 of the 1975 World Series was one for the ages.

    With Boston desperately trying to stay alive for one more night and get a shot at breaking the Curse of the Bambino this game was do-or-die for them.

    In the bottom of the 12th, Carlton Fisk stepped to the plate to face Pat Darcy, the eighth Reds pitcher to take the mound that night, and lifted his second pitch down the left-field line.

    As the ball was in the air, Fisk was shown waving his arms to the right like a wacky-waving, inflatable-arm-flailing tubeman trying to coax the ball fair, and that's exactly what happened.

    The ball hit the foul pole and the Red Sox lived to play (and lose) Game 7. 

45. The Flu Game

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    When It Was Taken: Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals.

    Why It's Iconic: Remember the last time you had the flu? How many times did you stand up over the whole three to five day period combined? How many times did you eat anything but crackers and soup?

    Well, I'm just here to tell you about the time that Michael Jordan had the flu, but decided to play anyway. 

    He played 44 minutes that night, scored 38 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out five assists and had three steals.

    Oh yeah, and somewhere in between he nearly fainted in Scottie Pippen's arms. 

    Just another day at the office for MJ.

44. Cal Ripken Jr. Takes a Lap

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    When It Was Taken: September 19, 1998

    Why It's Iconic: When Cal Ripken Jr. shattered Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak, the scene was historic.

    As the top of the fifth inning ended and the game became official, the banner on the B&O warehouse in right field was switched from 2,030 to the record breaking 2,031. 

    All other baseball games were stopped to appreciate this magical moment. The crowd was overflowing with emotion.

    Being the humble guy he is and hoping to get the game back going Ripken gets out of the dugout and gives a curtain call. Then he does it again. And again. And again. He does it eight times. They won't stop cheering.

    Finally, he's convinced by Rafael Palmeiro and Bobby Bonilla to take a lap around the stadium.

    He takes the lap, the umpires are hugging him, the fans are still going, even his opponents have video cameras out are hugging him.

    It was like watching a baseball game played in the brain of Gandhi.

    The game stopped for 22 minutes. What a moment. 

43. Jim Valvano's a Champ

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    When It Was Taken: 1983 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game

    Why It's Iconic: Jimmy V. was one of sports all-time most beloved figures, so when his sixth-seeded NC State team upset Houston to win the NCAA Championship in one of college basketball's greatest games ever, it was a moment for the ages.

    And this picture of Valvano walking off the court with his pointer finger in the air and the net around his neck tells the whole story.

    We love you, Jimmy. 

42. Bill Buckner Keeps His Glove Clean

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    When It Was Taken: Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

    Why It's Iconic: Was the Curse of the Bambino real? 

    As ridiculous as this sounds, sometimes it's tough to argue with.

    After a string of two-out hits brought the Mets back from a deficit, Mookie Wilson stepped to the plate and skipped a routine ground ball to first baseman Bill Buckner.

    But the ball skipped past Buckner's glove and into right field allowing the game-winning run to score and forcing a Game 7, which the Mets would of course go on to win.

    And of course, Buckner's E3 is blamed for the Red Sox's historic collapse.

41. Derek Redmond Finishes with Dad

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    When It Was Taken: 1992 Summer Olympics

    Why It's Iconic: Great Britain sprinter Derek Redmond's career was defined by injuries. 

    After getting off to a great start early in his career he just couldn't keep himself healthy.

    Prior to the 1992 Olympics, he had undergone eight different operations due to injury. 

    In the semifinal of the 400-metre sprint Redmond was doing well through the first 150 metres, but then something in the back of his leg popped.

    Derek fell to the track in pain not only because of his ailing leg, but also because he knew this would be the last race of his career.

    A stretcher was brought out for him, but he waved it back. He had worked too hard to not finish the race. Redmond began to hobble the last 250 metres when his dad broke through security and helped his son finish.

    The two got a standing ovation, and gave us the best father-son moment in sports history.  

40. Lynn Swann's Great Grab

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    When It Was Taken: Super Bowl X

    Why It's Iconic: Lynn Swann's acrobatic grab in Super Bowl X is still widely considered one of the greatest catches in NFL history.

    He made the incredible reception in the midst of tripping and it helped him become the first wide receiver in NFL history to receive Super Bowl MVP honors. 

39. Hail Flutie

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    When It Was Taken: November 23, 1984

    Why It's Iconic: When an exciting back-and-forth game against Miami left Boston College on their own 20-yard line down 45-41 with 28 seconds remaining, their chances at victory were slim.

    Even after three quick plays brought them to the Hurricane's 48-yard line with six seconds they still seemed like a long shot.

    Doug Flutie called the play "55 Flood Tip" which told all receivers to run straight routes to the goal line so they could attempt to tip it into the end zone.

    The Miami defensive backs doubted that Flutie would be able to reach Gerald Phelan in the end zone so they left him open.

    Flutie fired a 63-yard pass from Boston College's 37-yard line to Phelan untouched in the end zone.

    Then Flutie got a ride down the field from one of his offensive lineman.

38. Bartman's Blunder

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    When It Was Taken: Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS.

    Why It's Iconic: With Chicago just five outs away from going to the World Series, Cubs fan Steve Bartman famously reached out in front of Moises Alou and broke up what should have been a routine play.

    Alou was angry, the Cubs fans were booing, but it wasn't that bad, right? Surely everybody would forget about this poor guy after the Cubs finally got those outs, right?

    They never got those outs. They wound up allowing the Marlins to score eight runs that inning and take Game 6. And eventually Game 7.

    Would the Cubs really have made the World Series in 2003 if Bartman hadn't interfered? Probably not. 

    But why don't you try telling that to a Cubs fan? Steve has become sports most famous scapegoat, and it's really a shame. 

37. Kerri Strug for America

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    When It Was Taken: 1996 Summer Olympics

    Why It's Iconic: The year 1996 was the year the Women's U.S. Gymnastics team swore they would bring home gold for the first time. They promised.

    They were so focused that they stayed in a hotel outside of the Olympic village. They wanted this bad.

    Going into the final event, the vault, the U.S. had a commanding lead over Russia. They were so far out in front that some Russian gymnasts had already begun to cry before the vault started.

    But then, the lead started to evaporate like water on a stove when one of U.S.A.'s best, Dominique Moceanu, fell twice leaving the gold medal very much up for grabs.

    It was all up to quiet, 4'9" gymnast Kerri Strug, considered by many, one of the team's weakest links.

    On her first vault she takes an ugly spill and hears her left ankle snap. When her score, 9.162 is posted it seems hope for gold is all but lost.

    Strug tries to psyche herself up for her second vault, but her leg is in agonizing pain. Coach Bela Karyoli approaches her and says, "Kerri, we need you to go one more time. We need you to go one more time for the gold."

    Strug removes the ice pack from her ankle, stands up and says a prayer: "Please, God, help me make this vault. I know I can do it one more time, injured ankle or not."

    She sprints down the runaway on a severely damaged ankle and nails a back handspring onto the vault, then descends into the air.

    Everybody in the gym realizes the pain she'll be in once she lands. But somehow, someway she lands it without stumbling. But she hears another crack in her ankle, so she tucks it behind her and keeps her balance on one-leg to stay in traditional post-performance position.

    After she's stood just long enough to please the judges, she falls to the mat crying and holding her crushed ankle. So her coach scoops her up and carries her around the gym as it erupts to chants of "Kerri, Kerri!"

    She's carried off on a stretcher before her score—9.712 (enough to ensure U.S. victory)—appears on the scoreboard.

    The paramedics are ready to take Kerri to the hospital for X-rays, but she says no. She wants to be with her team. So coach Karyoli carries her toward the podium where her teammates then lift her up to accept their gold medals.

    Strug gets extra points here for actually making us care about gymnastics.  

36. The Greatest of All-Time

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    When It Was Taken: May 1, 1991 

    Why It's Iconic: "Rickey Henderson was the greatest baseball player of all-time."

    At least that's what Rickey will say if you ask him.

    Although his game wasn't just limited to stealing bases, it was definitely his strength.

    Henderson shattered Lou Brock's career stolen base record in just his 12th big league season, and would eventually go on to demolish it.

    This picture of Henderson holding up third base after breaking Brock's record is widely considered one of the best in baseball history. 

35. The Glove Doesn't Fit

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    When It Was Taken: June 15, 1995

    Why It's Iconic: I'm no law expert, and I'd rather not get into my opinion on the O.J. Simpson murder trial here, but I think you all know what this is about.

    It's iconic for all the wrong reasons, but iconic nonetheless.

34. "The Shot"

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    When It Was Taken: Game 5 of the 1989 first-round Eastern Conference Playoffs.

    Why It's Iconic: "The Shot." Enough said. 

33. Bill Mazeroski's Walk-off

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    When It Was Taken: Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.

    Why It's Iconic: Bill Mazeroski's legendary walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series is considered by some the most clutch home run in baseball history.

    It is still the only World Series winning home run in a Game 7 to date (Joe Carter's walk-off came in a Game 6).

    This was a career-making moment for the usually defensive-minded Mazeroski.

32. Bobby Orr Goes Flying

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    When It Was Taken: Game 4 of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals.

    Why It's Iconic: This image of Bobby Orr flying through the air after scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal in overtime with his arms raised in victory is arguably the most iconic and recognized in the history of hockey.

    Why exactly was Orr flying through the air you ask? He had been tripped by St. Louis Blues defenceman Noel Picard.

31. Christian Laettner's Buzzer-Beater

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    When It Was Taken: 1992 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional Final.

    Why It's Iconic: The 1992 East Regional Final of the NCAA Tournament between Duke and Kentucky is widely considered the greatest college basketball game ever played.

    After an unforgettable second half, the game went into overtime.

    Duke trailed Kentucky 103-102 with 2.1 seconds left.

    Duke forward Grant Hill, undefended in-bounding the ball thanks to a poor decision by Kentucky coach Rick Pitino, throws the ball three-quarters of the court to Christian Laettner around the free-throw line.

    Laettner, who didn't miss a shot all game, nails a turn-around jumper to win the game and races down the court in excitement in what is perhaps the most iconic moment in the history of college basketball.  

30. The Band Is on the Field!

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    When It Was Taken: November 20, 1982

    Why It's Iconic: On November 20, 1982, Cal and Stanford met in a game for the ages.

    With Stanford leading Cal 20-19 with just four seconds remaining the game seemed to be all but in the books.

    In what turned out to be one of the most unforgettably bizarre moments in sports history, Stanford wisely opted to squib kick, Cal's Kevin Moen received the ball at the Cal 45 and lateraled after a little bit of scrambling, a few laterals later and all of a sudden Cal found an opening.

    Then, as the camera zoomed out, we realized where the opening was coming from, the Stanford marching band had begun it's march out onto the field believing the game was already over.

    Before you knew it, Cal had just done the impossible and won the game on a last-second kickoff return touchdown.

29. 100 Reasons to Love Wilt Chamberlain

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    When It Was Taken: March 2, 1962

    Why It's Iconic: Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962 is one of the most famous individual game performances in sports history.

    He put on a show that night, and this locker room picture of him holding up a "100" sign remains one of sports most iconic photos.  

28. Jesse Owens Gets Gold at the 1936 Olympics

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    When It Was Taken: 1936 Summer Olympics

    Why It's Iconic: The 1936 Olympics were supposed to be dominated by Hitler's "superior" German Squad, but Jesse Owens had other ideas.

    Owens won four golds that year and proved to the world that Aryans really weren't better than everybody else.

    And thanks to this picture of him standing tall on the podium, we'll never forget about it.

27. A Champion Is Born

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    When It Was Taken: After the 1991 NBA Finals.

    Why It's Iconic: Look at MJ's face there. That's the face of a champion.

    This picture is the only time I've ever seen a guy have the eye of the tiger with his eyes CLOSED. 

    This is when Michael Jordan went from NBA super superstar to God's gift to the league.

    This was his first championship.

26. Brandi Chastain Goes Chippendales Down the Field

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    When It Was Taken: 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup Final

    Why It's Iconic: Women's soccer was never more popular than in 1999 when the USA women's soccer team made a miracle run through the World Cup.

    After a hard-fought match with China in the Final led to a penalty kick shootout, it was clear that somebody would emerge a hero.

    It was Brandi Chastain.

    Chastain scored the game-winning penalty kick and then removed her shirt, dropped to her knees and let out a winning scream in one of the most famous celebrations in sports.

    Did I mention she removed her shirt? What made it bizarre made it unforgettable.

25. John Elway's Helicopter

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    When It Was Taken: Super Bowl XXXII

    Why It's Iconic: Late in the third quarter of Super Bowl XXXII, with the score tied 17-17, Broncos quarterback John Elway sprinted for the first-down marker on a third-and-six from the Packers 12-yard line when he was unable to find a receiver.

    With Packers safety LeRoy Butler about to tackle him, Elway made a leap for the marker and nearly made Butler miss, but Butler got just enough of Elway to send him spinning in mid-air like the rotors of a helicopter.

    Elway got the first down, and his Broncos would go on to win the game.

    When people speak of Elway's toughness and knack for winning, the helicopter play is always the first to be mentioned. 

24. David Tyree's Helmet Grab

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    When It Was Taken: Super Bowl XLII

    Why It's Iconic: Anybody born before the year 2004 should already know why.

23. Roger Bannister's Sub-4-Minute Mile

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    When It Was Taken: May 6, 1954

    Why It's Iconic: It was Roger Bannister's goal—running the first ever sub-four-minute mile. His passion. His obsession.

    He intensified his training and wouldn't let up. People called him crazy, they said it couldn't be done.

    But Bannister proved them wrong. After a few very close calls, he finally ran the epic 3:59.4 mile.

    The look on his face as he crosses the finish line says it all—that's a man determined. 

22. Michael Jordan's Last Laugh

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    When It Was Taken: Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals.

    Why It's Iconic: Forget that two-season stint with Washington. That never happened.

    Michael Jordan's last real season was the 1998 season. The last one before his second retirement.

    And he went out doing the only thing he knew how to do—win.

    His career ended with a strip of Karl Malone, a push-off of Byron Russell and a game-winning jump shot.

    That's how his Bulls career concluded, with a game-winning shot. Could we have asked for more?

21. Golfing on the Moon

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    When It Was Taken: February 5, 1971

    Why It's Iconic: On February 5, 1971, Alan Shepard became the first man to ever hit a golf ball on the moon.

    He hit two balls using a specially made golf club head on the end of his "sampling arm" which he used to pick up rocks.

    One small step for man, one giant step for the game of golf. 

20. The Tiger Woods Fist Pump

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    When It Was Taken: Countless times.

    Why It's Iconic: Is there a celebration that goes more hand-in-hand with an athlete than Tiger Woods and his fist pump?

    I mean, does he ever even try to mix it up a little?

    Maybe he keeps it because it suits his personality perfectly. 

    To paraphrase John C. Reilly in Talladega Nights, "I like to picture my Tiger doin' a fist-pump 'cause it's formal, but at the same time it says, 'I'm here to party.'"

19. Curt Schilling's Bloody Sock

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    When It Was Taken: Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS.

    Why It's Iconic: With his team in the midst of one of the greatest playoff series comebacks in sports history, Curt Schilling decided to take to the mound in Game 6 despite a torn tendon in his right ankle.

    After seven innings of work, this famous photo shows Schilling's sock soaked in blood.

    His sock now hangs in the baseball Hall of Fame.

18. The Hand of God

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    When It Was Taken: Quarterfinal Round of the 1986 FIFA World Cup.

    Why It's Iconic: Diego Maradona's hand-goal that counted against England remains one of soccer's all-time most memorable moments.

    It was one of two goals in a game for the ages for Maradona who single-handedly lifted Argentina over England.  

17. Nelson Mandela Presents the Cup

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    When It Was Taken: 1995 Rugby World Cup Final.

    Why It's Iconic: After spending 27 years in prison for standing up for what he believed in, Nelson Mandela was finally released in 1990.

    Soon after, apartheid in South Africa was finally ended and the 1995 Rugby World Cup became the first sporting event to take place in South Africa since it's end.

    In a touching moment, after South Africa emerged victorious in the Final, Nelson Mandela presented Francois Pienaar with the Webb Ellis Cup.  

16. I Don't Believe What I Just Saw!

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    When It Was Taken: Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

    Why It's Iconic: Kirk Gibson was thought to be a no-go for Game 1 of the World Series with injuries to both legs.

    But to the surprise of everyone watching, Gibson hobbled to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and unloaded a Dennis Eckersley pitch over the fence.

    Kirk's two-run walk-off job not only gave the Dodgers Game 1, but it also gave them all the momentum in a series they'd go on to with four games to one. 

15. Don Larsen's Perfection

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    When It Was Taken: Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

    Why It's Iconic: Don Larsen wasn't a good pitcher by any stretch of the imagination.

    But in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, he was on like a light.

    Larsen threw the only perfect game in MLB postseason history that night.

    Immediately after the 27th out, catcher Yogi Berra charged the mound and jumped into Larsen's arms in an image that is shown at the World Series about 120 times every year. 

14. Dwight Clark's Catch

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    When It Was Taken: 1982 NFC Championship Game

    Why It's Iconic: Known today as simply "The Catch," Dwight Clark's sensational grab from Joe Montana to win the NFC Championship Game is considered one of the defining moments of the NFL.

    It was when we realized just how special Montana was.

13. Ice Bowl QB Sneak

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    When It Was Taken: 1967 NFL Championship Game

    Why It's Iconic: On the night of the 1967 NFL Championship Game, the temperature at Lambeau Field was far beyond extreme. 

    The game-time temperature was measured at -15°F with a windchill of  -48°F. -48°F, just think about that for a second. Think about how cold 48° is, and imagine it being 96° colder, that's crazy.

    And as if that wasn't bad enough, the Lambeau Field turf-heating system "malfunctioned" (many believe Lombardi did this purposely to give Green Bay an advantage) leaving the field as smooth as ice.

    Fast forward to the fourth quarter, the wind chill is now around an unimaginable -70°F, Green Bay gets the ball in what will most likely be their last possession trailing, 17-14.

    After a miraculous drive led by Bart Starr, Green Bay was on the one-yard line. After two failed runs by Donny Anderson from the one, Green Bay uses their final time out.

    It's third-and-inches from the goal line, a field goal is not an option at this point because neither team could possibly be able to bare an overtime period in these dangerously cold conditions.

    Every soul watching the game knows Starr's going to throw it, another failed running play would end the game.

    But in perhaps the most gutsy play call in football history, Starr called his own number and scored behind a great block by Jerry Kramer. 

    What a moment, what a picture, what a game. 

12. Lou Gehrig Is the Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth

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    When It Was Taken: July 4, 1939

    Why It's Iconic: In what was perhaps the most dramatic moment to ever take place on a baseball field, Lou Gehrig, who was dying of a rare disease, gave his commencement address to New York Yankee fans just two years before his death.

    He famously declared himself "the luckiest man on the face of the Earth." The moment would be flawlessly recreated in the 1942 Lou Gehrig biopic The Pride of the Yankees.

11. There's a New Home Run Champion

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    When It Was Taken: April 8, 1974

    Why It's Iconic: Babe Ruth had held the title of all-time home run king for decades before Hank Aaron hit lucky No. 715 in 1974.

    The moment itself was one of the most special in baseball history, but when Aaron was between second and third, and these two Beatles wannabes joined him in rounding the bases, it became the enduring image of his achievement.  

10. Joe Namath Is No. 1

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    When It Was Taken: Super Bowl III

    Why It's Iconic: Super Bowl III was one of the most important games in the history of football. The NFL and AFL were going to be merged, but nobody thought the AFL teams could ever compete with the NFL powerhouses.

    And when Joe Namath guaranteed victory before the game, it was considered nothing more than a hoop dream.

    But then he delivered on that guarantee and led the Jets to an upset for the ages over the Colts.

    And he needed to say no more, his pointer finger did all the talking as he walked back to the locker room.

9. One Yard Short

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    When It Was Taken: Super Bowl XXXIV

    Why It's Iconic: With six seconds remaining in Super Bowl XXXIV, the Tennessee Titans found themselves on the Rams' 10-yard line with one final chance to strike.

    Quarterback Steve McNair found Kevin Dyson wide open about five yards from the goal line. As he turned to run the ball into the end zone and force overtime, Rams linebacker Mike Jones made the most clutch tackle in NFL history and wrapped him up about two-and-a-half yards from the goal line leaving Dyson's outstretched arm one yard short of the end zone. 

    One yard. One damn yard.

    That's the type of thing you wouldn't even see in a football movie because it seems too unrealistic. But for McNair and Dyson, it was all too real.

    What a beautiful photograph this is, few have ever more perfectly caught a moment. 

8. Michael Jordan Jumping After "The Shot"

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    When It Was Taken: Game 5 in the first round of the 1989 Eastern Conference Playoffs.

    Why It's Iconic: Who could ever forget Michael Jordan's post-"The Shot" jump?

    It's become a staple in both the career of MJ and Nike ad campaigns for years. 

7. 1968 Olympic Black Power Salute

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    When It Was Taken: 1968 Summer Olympics

    Why It's Iconic: After Tommy Smith finished first and John Carlos finished third (both African Americans) in the 200-meter sprint, they decided to send a message to the world when they took to the podium.

    The two U.S. athletes received their medals shoeless and wore black socks to represent black poverty. Smith wore a black scarf to represent black pride.

    Carlos had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with all blue-collar workers in the U.S. and wore a necklace of beads which he said, "Were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage."

    All three athletes who received medals (including Australian Peter Norman) wore Olympic Project for Human Rights badges,

    When "The Star-Spangled Banner" played, Smith and Carlos both saluted with their heads bowed. 

6. The Babe Calls His Shot

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    When It Was Taken: Game 3 of the 1932 World Series.

    Why It's Iconic: It's the Babe. The Great Bambino. The Sultan of Swat.

    If you haven't already heard the story of Babe Ruth's called shot then you were deprived of your childhood.

    Here's the story for those of you who never got to hear it. 

5. Willie Mays' Catch

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    When It Was Taken: Game 1 of the 1954 World Series.

    Why It's Iconic: Baseball's version of "The Catch" takes the top spot on the list when it comes to baseball pictures.

    Mays' legendary over-the-shoulder grab started with him in shallow center field, and ended with him retreating all the way to the warning track at the Polo Grounds to make this sensational catch almost 420 feet from home plate.

    The play prevented Cleveland from taking the lead and the Giants would go on to win the game in extra innings. They won the series in a sweep.

4. Lombardi's Last Bow

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    When It Was Taken: Super Bowl II

    Why It's Iconic: Vince Lombardi was arguably the greatest coach in NFL history.

    He, of course, made his name as head coach of the Green Bay Packers where he won five championships in nine seasons. 

    And after Super Bowl II, his last game as Packers coach, Lombardi was famously carried off the field in the most iconic image in Super Bowl history.

3. Miracle on Ice

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    When It Was Taken: 1980 Winter Olympics

    Why It's Iconic: Dubbed by Sports Illustrated among others as the best sporting moment of the 20th century, "The Miracle on Ice" really was miraculous.

    The USA's incredible upset of the Soviet Union with a team of amateurs is the most patriotic moment in American sports history.

    If it were up to me, this picture would be the new design for the American flag. 

2. Michael Jordan Takes Flight

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    When It Was Taken: 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

    Why It's Iconic: This is when MJ became Air Jordan.

    This was the moment when most people realized that the NBA had found a man who was different. The free-throw line jam had been done before, but it felt like Jordan was doing it for the first time.

    He had an aura about him, he was just better than everyone else.

    This MJ dunk earned him his nickname and helped him release the most popular brand of basketball shoes ever. 

1. Ali over Liston

104 of 104

    When It Was Taken: May 25, 1965

    Why It's Iconic: Was there ever any doubt?

    This picture of Muhammad Ali coaxing Sonny Liston to get back on his feet and screaming, "Get up and fight, sucker!" is by far the most iconic photograph in sports history.

    Known today as the "Phantom Punch," many people believe that Liston bet against himself and purposely took a dive midway through the first round because he owed the mafia money.

    Another theory states that he feared for his safety because of the Muslim extremists who supported Ali.

    What happened to Liston that night is unclear, but what isn't unclear is why this image is the most iconic in sports history.

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