Michael Phelps at the Beijing Olympics
The 2008 games as a whole weren’t bigger than the hype surrounding Michael Phelps and his quest for eight gold medals in one Olympiad. He won eight total medals at the Athens games in 2004, but only six were gold. Two of the record eight gold medals Phelps won were in dramatic fashion. One took place in 4 x 100 relay where his teammate Jason Lezak came back to beat the French team by eight hundredths of a second. The other happened 100 meter butterfly where Phelps had just enough of a reach to touch the wall before Milorad Cavic. Phelps’ time 50.58. Cavic’s time 50.59. A damn good performance for the new record holder.
2008 & 2009 Wimbledon Finals
Roger Federer had it all in 2008. He was looking for his sixth consecutive Wimbledon title and had beaten Rafael Nadal the last two years. In fact, Nadal had never beaten Federer on the grass surface. Nadal had Federer early winning the first two sets. Federer would rally to even up the match to a fifth set. There were three rain delays that threatened to suspend play due to darkness. It all came to an end though with just under five hours played Nadal wins the fifth set 9-7 when Federer’s forehand hit the net. Federer was denied a sixth consecutive Wimbledon, but Nadal made it a moment for the ages.
As if the 2008 Wimbledon wasn’t exciting enough. The following year saw Federer return to reclaim Wimbledon and was going for a record 20th grand slam title. There was no Rafael Nadal this time due to injury, but Andy Roddick was looking for his first Wimbledon title and wasn’t going to give in to history that easily. Roddick got the first set. Federer won the next two sets on tiebreakers. Roddick would force a fifth set winning the fourth 6-3. Roddick and Federer wouldn’t give an inch to each other. The fifth set alone went on for more than 2 hours. In the end, Federer outlasted Roddick for his record 20th slam title. The greatest tennis player of all time had to earn it and Roddick solidified himself as a true gamer in tennis.
George Mason in the Final Four
The 2006 tournament had its Cinderella story. They stormed through as an eleven seed not being on most experts radars. When it came time for their game in the Elite 8 of the tournament, they had to face Connecticut who had a record of 30-3 entering the tourney. The Huskies have been a formidable team the past decade in college basketball. Both rosters were worlds apart when it came to size and talent, but George Mason didn’t care about those. They played hard the entire game going into overtime. Shocking the basketball world and Connecticut they advanced to the Final Four with a 86-84 victory. A mid major had done the unthinkable and earned a spot for the national title.
Red Sox win not one, but two titles
Who would’ve thought it would ever happen. Eighty six years since the last title. The Babe Ruth curse. Bucky bleepin Dent and all that great history makes for an even bigger event when they finally do win a title. 2004 was the first one in dramatic fashion just to get there. Down 3-0 to the hated Yankees in the ALCS, they came back to win the series 4-3 to advance. They swept the Cardinals in the World Series to clinch the first one. The second came in 2007 in relatively less dramatic fashion, but another sweep in the Series against the Colorado Rockies. The ALCS again that year was tougher than the Series. Down 3 games to 2 to the Cleveland Indians, they came back to win when the Indians were so close. Amazingly Boston became a powerhouse when they were a laughing stock for 86 years.
2003 Fiesta Bowl
A great game that tragically had a controversial pass interference call ruin some, but not all of it. It was the national title in College Football between Miami (Fla.) and Ohio State. Miami was looking for its second consecutive title and become only the third school to accomplish that in the last 35 years. Alas it didn’t happen as the Buckeyes thanks to the controversial call, tied the game at 24. It took double overtime for the Ohio State to score the winning touchdown winning the title 31-24. The only title game to go into overtime to decide the winner. It’s too bad most remember the call and not the game. Great from start to finish.
It’s simple. Seven straight Tour De France titles, six in this decade. In half of them he had to make a comeback or avoid crashes that could have halted his chance of winning. We all know his story, but we do forget how grueling this race is not just for a cancer survivor, but for the average joe. Over 2,200 miles that spans through the country side, mountains and city streets that lasts almost a month. And you thought riding your bike back and forth to work was tough. Lance is a true hero and a legendary athlete. Not many get to have both of those titles.
Tiger wins on one leg
Torrey Pines was the sight of the 2008 US Open Golf Tournament. Tiger Woods was to many peoples surprise not himself. He had returned sooner than expected from reconstructive knee surgery, but in the process suffered a double stress fracture of his left tibia. He winced through every tee shot, chip and putt to force a playoff with Rocco Mediate. They had to play 18 more holes to decide the winner. How you can play through such pain is unknown to most. Jack Youngblood comes to mind. A defensive lineman who played through a broken leg in the conference championship game and the Super Bowl for Rams back in the 1980s. Tiger showed determination and grit when others would’ve called it a day.
Annika Sorenstam 2003 Colonial
She was on her way to becoming the greatest golfer on the LPGA. She was given the invitation to participate in the Bank of America Colonial golf tournament. A tournament on the PGA tour. Annika become the first women since Babe Zaharias in 1945 to participate in a PGA tournament. Some on the PGA tour wrongly criticized her participation, but she played her best and was a crowd favorite. She finished short of the cut, placing 96th out 111. Her best accomplishments are her 10 major championships in the LPGA. Eight were won in this decade alone. Her retirement was a sad time for not just the LPGA, but the entire golf world.
Super Bowl XXXIV
The Rams and Titans were two relative nobodies in the NFL. The Rams had recently moved from LA to St. Louis. The Titans moved from Houston as the Oilers to Tennessee to become the Titans. Tennessee went through the AFC with ease. St. Louis had to win with their defense, not their offense to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship. They both met in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia with a lot of uncertainty as to what kind of game would you be seeing. Alas it was a defensive game until the Rams blew the game wide open with a quick 70 yard plus touchdown pass by Kurt Warner to Isaac Bruce putting the Rams up 23-16 with two minutes to play. The Titans Steve McNair would not give in as he led them on a perfect two minute drill to set up wide receiver Kevin Dyson who was unfortunately just one yard short of tying the game. The decade of great Super Bowls started with this one and it should be noted.
Kobe Bryant 2nd to Chamberlain
The only reason I can say why I missed this game is that the Super Bowl was on. I know, a lame excuse, but it was during Super Bowl XXXVI. Anyway Kobe was his usual self scoring at will. He had 26 points at halftime losing 63-49 to the Toronto Raptors. No one had thought the fury of Bryant would be unleashed in the second half as he single handily brought the Lakers back in the game and in the process was going for history. A total of 55 points was scored by Kobe in the second half. If you do the math, he scored 81 of the Lakers 122 points. He outscored every Raptors player in the second half. Kobe adds to his soon to be Hall of Fame resume with a stunning performance on perhaps the best night in sports this decade.