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9/21/2007 11:28:00 AM
Greatest Collapses in Sports History
Things are getting tense around the New York Mets. Are they headed for a historic collaspe?
Photo by AP
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com
The Bronx may be burning, but Queens isn't going so well either. As the Yankees chase the bumbling Red Sox, Los Mets continue their inexorable slide from the top of the NL East. There's still a week or so left in the baseball season, so all is not lost, at least not yet. But these collapses led us to think about the greatest collapses in sports history.
1. New York Yankees: With just three outs to go in the 2004 ALCS, holding a 3-0 lead in the series over their arch-rival Red Sox, the Yanks fell completely apart. The lost the game in extra innings, then lost the next three games in a row to allow the Sox to get to the World Series.
2. Jean Van de Velde: Back at the 1999 British Open, Van de Velde dropped 6 strokes on the final hole of the tournament to force a playoff, which he eventually lost. It took him seven years before he would win another professional tournament.
3. Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers have had enough trauma of late, what with Greg Oden's recent season-ending knee surgery, that they probably don't need to be reminded of Game Seven of the 2000 Western Conference Finals...but let's talk about it anyway! Holding a 15-point lead over the Lakers with 10 minutes to go in the fourth, the Blazers watched as Shaq and Kobe unfurled a 15-0 run and went on to win the game and series. The run was capped by the now iconic alley-oop from Kobe to Shaq. Some say that was the last assist Kobe ever recorded.
4. Minnesota Gophers: During last year's Insight Bowl, Glen Mason's Gophers went into halftime against Texas Tech holding a 35-7 lead. After scoring a field goal in the third, Minnesota allowed the Red Raiders to score 31 uncontested points to send the game to OT, where Texas Tech won, 44-41. Mason was fired soon after.
5. Detroit Red Wings: Back in 1942, the Wings were in the Stanley Cup with a 3-0 series lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs came back and won the series, making this the first time in North American pro sports a team rallied from a 3-0 deficit. Then again, it was hockey so there probably wasn't anyone watching.
What's your favorite all-time sports collapse? Let us know below...
Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
Hoary punk rockers The Sex Pistols will reunite for a one-off gig in London on Nov, 8 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their landmark album Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols. Johnny Rotten and Co. are following in the dinosaur tracks of Led Zeppelin, who will reform to play at a tribute to late Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun in London on Nov. 26. Granted, the Pistols and Zep will be missing original parts (Pistols bassist Sid Vicious passed in 1979; Zep drummer John Bonham in '80) and neither band looks like the lean, rampaging gods they once were. Zep guitarist Jimmy Page bears an unsettling resemblance to Ted Kennedy and singer Robert Plant could double as the cowardly lion. Rotten's side job could be as an undertaker. But if you could rent a time machine and bring the two bands from their 70's heyday onto the stage, well, now you're talking. So let's extend the fantasy to sports. What classic teams -- from any year -- would you love to see magically materialize and take the field today?
Here are mine. (Pardon my New York bias -- I was born and raised here. You're welcome to yours.)
1. 1982-83 New York Islanders: This edition of the dynasty brought home a fourth consecutive Stanley Cup by sweeping the Oilers of Gretzky and Messier in the finals. Ah, to see Mike Bossy's laser-like shots, Bryan Trottier's two-way grit, Denis Potvin rushing the puck, Battlin' Billy Smith hacking at anyone who dares venture near his crease, Jethro Gillies making menace, the Sutters -- "Dog" (Duane) and "Pup" (Brent) -- yappin', and my personal favorite, Dave "Bammer" Langevin, throwing booming checks on his creaky knees again. With their heart and versatility, these battle-tested Isles would be a safe bet for the Cup this season.
2. 1962 New York Mets: If only for the comic relief and chance to listen to Casey "The Ol' Perfesser" Stengel explain away another mind-blowing loss. Think about it: Marvelous Marv Throneberry, Don Zimmer, Choo Choo Coleman and 20-game loser Roger Craig all on one field!
3. 1968 New York Jets: I wonder if Broadway Joe would make any guarantees against Peyton Manning's Colts. Would be interesting to see how Indy's D would do against Namath, his Super Bowl-winning backfield of Matt Snell and Emerson Boozer and receiving corps of Hall of Famer Don Maynard, George Sauer and Pete Lammons.
4. 1986 New York Giants: I'm sure beleaguered ol' Tom Coughlin would welcome Lawrence Taylor and the Super Bowl champion Big Blue Wrecking Crew with open arms and dewy eyes. Watching the quietly dignified but bruising Mark Bavaro at tight end instead of that ironhanded meathead Jeremy Shockey would do a Jints fan's spirit good.
5. 1927 New York Yankees: Imagine the Babe, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Bob Meusel, Earl Combs and the rest of the Murderer's Row lineup taking their hacks against the Devil Rays. Ah, that's no challenge. Bring on Josh Beckett, Dice-K, Curt Schilling, and Jonathan Papelbon and let's have some fun.
See, we live in a big world, and sometimes names overlap. Here are the five all-time best shared sports names involving NFL and NBA players…
1. Kareem/Karim Abdul-Jabbar: We speak not only of the longtime Lakers center who retired as the NBA's all-time leading scorer, but also the former NFL running back. Their names weren't spelled exactly the same, but we'll include them since they're pronounced the same.
2. Steven/Stephen Jackson: The Warriors forward best known for having Ron Artest's back spells it with the "ph." The running backs for the Rams and the Panthers each spell it with a "v." Either way, you've got Steve Jackson. Three of them, actually.
3. Larry Johnson: Grandmama? Yes, but also the KC Chiefs running back.