Top 10 Greatest American Sports Moments of the Decade

As 2020 continues to develop as a dreadful start of a new decade, sports fanatics sit at home as the hopes of live sport's return wither away more and more each day of quarantine. With most fans binging their favorite sporting events to get at least a feeling of nostalgia, I figured it was necessary to start with the recollection of the top 10 greatest sports moments of the last decade and relive the ecstasy these moments brought the fans all over again. We got nothing but time.

10) Patriots come back from 28-3 to win Super Bowl LI - Feb. 2017

The Atlanta Falcons thought they had the title in the bag when with less than 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter, they held a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots. At that point, the largest comeback in Super Bowl history was only ten points, but Tom Brady figured he and his Patriots could do better than that.

The Patriots scored a whopping 25 points to tie the game up with just a minute left, and a final touchdown by James White in the first overtime in Super Bowl history while also setting the record for the biggest comeback.

9) Washington Nationals Win First World Series in Franchise History - Oct. 2019

The Nationals, who earlier in the season had more defeats than victories, defeated the Houston Astros 6-2 in game 7 to put the cherry-on-top of a sensational comeback season and earn their first World Series title in franchise history.

Second-baseman Howie Kendrick and third-baseman Anthony Rendon put an end to the Astro's early lead by crushing their own home runs in the seventh inning to give the Nationals the lead for good. Starting pitcher Patrick Corbin did his part securing three scoreless innings before being replaced on the mound by Daniel Hudson to deliver the last three outs.

As soon as Hudson struck out Michael Brantley for the final out, the dugout emptied and the outfielders ran towards the mound to celebrate their victory. All without Bryce Harper's help.

8) The Kick Six - Nov. 2013

This list couldn’t be complete without the most recognized college football rivalry:  Alabama’s Crimson Tide vs. Auburn Tigers.

As with most events on this list, it is not only the upset victory but the execution which makes this game historic. Two-time defending national champions, Alabama was favorite to make another successful season,  and as fans sat at the edge of their seats in a tied 28-28 game with only seconds to spare, Alabama decided to risk it all attempting a long field goal to try and win the Iron Bowl.

Chris Davis was the star of the show when he caught the kick and quickly sprinted across the field to score a 109-yard return touchdown to win the game and hand Alabama their first “L” of the year.

The crowd went so insane after the play that “suspicious” seismic activity was registered around the area correlating with the time of the touchdown.

7) Kobe Bryant Retires after 20-Year NBA Career - April 2016.

Remember at the beginning of this article when I mentioned how horrible 2020 has been so far? NBA legend Kobe Bryant suffered a fatal helicopter accident before the first month of the year even ended, causing all of LA to mourn his premature death and come together at the Staples Center to keep his memory alive.

Bryant retired on his own terms on April 13, 2016. During his final game against Utah Jazz, Bryant became the first NBA player to score 60 points in a retirement game. In his two-decade career, Bryant scored 33,643 points, made 8,378 free throws, and completed 4,010 turnovers-all three are records for his position.

The Lakers Organization showered Bryant with a retirement celebration and a video presentation honoring his accomplishments in the team. Though a tragic and sudden death, his legacy is cemented not only in Los Angeles but in every NBA fan's heart.

6) Colin Kaepernick Kneels During National Anthem - Aug. 2016

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became a topic of controversy when he chose to kneel during the national anthem in form of protest against social injustices towards blacks, especially police brutality. When confronted with heavy criticism from patriotic fans and relentless backlash from most media outlets, Kaepernick unapologetically stood by his beliefs. 

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive post-game interview. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The ongoing gesture caused Kaepernick to remain a free-agent the following year, with no teams signing him due to his conflicting commitment to activism in the field.  Though Kaepernick pursued legal action against the NFL, a confidential settlement was eventually reached in court. A Nike “Just Do It” ad featuring the former NFL star and many burnt Nike shoes later, Kaepernick continues to advocate for minorities of color while most NFL fans wonder if he will ever have the opportunity to return to the field in the coming years.

5) Andy Ruiz Becomes First Mexican Heavyweight Champion in One of the Biggest Upsets in Heavyweight History. - June 2019.

Looking at his physique, no one ever believed the chunky, kid-from-the-movie-Up look-alike would rise victorious against the face of U.K boxing who’s body resembled one of a Greek God. Joshua was initially scheduled to face “Big Baby” Miller in his U.S debut; however, Miller popped positive for a pharmacy list of banned substances causing Ruiz to come in as a last-minute replacement opponent. 

Ruiz, who was supposed to serve as a sacrificial lamb for Joshua to showcase heavyweight supremacy on this side of the pond, shocked the world when he sent Joshua to the canvas with a monstrous temple shot almost immediately after tasting the canvas himself in the third round of the matchup. 

Though Joshua suffered a second knockdown shortly after, he managed to survive the round and fight back until the seventh round when he went down twice again, this time with the referee waving off the bout. Ruiz jumped in the middle of the ring in celebration, making history in the Mecca of boxing by becoming the first Mexican heavyweight champion in history and handing Joshua his first defeat in such tremendous fashion. While Ruiz’s victory was short-lived; losing a snooze-fest rematch to Joshua by unanimous decision, history was still made. Whether Ruiz will bounce back after his second pro-career defeat is yet to be seen.

4) Tiger Woods wins the 2019 Masters - April 2019

David J. Phillip, The Associated Press

Golfing legend Tiger Woods redeemed the Nov. 2009 scandals almost a perfect decade apart adding another victory to his already unmatched resume winning the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Woods won his 15th major championship with a record 12 strokes.

The 44-year-old made history with such an impressive comeback especially after his third-back surgery due to injuries. Scoring his fifth Master's title ascended Woods past Arnold Palmer and placed him just one behind Jack Nicklaus for the most Green Jackets in history.

3) Chicago Cubs Win 2016 World Series - Oct. 2016

After 108 years, the Chicago Cubs put an end to their dry spell by defeating the Cleveland Indians in 10 innings 8-7 in Game 7 to win the World Series. 

Just when Cleveland thought they’d recover from blowing a 3-1 lead by tieing the game in the bottom of the eighth inning with a two-run home run by outfielder Rajai Davis, the Cubs shattered the hearts of countless Indians’ fans getting their last man out in first base after scoring one last run. 

Besides the glorious feeling of overcoming a 3-1 disadvantage, perhaps the best part of the victory was defeating the Indians in their own territory. 

Though the Cubs beat the Nationals in the NL Divisional Series the following year, they fell short to the LA Dodgers in the following round. Chicago continued to lose momentum in 2018 losing an NL wildcard game against the Colorado Rockies, to being eliminated from 2019 post-season contention against after four consecutive playoff appearances.

2) Malcolm Butler's Interception Makes Super Bowl History - Feb. 2015

Once a Popeye’s Chicken employee, Malcolm Butler’s dream of playing in the NFL not only materialized, but he immortalized his name in Super Bowl history by pulling off a game-saving, championship-winning interception in the final 25 seconds of Super Bowl XLIX to stop the Seattle Seahawks from winning their second consecutive Super Bowl.

Seahawk’s quarterback Russel Wilson could almost taste sweet victory only inches apart from the end line as he threw the ball to Ricardo Lockette, only for it to be intercepted by the underrated Patriot rookie to pull the upset and give Tom Brady another ring. 

After participating in the Pro Bowl following the 2015 season and capturing another Super Bowl title in 2016, Butler’s time as a Patriot turned bittersweet when he was benched in Super Bowl LII. Butler continues his NFL journey as Tenessee Titan’s quarterback and hopes to guide them to a title to relive Super Bowl glory.

1) Cavaliers Overcome 3-1 NBA Finals Deficit - June 2016

The Cleveland Indians are not the only ones who blew a 3-1 lead into lamentable defeat this past decade; the Golden State Warriors failed to defend their title against Cleveland Cavaliers who became the first team in NBA to overcome a 3-1 deficit in 2016. 

The Warriors were heavy favorites to capture another championship, but the Cavaliers pulled an ace out of their sleeve to remain in the cut after almost facing elimination in Oakland. Just like the MLB Chicago Cubs, the Cavaliers indulged in pleasant victory on the road and in enemy territory.  

Game 7 had fans at the edge of their seats as the score was tied with only 1:50 left in the game. After an outstanding three-pointer from Kyrie Irving and flawless execution by Lebron James, the Cavaliers secured their first championship in nearly 52 and made movie-like comeback history.

As sports fans, we can only hope COVID-19 comes and goes so we can start witnessing the moments that will highlight this upcoming decade.

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