The following four moments are some of the most iconic in sports history. They’re so iconic in fact, I guarantee that the announcer’s exact words are ingrained in your mind. Before reading the blurb that follows the image, take a second, and look at the photo and re-imagine what you heard when that moment happened.
“The Cubs win the World Series! It’s over! And the Cubs have finally won it all!”
The Chicago Cubs finally ended the longest championship drought in major North-American sports history on November 2nd, 2016, breaking the “Curse of the Billy Goat.” The curse was placed on the Cubs all the way back in 1954 by William Sianis. Sianis was a tavern owner who was an avid Cubs fan. After people insulted the odor coming from his pet goat were kicked out of Wrigley Field, but before they left, Sianis proclaimed, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.”
The Cubs did not win another National League pennant until 2016, with the curse lasting 62 years. The Cubs went on to win the World Series that year. But the most out-of-this-world stat is the 108-year drought between the franchise’s World Series titles, with the previous title coming in 1908. To put that in perspective, milk cost 28 cents a gallon and plastic was invented a mere three years prior to the 1908 World Series.
“Oh! Blocked by James!”
Perhaps the most iconic moment of Lebron James’ legendary career, the “Block Heard ‘Round the World” couldn’t have come at a better time for James. In an almost parallel situation to the aforementioned Chicago Cubs, the Cleveland Cavaliers also had an almost mystic curse placed on them. However, it wasn’t just the Cavaliers who were under this curse. The curse affected all Cleveland sports teams, including both the Cleveland Browns of the NFL and the Cleveland Indians of the MLB—the team that the Cubs defeated in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.
After eight unfruitful years in Cleveland, James made “The Decision” to join the Miami Heat, where he won two championships, [more on that later], James ultimately rejoined his home-state team, promising to bring a championship to the city of Cleveland. With two minutes remaining in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala grabbed a rebound, and flew down the court to a seemingly wide-open dunk. Lebron James had other plans. Like a lion hunting his prey, James shadowed Iguodala from behind, running as fast as physically possible, and ultimately pinned Iguodala’s shot attempt against the backboard. James and the Cavaliers went on to win the game, and the NBA Championship, after a tremendous off-balance shot by point guard Kyrie Irving.
“Pass is… intercepted at the goal line by Malcolm Butler! Unreal!”
While the previous two stories have been typical underdog stories like Rocky, this story is about the kings reclaiming their throne. For the New England Patriots, winning is a standard, and for over two decades nobody was better at winning than the Patriots. However, despite posting the best record of any major sports team in North America during this time, the Patriots had gone nine seasons without an NFL Championship.
The Patriots match-up against the defending champion, Seattle Seahawks was a clash of a new-school, hard-nosed defense versus an old-school classic, short-minded offense. This match-up was bound to be entertaining.. With Marshawn Lynch in the backfield for Seattle, the Seahawks easily stormed up the field during what seemed to be the game-winning drive for the team. As the Seahawks lined up just a few yards from the end-zone they decided not to feed Lynch. Instead, Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll decided to throw the ball, for reasons unbeknownst to many.
And the rest is history. In a twist of fate, defense ultimately won the game for the Patriots. Rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler stepped in front of Russell Wilson’s pass and intercepted the ball at the goal-line, sealing the victory for the Patriots. Super Bowl XLIX was the first of three Super Bowls within five seasons for the New England Patriots.
“James, catches, puts up a three, won’t go, rebound Bosh, back out to Allen his three pointer BANG!”
Was there any doubt this moment wasn’t going to be on this list? Similarly to the brief “Jimmer” period of time in basketball history, kids around the globe were saying “Back out to Allen,” as they pulled up for three. Every NBA fan probably knows where they were when Allen released the 22-footer to tie Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
For the defending NBA Champion, Miami Heat, fending off the San Antonio Spurs was an extremely difficult task. With then young buck Kawhi Leonard all over Lebron James in this series, the Heat struggled to find a rhythm on offense. With 12 seconds left in the game the Heat were down by 3 points. James put up a desperate attempt from beyond the arc, hoping to tie the game. It missed, but power forward Chris Bosh miraculously grabbed the rebound, and kicked the ball out to shooting guard Ray Allen. With a mass of bodies flying at him, Allen hit the shot of the decade and tied the game with five seconds remaining. The Heat went on to win Game 6, and eventually the NBA Championship, completing their defense of the title.
Some view this shot as a saving grace for Lebron’s career, because if Allen missed, James would be an abysmal two for nine in Finals appearances. I look at this shot in a different manner. Instead of using this as fuel to the Anti-James train, I look back on this moment and appreciate the greatness of Ray Allen. Perhaps the best three-point shooter of all-time, with only Stephen Curry in the debate alongside him, Allen’s career was very unappreciated. For me, this shot is a sweet moment that I’ll tell my grandkids.