Friday, January 05, 2007

Ben's Top 10 Captivating Sporting Events

Most people who do not enjoy sports hate it when others talk about them. I have run across this on more than one occasion in my life, so I apologize for today's post to those of you who find sports trivial, consuming, or boring. I ask that you graciously humor me for a day.

I've been inspired over the past week to come up with my personal list of favorite sports moments that I have experienced. The sources of inspiration were three-fold: the Boise St./Oklahoma football game, Adam Lucas's article on UNC sports 2006, and my blog-friend Chris Pappa's post from Friday December 22. My list will consist of the ten games that most captured my emotions regardless of whether they made me want to cry, throw something, and yell for a long time. I do this partly because of the aforementioned inspirations but also because goosebumps are never a bad thing.

Ben's Top 10 Captivating Sporting Events:

10. Payne Stewart at Pinehurst - 1999 U.S. Open: One of the first times I ever remember being captivated by a sporting event, and one of the first times I almost cried while watching it. I attended Saturday's third round and watched Payne sink his winning par putt on Sunday while avoiding the drive to camp. Payne died in an airplane accident within the year.

9. Milwaukee Bucks at Charlotte Hornets - May 17, 2001: In Game 6, the Hornets three game winning streak, as well as their strongest bid for the conference finals, ended when Ray Allen was inexplicably left wide-open for three with less than a minute remaining in a tied ball game. I paid $40.00 for a $12.00 ticket just to get in the door. The Hornets lost the series to Milwaukee in Game 7. We lost the team to New Orleans the next year.

8. Duke at UNC - March 6, 2005: Lee Melchioni's 3-pointer gave Duke an insurmountable 9-point lead with 3:00 to go. Marvin Williams's 3-point play finished the Tar Heels's surmounting on senior night. Sean May had 26 points and 24 rebounds that night, and I walked within two feet of him on campus the next day.

7. Furman Paladins at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets - June 3, 2005: One of my dearest friends in the world, A.J. Davidiuk, played shortstop for Furman in this 10-inning, NCAA tourny first round game, as the Paladins came close to pulling a George Mason-esque upset. I did not get to see it but spent the better part of 2 hours sneaking away from my summer job to call my parents for updates. The next day against Michigan he went 2-for-3 and got his name on the Bottom Line of Sportscenter.

5a. Miami at UNC - October 30, 2004: The UNC newspaper predicted us to lose 42-3 in this homecoming game. Oops.

5b. NCSU at UNC - October 9, 2004: The defense hadn't stopped anybody all year. No reason to believe they would start now. And then, as I couldn't watch, T.A. fumbled.

4. Carolina Hurricanes at Detroit Red Wings - 2002 Stanley Cup, Game 1: After watching the Hurricanes take Game 1 against the all-world Red Wings, I believed - and drove home listening to "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" by Drowning Pool as loud as my '93 Honda Accord speakers would allow.

3. UNC vs. Oregon St. - June 26, 2006: The Heels dominate the National Championship game but can't get a multitude of runners in from scoring position. A painful throwing error allows the go-ahead run. The curtain falls on maybe my favorite sports team I've ever followed - one day before my birthday.

2. UNC vs. Illinois - April 4, 2005: 12 classes at UNC have experienced a National Title since 1957. I was fortunate to be in one of them.

1. Carolina Panthers at St. Louis Rams - January 10, 2004: Three steps after Steve Smith caught Delhomme's pass, I realized Jason Sehorn was the only person left. I yelled "Go Steve, go Steve," accidently punched my roomate in the face as I pumped my fist, and was giddy for days. The gutty Panthers were advancing to the NFC Championship Game after winning a game I thought they had lost on three separate occasions.

I'd love to hear your top 10 (or 5 or 3 or 1) memorable sports events if you've got them. Enjoy the weekend!


Wilson said...

October 1991: Braves vs. Pirates. The game where Fransico Cabrera knocks in Sid Bream to complete the worst to first season and the start of 14 straight division titles.

October 2004: MSU vs. Florida: Jerious Norwood goes nuts on Florida's D, and we shut down Chris Leak for the upset of #19 UF. The next day, Ron Zook is fired, and also the birth of the term "Croomed" meaning to be fired after losing to MSU.

October 1995: Braves vs. Indians game 6. Tom Glavine pitches a beauty to win the World Series.

October 2004: Braves vs. Astros game 7 I think. 18 inning game which sees Clemens try to close the game, every Braves pitcher available blow a lead, and Chris Burke hit a homer in the bottom 18th to win it. I will hate him forever.

Sept. 2006 Saints vs. Falcons. First game back in the Superdome. Saints roll.

March 1996. MSU's run to the Final Four. Not one game in particular, just the entire thing. We had arguably the best team in the country that year, and had beaten eventual national champ Kentucky twice that year already. Inexplicable blew it against Syracuse in typical State fashion. We don't take expectations very well.

February 2003: MSU vs. Kentucky. We're up by one with around a second to play. Jump ball, UK possession. Time only for a lob towards the basket which Chuck Hayes manages to somehow tip it in for the win.

Anonymous said...

wilson the volleyball?

glad to see you made it home

Oakley said...

No Olympic's Ben? I'll never forget watching the 2004 marathon in Athens as British favorite Paula Radcliff was broken (mind, body, and soul) and just sat on the curb with 3 miles to go and cried. Then Deena Kastor came from behind and did America proud by claiming the bronze. Endorsements/sponsors aside, these folks are refreshingly enough not in it for the money.......