Amazing is a word I hate using to describe anything on a professional level.
The word has lost its luster over time due to excessive use, myself included in that transgression.
But in the case of the magnificent sporting events that define a sports fan’s life, it’s the only word to use.
People like myself who follow teams on a daily basis build an unparalleled level of commitment to sports teams.
A lot of these moments are tied to my favorite teams for that reason.
Sure, the Red Sox winning the World Series for the first time in 86 years and lifting the Curse of the Bambino was very significant to baseball history, but if I remember correctly, a team with a longer drought won the next year.
7. Super Bowl XLI may not have ended the way I would have liked, but it will always hold a special place in my heart as the first time I saw the Bears in the mecca of sporting events (not including the ’85 Bears in the Super Bowl, which I do have on DVD).
This was the final appearance in a championship for three of my favorite teams in a calendar year (including the Chicago White Sox and University of Illinois basketball), but this was probably the most improbable for one reason. His name has become as synonymous with failure in Chicago as the former governor who tried to sell Obama’s Senate seat.
Rex Grossman may have started off the ’06 campaign looking like an MVP, but that quickly turned south. His weekly fumbled snaps and lame duck passes made fans cringe.
But once he turned the ball over, the real reason Chicago tuned in on Sundays took the field. Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and company gave opposing offenses the chills.
Just like the previous 30 years, the Bears boasted one of the league’s most fearsome defenses.
On that fateful February night, Devin Hester gave Bears’ fans their sole highlight when he returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. But eventually Grossman was forced to take the field and that’s when trouble started to brew.
He saved his worst for last that season and made mistakes you’d expect to see on a Pop Warner field. And that fearsome defense wasn’t enough to contain the best QB in the league, and the Colts stormed off with a victory.
6. This one is the reason why I’m writing this. The latest addition to this prestigious list happened last weekend. The Valley’s very own Northern Iowa played the role of David to a tee against Kansas’ Goliath.
In one of the greatest basketball games I have ever seen, up there with number two on this list and a close cut, Game 6 of the Bulls-Celtics series last year.
Behind Ali Farokhmanesh’s clutch 3-pointers and Jordan Eglseder’s defense on All-American Cole Aldrich, the Panthers upset the top-seeded Jayhawks. With these highlights still fresh in our minds, let’s remember that Bradley somehow found a way to beat this team once, and almost beat them another time.
Maybe we stormed the court knowing the team we just beat would beat the No. 1 team in the country? Transitive property anyone?
5. The game I wish I went to last year is definitely the one played against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 23. That day Mark Buehrle got up at the perfect time and on the perfect side of the bed. The only night I’ve ever slept in my basement, I got up to watch the Sox take on the defending AL champs and ended up with two memories I will never forget.
The first is of Dewayne Wise doing the only thing he ever did in a Sox uni, and making the catch of a lifetime. The other is of the Hawk barely being able to contain himself as Alexei Ramirez flipped the ball to Josh Fields at first.
Moral of the story is that I highly recommend watching perfect games and Buehrls is awesome.
4. Another one fresh off the press is the only one on this list that is of global proportions. This winter, the U.S. and Canada engaged in two fantastic hockey games in the Winter Olympics. And even though I felt better after the first one, the second installment was one for the ages.
Canada came in looking like they’d wipe the floor with the competition and the U.S. came in looking too “young.” But those predispositions were thrown out the window when the U.S. took the game and Canada crawled back to get their rematch in the gold medal game.
Long story short, American Zach Parise ended up finding the back of the net with less than 30 seconds left to tie and send the game to OT.
But it all goes for naught as Sidney Crosby finally wakes up and scores the game winner against super stud goalie Ryan Miller. I guess we’ll let the Canadians keep hockey for now.
3. For this one, I was kind of young. But I had just gotten into sports and just like every other kid my age in Chicago, basketball was where it was at. And for three magical years (I wasn’t coherent enough for the first three-peat), the Bulls dominated with a 72-win season and two fantastic Finals against the Jazz.
But in what may be basketball’s greatest moment, Michael Jordan sealed what will remain the most untouchable career. His jumper over Byron Russell in Game 6 of the ’98 Finals makes for one of the most recognizable pictures in sports’ history, up there with the picture of Walter Payton diving over the pile into the end zone that hangs in my house.
Jordan is the reason basketball lives today. Without him, there’s no Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James.
2. The most shocking four minutes of my life are thanks to Luther Head and Deron Williams. After sleepwalking through 36 minutes, the Fighting Illini in ’05 decided that they could win this game against Arizona in the Elite Eight. Going into the final 3:56 of the game down 15 points, Head and Williams went on a tear.
They scored, stole the ball and drove at will against a very good Wildcat team. The image of Head dribbling the ball from half court with a murderous look on his face and taking the ball to the rack is one that will always define my sports upbringing.
1. I’ll keep this short and sweet. Ball bounces over the outstretched glove of Bobby Jenks. Juan Uribe picks it up on the move and fires to Konerko at first all in one motion.
To quote Ed Farmer, “That’s a White Sox winner and a World Championship.”
Bill Hopkins is a sophomore sports communication major from Oswego. He is the Scout sports editor.
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