Great Sports Moments That Never Happened
There are a lot of things sports can teach us, and one of the most important things is that they don't follow scripts.
Just when things seem destined to happen, we fans are shocked by outcomes that leave us all wondering not only what happened but how it did.
Whether you want to attribute it to choking, fate or just being beaten by a better team, here are a few potentially great moments that never actually happened.
2012 Kentucky Wildcats Get Past the NIT's First Round
When a team is as stacked with top recruits as the John Calipari-led Kentucky Wildcats have been since Cal took the head coaching duties, they’re expected to make a deep run each March.
Yet after coming off a national title in 2011-12, the Cats found themselves not only missing the NCAA tourney—having to settle for an NIT berth—but then being absolutely humiliated in the tournament’s first round against Robert Morris.
I’m not saying UK should win them all, but being defending champs and with a blue-blood program like that, the Wildcats should never look as dull and uninspired as they did that season.
2006 Ohio State Buckeyes Win the National Title
Unlike the 2002 version of the Ohio State Buckeyes, the 2006 roster wasn't lucky enough to earn a national championship.
Defeating two other teams who were ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time the Bucks played them—Texas and Michigan—running the table in the regular season and having Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith at quarterback, OSU seemed like a safe bet to stay as the No. 1-ranked team from start to finish.
Then the Florida Gators came along, with a suffocating defense that stifled Ohio State and a dynamic offense that ran past them, humiliating the scarlet and gray 41-14 in the national championship game.
The Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight
The sport of boxing might not be as popular as it once was, but two fighters who always draw interest are Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
That’s why everyone has wanted to see the two square off in the ring in what would instantly become one of the most hyped bouts in recent memory.
Sadly, all the talk hasn’t produced a result yet, as complications seem to be holding this up—although both sides continue to work toward making it happen, per Wil Esco of SB Nation (h/t Yahoo Sports).
If it does go down, here’s to it living up to all of the hype.
Lakers Dream Team Wins a Title
Just when you thought the 2003-04 L.A. Lakers were on a crash course with their fourth NBA title in five seasons, the Detroit Pistons quickly put a stop to any dynasty talk.
Putting together a team of four future Hall of Famers like Karl Malone, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Gary Payton, along with a head coach in Phil Jackson who eventually won more rings than any other, the Lakers just couldn’t seal the deal.
After winning 56 games during the regular season, the Pistons showed that big names don’t win championships, but that a true team does.
2007 Dallas Mavericks Go Further Than the First-Round
Going 67-15 in the regular season, the 2007 Dallas Mavericks not only owned one of the best records in NBA history but also had the league’s MVP—Dirk Nowitzki—on their side as they grabbed the Western Conference’s top seed.
And while one would assume the No. 1 seed had the edge over the No. 8 seed—which happened to be the Golden State Warriors—that person would be wrong.
Falling into a 3-1 series hole, the Mavs forced a Game 6 but were run off the floor, losing by 25 to be eliminated in the first-round.
The lesson? Never assume games are won on paper.
Brazil Wins the 2014 World Cup
It was supposed to be destiny.
Arguably the most prominent and exciting soccer nation in the world, Brazil were believed to be favorites heading into this past summer's World Cup on their home soil.
With a few tense wins and the breakout of superstar Neymar Jr., Brazil did reach the semifinals but failed to show up against Germany in the match after losing Neymar to injury a game prior.
What was supposed to be ecstasy ended in tears for fans of the Selecao.
2000 Portland Trail Blazers Reach the NBA Finals
While the L.A. Lakers are remembered for winning three straight NBA Finals from 2000-2003, it might never have actually happened.
That’s because the Portland Trail Blazers had the Lakers on the ropes, gasping for air in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, leading them by 15 in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers outscored Portland 29-10 down the stretch, capping an epic comeback that was punctuated with an alley-oop from Kobe Bryant to Shaquille O’Neal, leaving the Blazers dazed by what just unfolded.
Miami (FL) Wins a Second-Straight National Title
Hoping to become the first back-to-back national champs since the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 1994 and 1995, the Miami Hurricanes had a roster stacked with future NFL superstars.
Andre Johnson, Willis McGahee, Kellen Winslow Jr., Jonathan Vilma, Antrel Rolle and Sean Taylor were just a few of those big names who helped the Canes roll off 34 straight wins, making them heavy favorites to beat the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Showing a blue-collar attitude and the grit to pull out the victory, Ohio State shocked the world by beating Miami and all of their future first-round draft picks, capturing its first national title since 1970.
2004 New York Yankees Reach the World Series
There’s probably a good chance some of you have heard about this one.
In what was supposed to be a simple win in the American League Championship Series over the rival Boston Red Sox for the second straight year, and with a 3-0 series lead, the New York Yankees had an epic collapse of historical significance.
Rather than reach the World Series, the Yanks were forced to see the Sox win four straight, becoming the first MLB team to win a series after trailing by three games and ultimately ending the Curse of the Bambino by winning their first World Series in 86 years.
2010 Heat Win the NBA Championship
Everyone immediately assumed that bringing together All-Stars LeBron James and Chris Bosh with Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat would result in title after title—but it wasn’t that easy.
While the squad did eventually produce four straight trips to the NBA Finals and back-to-back titles, their first season together included some tumultuous times.
A couple extended losing streaks were fixed by the playoffs, and James appeared to be set for his first ring. But Dirk Nowitzki and his Dallas Mavericks spoiled that, as they shut down King James—especially in the fourth quarter—to prove that even a team with three superstars can be beaten.
2001 Seattle Mariners Reach the World Series
Like a few others on this list, the 2001 Seattle Mariners had the look of a championship team through the regular season yet completely collapsed once the playoffs began.
Winning an MLB-record 116 games thanks to the impact of Rookie of the Year and AL MVP Ichiro Suzuki, the M’s did make the ALCS but lost in five games to the New York Yankees—who went on to win the World Series.
A team accomplishing so much in the regular season and not even making the title round has to go down as one of the worst missed opportunities in sports history.
New England Patriots Complete Undefeated Season
Just when everyone was declaring the 2007 New England Patriots the greatest team to ever take to the gridiron, the New York Giants reminded everyone that there was one more game to play: the Super Bowl.
Going 16-0 during the regular season, the Pats may have broken records and fielded a team that looked unstoppable, but the G-Men proved they were anything but.
Hoping to match the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who went unbeaten, New England’s season ended with just one loss—the one that mattered the most.
JR Hildebrand Wins the 2011 Indy 500
I could only imagine what it would be like to be a 23-year-old Indy car driver less than one lap away from winning one of the most prestigious races in the sport, the Indy 500.
One guy who knows? JR Hildebrand, who was in that exact situation back in 2011.
There was one little problem.
Rather than complete that last turn, Hildebrand lost control of his wheel and crashed into the wall, allowing Dan Wheldon to pass him for the win.
Hey, at least the rookie finished second, though.
2003 Chicago Cubs Reach the World Series
Just when every Chicago Cubs fan thought they had finally ended all the curses and self-doubt, Steve Bartman happened.
Of course, that’s not to fault the poor guy who was in the absolute wrong place at the wrong time—as Cubby players were the ones who gave up the eight runs following Bartman’s infamous "play"—but still, he’s the one who generally gets the blame.
Rather than reaching their first World Series since 1908, Cubs fans had to endure yet another bad-luck loss, as the Florida Marlins defeated them to reach—and then eventually win—the World Series.
Jean Van De Velde Hangs on in the 1999 British Open
Jean van de Velde losing the 1999 British Open the way he did was just excruciating to watch.
Needing only a double-bogey to win The Open title, the Frenchman played the final hole of the tournament as poorly as possible, hitting his ball all over the place and nearly trying to play a shot from the water surrounding the green.
Van de Velde finished the hole with a triple-bogey, landing him in a playoff that he ultimately lost, leaving Paul Lawrie as the champ.
1986 Boston Red Sox Actually Get the Last Out
Sometimes, the hardest out to make is the very last one.
With a two-run lead in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets, every Boston Red Sox fan's prayers were supposed to be answered—with the Curse of the Bambino disappearing into thin air.
But then, well, it happened: a couple base knocks and then eventually the famed Bill Buckner error, costing Boston the game and, a few days later, the World Series—as they lost to the Mets in Game 7.