10. World Cup Finals, 2006: One of the most controversial and close finishes to a World Cup tournament ever. A game that started seemingly normal, until French icon, Zinedine Zidane, lost his temper and head-butted Italian defender Marco Materazzi, causing the French captain to be ejected from the game. His resulting retirement proved to be one of deep regret and disappointment. The match went all the way to penalties, where Italy won it and the title.
9. U.S. Open, 2008: Ahh, the good ol’ days of Tiger Woods. Woods came into the tournament without playing a full round in over two months, due to an ailing knee injury, but managed to hobble around the course and beat Rocco Mediate in a playoff. Woods announced that he would miss the rest of the season due to a knee surgery just two days after the win, and called it “the greatest tournament I’ve ever had.”
8. Michael Phelps, 2008 Olympics: Phelps’ record is still astonishing. He picked up eight golds in Beijing for his swimming dominance, and was only really challenged in one race. In all honesty, this should probably be ranked higher but Canada’s general dislike for the smug bastard lands him here.
7. Malice At The Palace, 2004: It was arguably the greatest disaster in the NBA’s history. With about 45 seconds left in a game between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers, a shoving match began between the Pistons’ Ben Wallace and Pacers’ Ron Artest. A huge confrontation erupted, and fans began throwing litter on the court. One fan hit Artest in the face with a Diet Coke, causing Artest and many of the other Pacers to charge into the stands and brawl with spectators. Two spectators were taken to hospital, and the game was declared over, even with time still left on the clock. Wallace and Artest’s rivalry lives on to this day. Players lost over $10-million from salaries as a result of league fines.
6. BCS National Championship, 2006: It was a story of two of the greatest sports teams meeting in the final, just the way sports should play out. Three Heisman candidates played, all of whom went on to be drafted in the first round of the NFL draft. It was Texas and USC, in one of the greatest finishes a football game has ever seen. It’s hard to forget Vince Young’s sprint into the endzone with 19 seconds left, leading Texas to the National Championship, 41-38, and snapping USC’s 34-game winning streak.
5. Heritage Classic, 2003: The experiment that led to the NHL’s annual Winter Classic. More than 57,000 fans packed Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton to watch the Oilers take on the Habs on an outdoor rink. The event started with an alumni game featuring the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Guy Lafleur. Temperatures during the game plummetted to -30 celsius, and Jose Theodore even wore a toque over his helmet. Montreal would go on to win a close and exciting game, proving to everyone the brilliance of an outdoor game.
4. Super Bowl, 2008: The New England Patriots came into the Superbowl with an undefeated season that saw them 18-0 entering the championship game. The Patriots were by far the stronger team, but New York battled with them the whole way, before David Tyree made an unbelievable catch to keep the Giants in it. This led to a touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress in the corner of the endzone to give the Giants the win, and spoil New England’s perfect season.
3. BALCO Scandal, 2003: One of the worst moments in American sports history. An anonymous call to the California District Attorney’s office led to the investigation of BALCO, a scientific laboratory. They were found to be making performance-enhancing drugs and human growth hormones. It led to players from many major leagues being revealed as using steroids, most notably Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Bill Romanowski. It was the cause of tougher steroid testing in sports, and led to the Anabolic Steroid Act, signed by President George W. Bush.
2. Usain Bolt, 2009: Bolt garnered international attention and celebrity status following his amazing performance at the 2008 Olympics. He even managed to top himself in ’09: at the World Championships in Berlin, he smashed both of his world records, setting a new one in the 100m (9.58) and the 200m (19.19).
1. American League Championship, 2004: One of the greatest rivalries in all of sports history: the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Things looked pretty bad for Sox fans, as they fell in the first three games, the last one being a 19-8 blowout. The Red Sox then did the unthinkable, however, battling back and becoming the first team in MLB history to win a series after losing the first three games. Tim Kurkjlan, an analyst for ESPN called it “the greatest baseball story ever told.” It was intensified by the Sox moving on to face an outmatched St. Louis team who they swept to win their first World Series in 86 years.