When the sports world came to a stop a few weeks ago, one of the first questions in sports television was what networks would do to fill the airtime that had previously been devoted to games. That question was answered quickly when many time slots were filled with reruns of classic games.
CBS has been airing some of the most legendary NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games. Professional leagues such as the NBA and NFL have made classic games available for free on their streaming and television channels. EPSN has aired classic games and filled SportsCenter with retro highlights. Even NBC Sports Chicago is filling White Sox airtime with games from the 2005 World Series season.
The nostalgia that has come along with these classic games has brought back some memories, both good and bad. Combining that with the fact we eventually will comeback from this devastating time, I thought it would be fitting to take a look at some of the best comebacks in sports in recent memory.
The Cubs break the curse
After more than 100 years of waiting and many heartbreaks, the Chicago Cubs finally were able to lift the Curse of the Billy Goat as they went on to win the 2016 World Series against the Cleveland Indians. It took seven spectacular games, including an extra-inning win in the deciding Game 7, but the Cubbies were able to get it done.
The win erased all the painful memories, such as the Steve Bartman incident in the 2003 National League Championship Series and the 1984 Leon Durham debacle, also in the NLCS. And they did it all in poetic fashion. The Cubs erased a 3-1 series lead to triumphantly stage an extra-inning comeback on the road after a rain delay.
LeBron brings a title to Cleveland
At this point, LeBron James’ resume speaks for itself. His career highlight reel could go on for hours, if not days. Yet, the play that almost always will begin that tape happens to be his most consequential.
With less than two minutes left in a Game 7 on the road, LeBron chased Warriors forward Andre Iguodala down the entire court to block his layup attempt, saving an easy bucket. Along with a late 3-pointer by teammate Kryie Irving, that block helped secure LeBron’s title hopes for Cleveland.
Not only was LeBron going up against a team that had gone 73-9 in the regular season, the best NBA regular season ever, but he also was going up against the first unanimous MVP in Stephen Curry. LeBron did the unthinkable and became the first team to come back from trailing 3-1 in the NBA Finals, winning his third title of his career.
It also ended a 50-plus year drought for the city of Cleveland, winning a title for his hometown team six summers after deserting them for the sandier pastures of Miami.
Brady’s biggest comeback
Halfway through the third quarter of Super Bowl LI, it looked as though the New England Patriots’ dynasty was crumbling. They trailed Atlanta 28-3 with just a quarter and a half to play and showed no signs of coming back. Yet, as they always do, the Patriots found a way to score 25 unanswered points, including two converted 2-point attempts, to force overtime.
From there, the writing was on the wall for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to steal a victory from the Falcons. Brady led the game-winning touchdown drive in overtime before Atlanta even got to touch the ball. The incredible comeback only added to Brady’s legacy as he went on to win his fifth Lombardi trophy for the most all-time Super Bowl wins, surpassing Joe Montana for first place.
Tiger recaptures the green jacket
At one point, Tiger Woods was arguably the most dominant athlete on the planet. From 1997-2008 Woods had gone on to win 14 major PGA tournaments, putting him second all-time behind Jack Nicklaus (18 wins) for most major championships won. He was on top of the sporting world; he was what people call “box office” and everyone, from die-hard fan to casual consumer, had to tune in and watch him.
That all lasted until 2009 when Woods was caught in his infamous infidelity scandal and crashed his car while driving under the influence. Right then and there, he lost his wife, sponsorships and his dignity. Along with losing everything, Tiger began to have some serious injury problems that took him in-and-out of golf.
But Tiger kept pushing, and it paid off last spring at Augusta, when he put on a show to remember. On the last day of the Masters Tournament, golf’s most prestigious event, Woods overcame a two-stroke deficit to capture his first major title in more than 10 years.
Not only did this comeback victory put Woods back on the map, it was also his first career major victory after trailing on the final day. All of Tiger’s 14 previous major championship wins came when he either was tied or in the lead going into the final day. It was a true comeback, both in terms of the tournament and his career as a whole.
Ray Allen’s biggest shot in his biggest moment
Down five points with 28 seconds left at home in an elimination game of the 2013 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat looked as though they were not going to be able to repeat as back-to-back NBA champions. With the San Antonio Spurs up late, Heat fans started making their way to the parking lot early, and NBA officials even began wheeling out the championship in preparation for a Spurs title ceremony, roping off the stands in the process.
But after uncharacteristic missed free throws by Manu Ginobli and Kawhi Leonard sandwiched a second-chance 3-pointer from LeBron James, Ray Allen hit one of the most memorable shots in basketball history.
With about 9 seconds left, Heat forward Chris Bosh grabbed a rebound off of a LeBron miss and kicked it out to the sharpshooter Allen for a game-tying corner 3-pointer with 5 seconds left.
The Heat then went on to win Game 6, 103-100 in overtime, before going on to win the title in seven games, earning the Heat’s second championship in three years. The incredible shot by Allen perhaps saved LeBron’s legacy, and he forever will be one of the more clutch shooters of all-time.