25. Andrew Golota sparks a riot at Madison Square Garden
Polish bruiser Andrew Golota pummeled Riddick Bowe on July 11, 1996, at Madison Square Garden. However, rather than seeking a knockout, the 6-foot-4, 243-pound Golota (28-0) continually struck the 6-foot-5, 252-pound Bowe (38-1) in the groin. After his fourth infraction, referee Wayne Kelly disqualified Golota and violence immediately erupted in Gotham.
The riot that ensued primarily pitted Golota supporters against African-Americans. The situation was deemed so dire that former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani was locked in a dressing room and flanked by an entire security detail. Andrew Golota’s malevolence ignited the most frightening incident in the annals of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
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24. Evander Holyfield upsets Mike Tyson
In a bout dubbed “Finally,” Evander Holyfield overcame Mike Tyson via 11th round TKO to collect the WBA crown on November 9, 1996, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. A 6-foot-2, 215-pound Holyfield (32-3, 23 KOs) bullied a 5-foot-10, 222-pound Tyson (45-1, 39 KOs) from the opening bell and never relented. “The Real Deal” officially ended “Iron Mike” at 37 seconds of the decisive frame. Holyfield, who opened as a 25-1 underdog, shocked the boxing world and cemented one of its all-time greatest upsets.
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23. The Broncos shock the Packers
Famed signal-caller John Elway and the Denver Broncos imploded during three Super Bowl appearances in the 1980s. Eight seasons after their last failure, the Broncos earned another chance against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. The Packers, led by three-time reigning MVP Brett Favre, were installed as 11-point favorites and expected to waltz to back-to-back championships over Denver. In a stunner, a gritty Elway and brilliant Terrell Davis helped Denver upset the Packers and snap the AFC’s 13-game Super Bowl losing streak. Davis was rightfully presented with the MVP award.
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22. The 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers
The 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers are arguably the preeminent squad in the annals of college football. Tommie Frazier, Ahman Green and Lawrence Phillips formed an unstoppable triple-option attack that never scored less than 35 points during the season. The Huskers capped their historic 12-0 campaign by humiliating the Florida Gators 62-24 in the Fiesta Bowl to seize their second consecutive national title. In 1999, Sports Illustrated chose Frazier as the backup quarterback on its “NCAA Football All-Century Team.”
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21. 2007 Fiesta Bowl
In an enthralling contest, the Boise State Broncos used trickery to upend the Oklahoma Sooners at the Fiesta Bowl. Prior to the memorable showdown, bookmakers installed Oklahoma as 7.5-point favorites to manhandle the Broncos. At the end of regulation, and subsequently in overtime, former Boise State head coach Chris Petersen used ingenuity to propel his squad to an incredible 43-42 upset victory. Specifically, Petersen employed a hook-and-lateral, a Statue of Liberty play and a halfback toss to stymie the powerful Sooners.
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20. George Foreman upsets Michael Moorer
Big George Foreman secured one mammoth upset over Michael Moore on November 5, 1994. A 6-foot-2, 222-pound Moorer (35-0, 30 KOs) employed an array of jabs to outmaneuver a 6-foot-4, 250-pound Foreman (72-4, 68 KOs) and win eight of the first nine rounds of their championship prizefight.
Looking utterly outclassed in the 10th, Big George suddenly landed a flush left-right combination to Moorer’s jaw that rendered the 26-year-old woozy on the canvas and unable to regain his footing. At 45 years old, Foreman, a 3-1 underdog who hadn’t fought in 17 months, became the oldest heavyweight king in history.
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19. Super Bowl 2009
In a losing effort, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner cemented his status as an icon on the gridiron. Despite throwing for 377 yards and three touchdowns, Warner’s Cardinals fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII. With Arizona ahead 23-20 with 35 seconds remaining in the contest, decorated Steelers signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger hit wide receiver Santonio Holmes in the back corner of the end zone for the game’s decisive score. Holmes was awarded the Super Bowl MVP and Pittsburgh collected its sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy.
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18. ‘The Music City Miracle’
Before enduring a heartbreaking Super Bowl loss, the Tennessee Titans enjoyed “The Music City Miracle.” The Buffalo Bills took a 16-15 advantage over the Titans in Nashville. With 16 seconds remaining in regulation, Titans tight end Frank Wycheck received the ensuing kickoff and threw a lateral pass to Kevin Dyson. Dyson caught the ball and proceeded to run 75 yards for the game-winning score. Despite its controversial nature, “The Music City Miracle” stood and the Titans sent the Bills back to Buffalo as 22-16 losers.
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17. The Pats upset the Rams
In 2001, Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots started 0-2 with four-time Pro Bowler Drew Bledsoe under center. Fortunately for “The Genius,” a ferocious hit by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis indefinitely sidelined Bledsoe that September and he was forced to insert Tom Brady into the starting lineup. With Brady at the helm, the Patriots won the AFC East and beat the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers to advance to Super Bowl XXXVI.
Prior to competing for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the St. Louis Rams were declared 14-point favorites over the Pats. The Patriots shocked naysayers and beat the Rams 20-17 to win the title. Although many onlookers believe that Belichick’s illicit videotaping program stole this victory, New England remains one of the biggest underdogs to ever seize a title.
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16. The 1998 New York Yankees
Granted, the New York Yankees’ sweep of the overmatched San Diego Padres was somewhat anticlimactic. Regardless, when the Yankees defeated the Padres 3-0 to triumph in the 1998 World Series, history was established. The Bronx Bombers concluded that regular season 114-48 and proceeded to go 11-2 in the playoffs. Hence, with an overall mark of 125-50, the Yankees validated their greatness. Many analysts consider this version of the Bombers to be the foremost squad ever assembled on the diamond.
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15. ‘The Malice at the Palace’
“The Malice at the Palace” was one of the most horrifying incidents in the annals of North American professional sports. A minor skirmish between Detroit Pistons enforcer Ben Wallace and Indiana Pacers All-Star Ron Artest descended into the NBA’s most infamous brawl. Frighteningly, after an unruly fan hit Artest with a cup of beer, the fracas spilled into the crowd and nearly became a full-blown riot.
For attacking spectators, the Pacers’ Artest, Jermaine O’Neal, Stephen Jackson, Anthony Johnson and David Harrison pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault and battery charges roughly a month after the melee. Artest was banned for the remainder of the season and Wallace was suspended for seven games. “The Malice at the Palace” remains the ugliest evening in the association’s history.
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14. Cal Ripken
The Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire home run chase absolutely healed baseball. Nevertheless, Baltimore Orioles icon Cal Ripken Jr. stopped the sport’s profuse bleeding when he surpassed Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive games played at 2,130 on September 6, 1995.
“Tonight I stand here, overwhelmed, as my name is linked with the great and courageous Lou Gehrig,” Ripken told the crowd at Camden Yards that evening. “I’m truly humbled to have our names spoken in the same breath.”
Ripken Jr. became a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer on July 29, 2007.
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13. The indomitable 1996 Chicago Bulls
Roughly four months after the Chicago Bulls were conquered by the Orlando Magic in the 1995 playoffs, Michael Jordan arrived at training camp determined to reclaim his unrivaled status on the hardwood. The 33-year-old Jordan and Scottie Pippen were joined by Dennis Rodman in their quest to obtain a fourth crown.
The trio of Hall of Famers gelled from the outset and completed the regular season with an astounding record of 72-10. The Bulls ran the postseason and outclassed the Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Magic and Seattle SuperSonics to collect another Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. The 1995-1996 Bulls are frequently lauded as the association’s best team ever.
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12. The 2006 Rose Bowl
The Texas Longhorns dethroned the two-time defending national champion USC Trojans at the Rose Bowl on January 4, 2006. In a seesaw affair, Vince Young carried the Longhorns to a 41-38 victory over USC to claim the program’s first crown since 1970. Young, who amassed 467 total yards and three touchdowns on the ground, was named offensive player of the game. This marquee matchup is often hailed as college football’s premier title game.
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11. The 1993 World Series
The 1993 Toronto Blue Jays were an extraordinarily talented team that featured four future Hall of Famers. Toronto took a 3-1 series lead over the Phillies. However, the Phillies competed admirably and were on the cusp of forcing a Game 7. Then, with the Blue Jays down 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Joe Carter belted a three-run dinger off Phillies closer Mitch Williams to clinch back-to-back World Series championships. The boyish joy that Carter exuded as he rounded the bases remains an indelible baseball moment.
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10. The 2016 NBA Finals
The Golden State Warriors went 73-9 to establish the greatest regular season record in NBA history. After handling the Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State faced LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. The Cavaliers fell into a 3-1 series deficit before mounting a sensational comeback to secure their lone Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. James garnered MVP accolades for his spellbinding outings that June.
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9. Super Bowl 2000
The “Greatest Show on Turf” was a must-see attraction in 1999. The St. Louis Rams’ record-setting offense shamed defenses that autumn and is often mentioned as the best one ever assembled. The Rams went 13-3 and outperformed the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the postseason to advance to Super Bowl XXXIV. In the Super Bowl, Kurt Warner’s squad managed to outlast the Tennessee Titans. Specifically, linebacker Mike Jones grounded Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson at the 1-yard line as time expired in the Rams’ 23-16 triumph.
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8. The 1998 home run chase
Granted, the 1998 home run chase proved to be fraudulent. Still, at the time, the Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire competition was utterly captivating. Four seasons after the strike that crippled baseball, McGwire and Sosa resuscitated America’s pastime and elevated its popularity to uncharted heights. McGwire and Sosa both eclipsed the single-season home-run record set by Roger Maris (61). However, McGwire’s 70 dingers topped Sosa’s 66 round-trippers to win the race.
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7. Super Bowl 2015
Oddsmakers were torn and declared Super Bowl XLIX between Seattle and the New England Patriots to be a pick ’em. Bookmakers’ uncertainty proved to be prophetic and the game was ultimately decided by Carroll’s questionable decision to have Russell Wilson throw the ball from New England’s 1-yard line.
Rather than hand the ball to powerful running back Marshawn Lynch, Wilson’s pass was intercepted in the end zone by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler. The pick ended Seattle’s quest for consecutive championships and gave the Patriots their fifth Vince Lombardi Trophy this century. Tom Brady was named the game’s MVP shortly after New England’s 28-24 triumph.
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6. The 2003 ALCS
As Boston Red Sox fans say, “Aaron (expletive) Boone.” The 2003 ALCS between the Red Sox and New York Yankees was intense, gripping and simply unforgettable. In Game 7, the Sox surged to a 4-0 lead after four innings. However, the Yankees slowly battled back and, perhaps because of Grady Little’s decision to keep a tiring Pedro Martínez on the hill, knotted the score at 5-5. Then, in the bottom of the 11th inning, Boone smacked a walk-off home run to conclude the epic series.
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5. The 2004 ALCS
The New York Yankees acquired Alex Rodriguez on February 15, 2004. Curiously, roughly eight months later, the Boston Red Sox recovered from a 3-0 series deficit to defeat the Yankees and exorcise the Curse of the Bambino. After their mind-boggling comeback, the Sox proceeded to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals to capture their first World Series since 1918. David Ortiz earned ALCS MVP honors and Manny Ramirez was named the World Series’ MVP.
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4. The Giants dwarf the Patriots
The New York Giants vanquished the previously undefeated New England Patriots 17-14 to win Super Bowl XLII. Tom Brady and the Patriots dominated, and embarrassed, their opponents throughout 2007 and entered the star-studded finale as 12-point favorites. However, in a surprising twist, Big Blue’s defense outmuscled the Patriots’ line and bullied Brady. Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning iced the colossal upset when he tossed a game-winning touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds remaining.
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3. Michael Jordan hits ‘The Shot’
Age, injuries and internal bickering made the 1997-1998 season a somewhat trying one for the Chicago Bulls. Despite the aforementioned issues, the “UnbeataBulls” still finished that campaign 62-20 and advanced to play the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals. With the Bulls leading Utah 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, Michael Jordan nailed an iconic jumper over Bryon Russell in the game’s waning seconds to clinch the organization’s second three-peat of the 1990s. The Bulls’ dynasty ended that evening in Salt Lake City and the franchise hasn’t won a championship since.
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2. The 2016 Chicago Cubs
Nothing, not the Curse of the Billy Goat nor memories of Steve Bartman, could stop the 2016 Chicago Cubs. The Cubs went 103–58-1 to clinch the National League Central Division title that summer. In October, the North Siders outperformed the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers to qualify for their first World Series since 1908.
In a Fall Classic for the ages, the Cubs showed grittiness, recovered from a 3-1 hole, and outlasted the Cleveland Indians to procure their first Commissioner’s Trophy in 108 years. Ben Zobrist was named the World Series’ MVP for his stellar efforts against the Tribe.
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1. Mike Tyson bites Evander Holyfield’s ears
Approximately eight months after their exhilarating first encounter, Evander Holyfield defended the WBA title against Mike Tyson on June 28, 1997. Tyson (45-2, 39 KOs) was determined to avenge his loss to Holyfield (33-3, 24 KOs) and he ferociously charged the champion from the get-go. Yet again, “Iron Mike” failed miserably to intimidate “The Real Deal” and his frustration became palpable.
To compound matters, referee Mills Lane ruled that a Holyfield headbutt that bloodied Tyson’s right eye was accidental. An incensed Tyson sought retaliation and savagely bit both of Holyfield’s ears in the third round. Lane disqualified Tyson before the fourth round commenced and boxing’s most notorious evening came to a bizarre conclusion.
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