I used to love how ESPN would put together their list of the “Top 10 Games of the Year” and air it as a SportsCenter special on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, etc. A year ago, I put together my own list for the first time a year ago, and thought it would be fun to go right back to that well. I purposely left out the “Honorable Mention” section; so it is very possible I missed an absolute classic.
10-NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship: Boston University vs. Miami Ohio (April 12 Verizon Center Washington, DC)
Bemidji State might have been the story of the Frozen Four; but the Championship game was pretty amazing. Trailing 3-1, the Terriers pulled their goalie late in the 4th quarter, and managed to close the gap to 3-2 with under a minute left in the game. Unbelievably, they managed to tally a tying goal with 19 seconds to play to send the game into overtime; and eventually won the title in OT.
9-UFC “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 9 Finale: Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida (June 20 The Palms Las Vegas, NV)
Are you kidding me???
These maniacs beat the TAR out of each other for 3 rounds in an absolutely BRUTAL MMA war. There is really no doubt that this was the Fight of the Year in Mixed Martial Arts OR Boxing, even if it didn’t have the impact of a Lesnar-Mir or a Pacquiao-Cotto.
8-NHL Stanley Cup Finals Game 7: Penguins @ Red Wings (June 12 Joe Louis Arena Detroit)
No matter how a game plays out, Game 7 is always exciting. Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals is monumental. But a Stanley Cup Finals Game 7 with the drama of Wings-Pens is absolutely epic. The build-up (rematch of the Cup finals from the season before, quest for Sidney Crosby’s first Cup, Wings dynasty, etc.) was intense; the 4th quarter flurry that was stopped by Marc-Andre Fleury was heart-stopping.
7-The Open Championship (July 16-19 Turnberry Resort Ayrshire, Scotland)
Admit it. There was golf on, Tiger Woods was irrelevant-and you watched anyway. The British Open tends not to register with me because it’s ugly to look at, involves brutal golf and is played too early in the day for my liking. BUT-I watched. I watched every hole on Sunday in fact. Part of me watched because I couldn’t wait to text Drew Forrester and say “If a 59 year old wins one of your most significant events-what you are doing probably isn’t really a sport.” But as I watched, I was captivated. The drama was amazing, and Stewart Cink proved to be a deserving champion.
6-ACC Lacrosse: Maryland @ Virginia (March 28 Klockner Stadium Charlottesville, VA)
Making this game even more significant was the fact that it was seen nationally on ESPN2. There might not have been games as long as this one was….say….EVER, but there were arguably games that were played at just as high a level during the season (including the National Championship game and Towson/Hopkins for sure). However, those games may not have had the impact of this one-as it was played on a Saturday afternoon on national TV, a time that is traditional for sports viewing across the country. Maryland fans will say they got “screwed” by a bad whistle, and they might be right.
5-FINA World Championships Men’s 100 Meter Butterfly (Aug 1 Rome, ITA)
The entire week of the World Championships leading up to this race in Rome were kinda weird. Swimmers continued to wear the soon-to-be-banned scientifically advanced swimsuits, which made Michael Phelps (wearing his older Speedo suit) appear to be mortal. It also allowed Milorad Cavic to start flapping his gums about the world’s greatest swimmer, and set up for a classic. Phelps was up to the task, beating Cavic in world record time in what was the moment of the year in the world of swimming.
4-NBA Finals Game 4: Lakers @ Magic (June 11 Amway Arena Orlando, FL)
When the ball ended up in Derek Fisher’s hands at the end of this game, was ANYONE surprised these teams went to overtime? He’s starting to move into Robert Horry territory. The NBA Finals may have lacked the atmosphere and intensity that a LeBron James-Kobe Bryant matchup would have provided, but Game 4 was thrilling nonetheless and turned into a series changer.
3-Big East Tournament Quarterfinal: UConn vs. Syracuse (March 12-13 Madison Square Garden New York, NY)
If this had been a more significant game, there would have been NO DOUBT this would have been #1 on this list. The game itself was thrilling from start to finish, with Jonny Flynn and Andy Rautins playing hero for the Orange. Watching this game on a Thursday night, it was particularly disturbing because I just couldn’t bring myself to go to bed before it ended at 1:22am, knowing I had to be up just a couple hours later for my Comcast Morning Show duties.
2-Wimbledon Gentleman’s Final (July 5 All England Lawn & Tennis Club Wimbledon, ENG)
NO ONE thought Roddick-Federer would provide the drama of Federer-Nadal a year earlier. Maybe it didn’t, but it certainly didn’t fail to captivate. A 16-14 5th set would make a Taylor Dent-Vince Spadea match interesting; but it made Federer’s pursuit of Pete Sampras’ career slam record that much more surreal. This was undoubtedly the greatest single match performance of Andy Roddick’s career-which will ultimately be defined by not being quite at the level of Federer and Nadal.
1-Super Bowl XLIII (February 1 Raymond James Stadium Tampa, FL)
You saw the game. I don’t need to explain why this is number 1. Mostly because if I have to say one more nice thing about Pittsburgh I might vomit.
Flexing my mic muscles since 1983….