Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Top 10 Sports Moments of the Oh-Oh’s

*Every Wednesday through the rest of the year, I will be posting a special "TOP 10 OF THE OH-OH'S" feature (sports moments, songs, TV shows, and movies) for at

As we sufficiently established a couple of weeks ago, I love lists. I get excited every December for all of the end-of-the-year lists that always come out, but typically refrain from providing my own just because we don’t really need one more. With that said, there was no way I was going to let an END-OF-THE-DECADE list opportunity pass me by.

By the beard of Zeus, where did the 2000’s go? (Or as I like to call them, the oh-oh’s) I know there will be many more life changes along my journey, but I have to think it doesn’t get much more drastic than when you’re in your twenties. Sure I will (hopefully) continue to grow as an adult from here on out, but your twenties is when you go from a child to an adult.

That’s a lot of growing.

So here’s my plan to remember the decade where I turned 21, interned at Letterman, dropped out of college, drove across the country twice, went back to college, helped start a magazine, got to be on TV and radio, got engaged and MARRIED, moved to Denver, and began our happily ever after (whew!): every Wednesday for the rest of December, I will roll out my Top 10 of the Oh-Oh’s in Sports Moments, Songs, TV Shows, and Movies (probably in that order).

There are a couple of quick rules. This is my list. Originally I had tried to keep my personal feelings out of it, but then I felt that by trying to appeal to everyone I was actually appealing to no one (basically I had become NBC). So please feel free to disagree and/or reply with your favorites below but this is just how I saw it. Also, (this will mainly apply to the TV shows) the moment or song or show or movie HAD TO start/happen in the 2000’s.

I think that’s it.

Today we start with the Top 10 Sports Moments of the Oh-Oh’s. It’s weird to think about how the sports landscape has changed in just a decade. Back in 1999, Jordan, Elway, and Jeter were leading dynasties, we didn’t know what a LeBron was and we hadn’t been yet introduced to Tom Brady. The Red Sox were still cursed and Philadelphia was still a tortured sports town. Then again the Yankees were world champs and the Cubs were still waiting for next year so maybe some things don’t ever change.

Keep in mind that these are my moments the way I remember them. I'm not going to rehash stats or scores, this is about where I was, who I was with, and how these moments affected me. I can't wait to hear back from you with your favorites.

And I can’t wait to see what and who the twenty-tens (or twenty-teens?) bring us and the moments we will experience.

10. 2008 NBA Finals – Celtics vs. Lakers (June 5-17, 2008)
This series makes the list for three reasons: (1) The first NBA finals that I can really remember is the 1989 matchup between the Bad Boy Pistons and the Lakers, just two years removed from the last classic between L.A. and Boston. As a die-hard pro basketball fan, I had always heard about the epic Celtic-Laker showdowns and it had perpetually irritated me that I had never witnessed one before. (2) So many times as a sports fan, you hope and wish and pray for a certain championship pairing and it rarely happens (I’m not holding my breath yet for the Undefeated Super Bowl this year between the Saints and the Colts). I was pining for this particular Finals from the beginning of the season and we actually got it. (3) It’s always nice to see Kobe lose.

9. 2008 NCCA Men’s Basketball Championship – Kansas vs. Memphis (April 7, 2008)
Never mind the fact that this was a great championship game that went to overtime, I will always remember this night as one of the first legendary DVR moments in the United States. Basically what happened was that if you had set up this game to record on a DVR but didn’t add extra time to the recording (as I always do now for sporting events because of this moment!) then the recording caught up to real time just as Kansas was passing the ball up the court for Mario Chalmer’s eventual amazing game-tying three pointer at the end of regulation. At the party I was at, we saw the pass to Chalmers but then the screen suddenly jumped to a live commercial. We were in agony as we had to wait until the coverage returned to find out what had happen. Originally I thought it was just us, but the next day I read multiple reports of the same thing happening across the country. Welcome to the DVR sports era!

8. Appalachian St. upsets Michigan (September 1, 2007)

This is the only one in the list I actually didn’t see. I was in a store shopping for my dad’s birthday present when I got a call from my buddy Moochie that this one was coming down to the wire. As Mooch gave me the play-by-play on the Wolverines’ final drive, I could not wrap my head around the thought of Michigan losing to App St. We both thought it was over when the Maze and Blue lined up for the game-winning field goal but I still laugh when I think about Moochie screaming into the phone when App St. blocked the attempt to secure the win. I got more than a few odd looks as I returned the screaming; at that was the exact moment I realized the importance of sports as a connection between friends.

7. Vince Carter’s 2000 Slam Dunk contest (February 12, 2000)
Before Vince became the unprofessional professional that he is now, he was once upon a time, my favorite college player of all time for my favorite college basketball team of all time (I still pull out the #15 UNC jersey every spring during March Madness). This was a simple case of the perfect dunker coming to the dunk contest at the perfect time – because if you remember the event had gotten a little stale during the 90’s after the Dr. J./Dominique/Jordan heyday of the 1980’s. That’s the night Carter went from just Vince to Vincesanity and an ex-girlfriend even got me an awesome framed frame-by-frame picture of Carter’s 360 Tomahawk. Every time I see Vince take a play or a game off, or destroy an entire franchise, I take a look at the picture and remember what he once was.

6. Colorado Rockies 2007 Rocktober Run (September 16-October 15, 2007)
The one moment that will forever stick out for me was the night my then-Girlfriend (now Wife) and I were eating in an Olive Garden back home in Virginia and I just happened to walk by a TV set at the bar to see Tony Gwynn Jr. (playing for the Brewers) get the game winning base hit to beat the Padres to keep the Rockies’ playoff hopes alive. That, and of course the EPIC one game playoff between Colorado and San Diego that ended with another gut-wrenching come from behind win for the Rock Stars. We had been watching that game at my Girlfriends’ house and I just wasn’t feeling the mojo there. I made a risky decision to leave her house and drive home in the middle of the 13th inning and got to my place just in time to see the game winning hit off the right field wall that scored Matt Holliday at home. It was a magical run from the beginning and everything fell just perfectly along the way. You’re welcome Denver.

5. 2001 World Series – Diamondbacks vs. Yankees (October 27-November 4, 2001)
This one was huge for a variety of reasons. First of all, the Yankees were on the verge of a four-peat that would have surely ushered in the end of the world. Secondly, this was the last legitimate really World Series we saw in the decade (I know the Giants-Angels went 7 Games, but it didn’t offer the same level of drama). And finally, and most importantly, this series took place just a few short weeks after the 9-11 attacks and we were all still an emotional and mental mess. Regardless of your politics, there was something comforting about then President Bush coming out in the middle of that open stadium before Game 1 to throw out the first pitch. It was just another reason to love sports: not only did that series serve as the perfect distraction to help us rebound, but it was the ultimate stage to show ourselves – and the world – that we were going to be OK.

4. NCAA Championship Game – Texas vs. USC (January 4, 2006)
This one probably should be higher but it’s my list and I was rooting for USC, so there. Almost four years later I still can’t get over the Trojans’ outright arrogance in refusing to change their defensive game plan as Longhorns’ QB Vince Young was just gashing them on the ground. As much as I cannot stand the BCS system (can you imagine a world where the Vikings were told they couldn’t challenge for the Super Bowl this year because the Saints and Colts were ranked higher… by a computer???), this was one of the few “title” games that actually felt like it in the 2000s.

3. Super Bowl XLII – Giants vs. Patriots (February 3, 2008)
This one should DEFINITELY be higher but this was legitimately one of the worst days of my life. I had been brutally sick in the days leading up to this game and finally went to the hospital on Super Bowl Sunday morning. After one of the most intrusive physical exams I’ve ever received (you can read all the graphic and gory details here), I just wanted to pass out that evening. As much as I don’t like the Patriots, I really wanted to see a team go undefeated, and as a lifelong Eagles fan, I HATE the Giants. You know what? Let’s keep moving, I can’t relive this day any longer…

2. LeBron’s 48 point playoff game (May 31, 2007)
As sacrilegious as the Nike “We Are Witnesses” ad campaign is, we were in awe for this performance and it made me a believer in King James once and for all. You have to understand that I saw him play live in Philly in 2004 and in D.C. in 2006 and I hadn’t yet seen what all the hype was about. For those two live games, LeBron took A LOT of plays off, just standing by the three point line on offense and defense and only moving when he seemed motivated. This was NOT the next Jordan. The weekend of the legendary 48 point game, Mooch and I had flown up to Boston for a Red Sox-Yankees game (we had seen them play in the Bronx in 2001 and wanted to get both sides of the experience) and we had just happened to stop in one of the nation’s most famous sports bars – The Fours. There was just something special about watching LeBron go nuts on the Pistons under the shadow of the Celtics arena (what is that building even called these days? The Boston Garden Fleet Center at the TD Bank Arena in the Boston Garden?). That’s the day LeBron became one of the greats and as much as I hate to say it, we were witnesses.

1B. 2004 ALCS – Red Sox vs. Yankees (October 12-20, 2004)
For the rest of time whenever a team gets down three games to none in any playoff series, you cannot count them out because of this series. This was back when the Phillies would be out of the race by July and I would turn my attention to the BoSox because I hated the Yankees that much (still do, but the Red Sox have basically become the Yankees so I hate them now too). After the Dave Roberts steal that led to the Boston win in Game 4, a light bulb suddenly went on over everyone’s heads. If the Red Sox could just somehow win Game 5 in Boston, then they would have Schilling in Game 6 and Pedro in Game 7 (in New York). It didn’t seem that outrageous that it could happen. And it did. Paulie’s poor Cardinals didn’t have a prayer against that momentum train in the World Series and it is a series that will be talked about until the end of time. That’s why it gets the top spot along with one special exception…

1A. 2008 World Series – Phinally! (October 29, 2008)
This one is just for me and my dad. You go 25 years without seeing you favorite teams win a championship (the 76ers won the NBA title when I was three so I definitely do not remember that) and you start to think that’s just the way it’s going to be. That World Series win forever changed my life as a sports fan. I’m in the club now and it can never get taken away. Of course our Series win had to be split into two nights (because of weather) and we were at the Monarch Sports Bar in Norfolk, VA for the suicide innings on that Wednesday night. I am not ashamed to say, I cried – no wept when the final out was recorded. It wasn’t tears of joy but relief; 25 years of agony gone for good. My dad and I had seen a championship together. I knew I could finally move to Denver, I knew I could finally move on with life.

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