The Most Astounding Sports Moments of My Lifetime

In the aftermath of that amazing National Championship battle between Villanova and North Carolina, I got to thinking about what a spectacular thing it is when moments like that occur in sports. It truly is the greatest unscripted drama available on the planet. This is my 37th year on Earth, so I decided to take a look back on the 37 moments in sports that were the most memorable, meaningful and astounding over that time, the types of moments that make you remember exactly where you were and who you were with when they happened. In compiling this list, I took into account not only the unpredictability of the events, but also their significance. 

#37: Buster Douglas Knocks Out Mike Tyson (1990)

People forget how truly invincible Tyson was during this time period. Douglas came into this fight as a huge underdog; odds in Vegas were 42-1. This wasn’t a horse race with some ten other contenders entered, this was a fight between two people, and he was 42-1. Just think about that for a moment. Still, he wore down Tyson throughout the fight and eventually delivered an uppercut followed by four quick punches in the 10th round that knocked out the champ. This wasn’t a decision, Douglas actually knocked Tyson unconcious in this stunner. 

 

#36: Kerri Strug Vaults US To Gold On One Leg (1998)

This was the perfect example of unscripted drama. With the US Women’s Gymnastics team holding a narrow lead over the favored Russians heading into the final rotation on vault, the team began to falter. Strug fell and injured her ankle on her first vault, and since teammate Dominique Moceanu had fallen as well, Strug needed to land one final vault in order to clinch the gold. In a gritty effort, she landed the vault on one leg before saluting the judges and collapsing in pain, which was enough to secure the first ever Women’s Gymnastics gold for the US. 

#35: Bryce Drew Upsets Ole Miss (1998)

The #13 seeded Valparaiso Crusaders trailed the #4 seed Ole Miss by two points with just 2.5 seconds left and had the ball underneath their opponent’s basket. Inbounder Jamie Sykes threw a baseball pass beyond the half court line, which Bill Jenkins quickly caught and passed in one motion to a trailing Bryce Drew, who drilled a three for the win. This play is remembered less for its significance than it is for its impeccable execution and situational difficulty, as well as the fact that the underdog hero Drew was coached by his father Homer. 

#34: U.S. Reed Beats The Buzzer From Halfcourt (1980)

Until 2016, this was the only half-court buzzer beater in NCAA Tournament history. Trailing defending champion Louisville by two points after the Cardinals had hit a go ahead bucket with five seconds left, U.S. Reed let fly a desperation heave from midcourt that hit nothing but the bottom of the net as time expired, and Arkansas prevailed by one. 

#33: Northern Iowa Half Court Bank Shot, Northern Iowa Blows 12 Point Lead in Final 44 Seconds (2016)

These two events deserve to be paired together, as they occurred less than 48 hours apart, and such a juxtaposition of good luck and bad luck against two teams from the same state is almost impossible to comprehend. The first game was a back and forth affair against Texas. Trailing by two and with ten seconds remaining, the Longhorns drove into the lane and tied the game with a runner, and overtime appeared imminent. But with just 2.7 seconds left on the clock, Northern Iowa’s Paul Jesperson launched a half-court prayer that banked in for a most improbable win. Two nights later, Northern Iowa led favored Texas A&M by 12 points with 44 seconds left, a 99.99% win probability. Nevertheless, a series of incredibly ill-advised decisions as the Aggies pressured the in-bounds passes led to a double overtime loss. Mathematically speaking, this has to be considered the greatest collapse in the history of the tournament, if all of sports

#32: Christian Watford Beats Kentucky (2011)

This game may not seem as significant to those outside of Hoosier Nation since this was non-tournament game played in December. But for these young Hoosiers and their legion of fans, this was the game that turned the entire program around, and arguably prevented arch rival Kentucky from an undefeated season, which would have unseated the 1976 Hoosiers as the last to do so. It is easy to forget after all of the hoopla regarding the 2015 Wildcats that this was actually the superior unit, and had Christian Watford’s trailing buzzer beater not gone in on this night, Kentucky may well have been more focused in their only other loss before winning it all, the SEC Championship to Vanderbilt.

#31: Spurs Meltdown in NBA Finals (2013)

With a 3-2 series lead in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Miami, the Spurs found themselves up 5 with 28 seconds left. A series of events that included a LeBron James three and a Kawhi Leonard missed free throw gave the Heat one last shot to tie the game in the closing seconds. James missed the three this time, but Chris Bosh came up with a huge offensive rebound and passed to the sharp-shooter Ray Allen, who drained a corner three with 5.2 seconds remaining to tie the game. The Heat won in overtime, and took Game 7 to win the Championship two nights later. 

#30: Adam Vinatieri Kicks Super Bowl Winning Field Goal (2002)

As pressure situations go, I’ve always been of the opinion that field goal kickers have the most thankless job imaginable. To me, it seems infinitely more difficult to kick a ball into the air and through an elevated goal from 100+ feet away than it is to knock down a free throw with the game on the line. Vinatieri’s 48 yard field goal as time expired gave the Patriots their first Super Bowl in 2002, beginning somewhat of a dynasty for the franchise. Two years later, he made one from 41 yards in the same situation, and to this day is the only kicker to be the deciding factor in two Super Bowls. 

#29: Luis Gonzalez World Series Walk-Off Single (2001)

The Arizona Diamondbacks became a franchise in 1997, and it didn’t take long for them to earn their first championship, thanks to this amazing upset against the far more history-rich New York Yankees. The usually invincible Mariano Rivera was unable to hold a 2-1 lead in the 9th inning after surrendering a double to Tony Womack. Eventually Luis Gonzalez came to the plate with the bases loaded, and lofted a softly hit blooper over Derek Jeter’s head and into the outfield for the walk-off Game 7 win. Inconceivable. 

#28: Kordell Stewart Hail Mary Pass to Michael Westbrook in the Big House (1994)

An epic pre-conference battle between #4 Michigan and #7 Colorado ended in thrilling fashion when trailing 26-21 with enough time for just a single play, Buffaloes quarterback Kordell Stewart launched a 64-yard desperation pass into the end zone. The pass was deflected by receiver Blake Anderson and into the hands of Michael Westbrook, who secured it for the soul-crushing win in the Big House. I watched this game with a Michigan fan who was reduced to tears by the outcome. 

#27: Michael Phelps Beats Cavic For 7th Gold Medal (2008)

What made this race so memorable wasn’t necessarily that Phelps won it, but rather the way that he won it and its significance. Rival Serbian Milorad Cavic held a massive 0.62 second lead over Phelps at the halfway mark, but Phelps dug in and closed the gap steadily towards the finish. Cavic attempted to coast into the wall while Phelps took an extra half stroke, and the two appeared to touch the wall at the exact same time. The official results showed that Phelps touched the wall 0.01 second sooner, giving him the gold. Despite a Serbian protest and a bit of controversy, the result was upheld, and Phelps earned his 7th gold medal of the Beijing games, tying Mark Spitz’s record, and allowing him to set a new one when he won his 8th a night later with the 4 x 100 Medley Relay Team. Phelps swam the butterfly leg. 

#26: Brandi Chastian Wins Women’s World Cup For USA (1999)

In a captivating moment that both elevated interest women’s sports in general and brought soccer to the forefront of national pride, Brandi Chastain scored the fifth kick in a penalty shootout over China to give the US its first World Cup. In an act of “momentary insanity”, Chastain ripped off her jersey and collapsed to her knees in a black sports bra, an image that became iconic in the aftermath.

#25: Mario Chalmers Ties The National Championship (2008)

In a classic example of why it’s important to hit your free throws, Memphis held a 9 point lead with 2:12 to play in the National Championship, but couldn’t seal the deal. They missed four of five free throws to end the game, and Kansas miraculously found themselves down just 3 with the ball and 10.8 seconds remaining. Point guard Sherron Collins nearly threw the ball away, but a cutting Mario Chalmers corraled it and nailed an ice-cold three to tie the game. The Jayhawks rode this momentum to absolutely obliterate the Tigers in overtime in route to their third National Championship. 

#24: Reggie Miller Scores Eight Points In Nine Seconds (1995)

The intense rivalry between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers felt almost like a rite of spring for the better part of the 1990s, and this was its defining event. Trailing by six with 18 seconds remaining in Madison Square Garden, the Pacers inbounded to Reggie Miller, who promptly knocked down a quick three to cut the lead in half. Miller then stole the in bounds pass, and instead of driving to the hoop, actually gathered himself and ran back behind the perimeter, turned and buried another three to tie the game. The Pacers made a mistake to foul John Starks on the in bounds pass, but Starks choked and missed both free throws. Miller rebounded after Patrick Ewing failed to convert on an offensive rebound, and was fouled in the process, and then sank both free throws to seal the win. The game is remembered not only for this shocking comeback, but for the energy created by the constant trash talk between Miller and Spike Lee, who was seated courtside. 

#23: Vince Young Scrambles to Win National Championship (2006)
 

In what is widely considered the greatest game in College Football history, Texas beat two-time defending AP champion USC, who entered the game on a 34-game winning streak. Trailing 38-32 and facing a 4th and 5 from the USC 9 yard line late in the game, quarterback Vince Young found his receivers covered and had no choice but to make a run for it. He received a crucial block from Justin Blalock and bolted into the end zone to win the National Championship. It was a fitting end to legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson’s career. 

#22: The Catch: Montana To Clark (1982)

Those old enough to actual remember this play live probably have it ranked higher than I do. In the NFC Championship, the 49ers faced a 3rd and 3 from the 6 yard line late in the game. A blown play forced quarterback Joe Montana toward the sideline as the Cowboys pass rush bore down hard. Montana pumped faked and threw and errant pass towards the back of the endzone, which receiver Dwight Clark pulled out of the sky to secure the win. Montana admitted in the aftermath that he could not see Clark, but knew where he would be. In terms of signifance, this play is remembered as a passing of the torch from Dallas to San Francisco in terms of NFC control. 

#21: Fiesta Bowl Trickery (2007)

In one of the wildest college football games ever, mid-major Boise State pulled off a shocking upset over heavyweight Oklahoma. The series of trick plays began with a hook and lateral touchdown on 4th and 18 from the 50 that tied the game and forced overtime. That play would have been amazing in and of itself, but when Boise State scored converted on 4th and 2 for what would have been another tying touchdown, head coach Chris Peterson opted to go for the jugular and lined up for a two point conversion for the win. The Broncos then ran another trick play, “The Statue of Liberty”, and with a bit of slight of hand, quarterback Jared Zabransky handed off to Ian Johnson, who raced into the endzone for the win. In the post-game interview, Johnson dropped to one knee and proposed to his cheerleader girlfriend, adding to the mass-hysteria. Besides the entertainment value provided by such unorthodox play-calling, this game is remembered as the turning point for when mid-major programs announced their arrivals as foes to be taken seriously. 

#20: Scott Norwood Wide Right (1991)

The Buffalo Bills lost their first of four consecutive Super Bowl appearances when Norwood’s 47-yard kick veered way wide right, never even providing a moment’s suspense in regard to its accuracy. Norwood had not been a successful long-range kicker and arguably took more slack than he deserved, having a career long of only 48 yards and missing all four of his other prior attempts beyond 40. In the next three years, the Bills lost the Super Bowl by 13, 35 and 17 points respectively, making this 1 point loss more and more painful for the city as time went on. Buffalo has not won a major sports championship since 1965, and this missed kick becomes more and more of a punchline for that futility as time goes on.

#19: David Ortiz Keeps Red Sox Alive (2004)

In arguably the greatest series comeback in sports history, the Boston Red Sox overcame a 3-0 ALCS deficit against the arch rival New York Yankees in route to their first World Series Championship since 1918. But before that happened, the Red Sox had to force a Game 5 as they headed to the bottom of the 9th trailing 4-3 in Game 4. Ace reliever Mariano Rivera walked Kevin Millar to start the inning, and pinch-runner Dave Roberts successfully stole second after three pick-off attempts by Rivera. Roberts scored to force extra innings on the subsequent single by Bill Mueller. David “Big Papi” Ortiz won the game with a two run blast in the 12th, and the rest is history. 

#18: Doug Flutie Hail Mary Beats Miami (1985)

This was a true win for the “little guy” in every sense of the word, as this miracle play both elevated underdog Boston College back to national prominence and catapulted diminutive quarterback Doug Flutie to a Heisman Trophy win. Defending champion Miami held a 45-41 lead as Boston College lined up for one final play from midfield. Flutie narrowly averted a sack and had to run backwards some 15 yards before heaving the ball into a 30 mph wind towards the end zone. The Miami secondary allowed Gerard Phelan to run behind them and the ball landed in his arms for a stunning win.

#17: Santonio Holmes Super Bowl Catch (2009)

This was a highly entertaining Super Bowl from start to finish between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers. James Harrison returned an interception 100 yards at the end of the half to give the Steelers the lead, but the Cardinals stormed back on a 64 yard touchdown reception by Larry Fitzgerald to take the lead with 2:34 to play. But Big Ben Rothelisberger marched the Steelers down the field and connected with Santonio Holmes, who made an unbelievable shoestring catch in the endzone to deliver a sixth Super Bowl to Pittsburgh.

#16: American Pharoah Wins The Belmont Stakes (2015)

Fans of horse racing had been waiting since Affirmed’s 1978 campaign for a Triple Crown winner, and had suffered through 13 failed attempts since then. Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah entered the Belmont Stakes with a strong shot to break that drought off a dominating 7 length win over the slop in the Preakness. The professional, once-in-a-lifetime colt left no doubt as he won the Belmont by an authoritative 5 lengths to become the sport’s 12th Triple Crown winner and the only one of my lifetime. He also became the sport’s only Grand Slam winner later that year when he won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and displayed similar dominance in doing so. 

#15: Steve Bartman Interferes With Moises Alou (2003)

The Chicago Cubs had not won a World Series since 1908 or even competed in one since 1945, but they held a 3-2 NLCS advantage at home and took a 3-0 lead into the top of the 8th inning. With one out and a man on second base, Luis Castillo hit a foul ball down the left field line. Cubs left-fielder Moises Alou attempted to make a play on the ball, but a fan named Steve Bartman who was seated on the wall reached to catch it as well, deflecting it away from Alou, who failed to secure it for the second out. Alou’s belligerent reaction in particular seemed to put the team’s chemistry out of whack immediately. Ivan Rodriguez singled to drive in a run following the Bartman play, but the Cubs still should have been out of the inning with a 3-1 lead on the next play as Miguel Cabrera hit an easy double play ball to shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Alas, Gonzalez booted the ball, and the Marlins went on to score 8 runs that inning before clinching the series at Wrigley Field in Game 7 the following night.

#14: Michael Jordan’s Last Shot As A Bull (1998)

The Chicago Bulls won their sixth World Championship in eight years as the legendary Michael Jordan sunk a deep jumper from just inside the three-point line to seal the win and cap off an incredible 45 point performance. Jordan appeared to clearly push off on Bryon Russell to create space for the shot after crossing over, but no offensive foul was called by the officials. In all seriousness, how could it have been? This was Michael Jordan, the greatest to ever play the game, hitting a championship winning shot in his final game as a Bull. That’s a “play on” 100 times out of 100. 

#13: The Band Is On The Field (1982)

I laugh out loud every single time I see this play. If this list was ranked in order of the most preposterous sports moments, this would probably be at the top. The combination of so many lateral passes (there were five) with the stunning lack of awareness of the Stanford band just created such a chaotic, hilarious conclusion to this game, which was spearheaded when Cal’s Kevin Moen barreled into Stanford trombone player Gary Tyrrell in the end zone while still carrying the football. The fact that this most unlikely series of events came in such a huge rivarly game in star quarterback John Elway’s last home game and that the loss came at the hands of the home team adds to its status as one of the most astonishing finishes in college football history. 

#12: Music City Miracle (2000)

As lateral passes go, the Stanford-Cal game was more ridiculous, but the implications of a similar play on the professional level in a playoff game no less simply hit a lot harder. Trailing 16-15 with 16 seconds left, the Tennessee Titans lined up to receive a kickoff from the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card Round. The Titans’ Lorenzo Neal retrieved the kick and handed it behind him to tight end Frank Wycheck, who started to scramble to his right but then stopped and threw a lateral pass across his body to Kevin Dyson, who was planted firmly on the sideline. Dyson then ran 75 yards into the end zone to deliver a shocking home victory. 

#11: Kirk Gibson Pinch-Hit Home Run In World Series (1988)

In Game 1 of the World Series, injured NL MVP Kirk Gibson entered the game as a pinch-hitter as the Dodgers trailed the Oakland A’s 4-3 with two outs and one man on in the bottom of the 9th. AL save leader Dennis Eckersley was on the mound for Oakland, and quickly put Gibson in an 0-2 hole. After looking at three balls to bring the count to full, Gibson was looking for a backdoor slider based on a scouting report he had been provided on Eckersley. Gibson got that exact pitch, and when he did, he crushed it over the right field wall and won the game for the Dodgers. The image of Gibson limping around the bases and giving two distinctive fist pumps became an iconic one. Gibson would not make another plate appearance for the rest of the series, but the Dodgers rode the Game 1 momentum to capture the World Series in five games. 

#10: Keith Smart Shot (1987)

In what was one of the most entertaining, back and forth Championship Games of all time, Syracuse really had no excuse to lose this game, but they couldn’t hit their free throws down the stretch, and this enabled Keith Smart to score the last six points for the Hoosiers, which was enough to deliver a fifth National Championship. Howard Triche went 1 of 2 on a trip to the line late and Derrick Coleman missed the front end of a 1 and 1 that the Orangemen strangely did not line up to rebound, and the Hoosiers found themselves down 1 with the ball and 28 seconds remaining. Indiana wisely held for the last shot, and as Smart threw a jump pass inside to forward Daryl Thomas, he paused briefly before cutting sharply to receive the give and go, and knocked down a baseline jumper while still in motion. Syracuse was so shell-shocked that they failed to call time out, leaving just one second on the clock, and not enough time to run a designed play. (Big East Homer Billy Packer is so upset that Syracuse lost that he can’t even focus on the shot itself).

 

#9: Bill Buckner’s Error (1986)

Before the 2004 team finally reversed the curse, this was the play that buried the hopes of the entire franchise in the wake of the Championship drought that lingered since the 1918 season and the parting of ways with Babe Ruth. With the Red Sox leading the World Series 3-2 against the Mets, they entered the bottom of the 10th inning with a 2 run lead and a championship in sight. However, three straight two out singles allowed the Mets to tie the game again. Mookie Wilson then hit a slow roller down the first base line that Bill Buckner badly misplayed, as the ball rolled to the left of his glove and through his legs, allowing the winning run to score. The Mets would win Game 7 and the World Series, and Buckner was absolutely lampooned as the scapegoat for what became the most significant error in Major League history. 

#8: Patriots Goal-Line Interception (2015)

In a wild, emotional roller-coaster of a game, the Patriots overcame a 10 point second half deficit to take a 28-24 lead on a Tom Brady pass to Julian Edelman with 2:02 left to play. With time winding down on Seattle, quarterback Russell Wilson threw a deep pass to Jermaine Kearse, which was tipped but eventually caught by the receiver while he was laying on his back in an incredible turn of events. Marshawn Lynch ran the ball just short of the goal line on the next play, and the Seahawks appeared to be in business, sitting on 2nd down and goal inside the 1 yard line. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll opted for a risky slant pass play despite having one of the league’s best backs in Lynch at his disposal, but New England was ready for it, and cornerback Malcolm Butler stepped in front of the pass and picked it off on the goal line, sealing the Super Bowl win for the Patriots. The play-call was the subject of endless debate and is widely regarded as one of the worst decisions in NFL history. 

#7: Joe Carter World Series Walk-Off Home Run (1993)

Walk-Off home runs are a rare enough thing in an ordinary baseball game (about 2% of games end this way), let alone on the sport’s biggest stage, and this is the only time one has resulted in a World Series win in my lifetime. The Toronto Blue Jays led the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 in the 1993 World Series, but trailed Game 6 by a score of 6-5 heading into the bottom of the 9th. Phillies closer Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams began the inning by walking Rickey Henderson, and then gave up a single to Paul Molitor. With one out, Joe Carter sent a low, inside pitch from Williams to deep left field off a 2-2 count. It left the stadium and brought home the Championship to Toronto for a second consecutive year.

#6: Miracle On Ice (1980)

Those older than me or that may be bigger hockey fans than me will probably have this higher, but I can certainly appreciate its significance, especially in the Cold War era. In the 1980 Winter Olympics, the US knocked off the Soviets, who had won 6 of the previous 7 gold medals, in the semifinal round, scoring two goals in the final period for a 4-3 comeback win. It is hard to quantify the enormity of this upset, but it is widely considered one of the largest in sports history, somewhere along the lines of what at 16 seed beating a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament would be considered, if it ever happens. A long-lasting source of national pride, this win lives on through Al Michaels’ immortal call, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” The US would go on to win the gold medal. 

#5: NC State Alley-Oop For The National Championship (1983)

This was a classic David vs. Goliath matchup, as the fearsome Phi Slamma Jamma talent of Houston was far superior to the 6th seeded Wolfpack. But NC State stuck to the game plan, and found themselves in position to hold for the last shot in a tie game. Houston applied intense pressure and NC State nearly turned the ball over twice. The second time, Charlie Wittingham overplayed the dribble to avoid the steal to such an extent that he found himself well beyond his range as time ran down, and had no choice but to throw up a desperation heave. He left it well short and Houston, presumably believing they were heading to overtime, had no one near the basket. The Wolfpack’s Lorenzo Charles grabbed the airball and slammed it home as time expired to win a most improbably championship, and one of the greatest upsets in sports history. 

#4: Marcus Paige and Kris Jenkins Trade Buzzer Beaters (2016)

There’s no telling how the last ten seconds of this year’s National Championship will be viewed in time, but even while still as fresh as it is, it is undeniably the greatest moment of my lifetime in a title game. It gets the edge over the NC State win simply because it featured two incredible last second shots rather than one. After a courageous comeback from a 10 point deficit following the under four minute timeout, North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit an unbelievable three to tie the game, having to jump awkwardly and hang into the air after Villanova big man Daniel Ochefu made a desperation dive for the ball. With 4.7 seconds left and the game tied, all eyes turned to Villanova senior point guard Ryan Arcidiacano, who everyone in the building had to believe would take the final shot. However, he did what seniors do after realizing he had dribbled into double coverage, and found a trailing Kris Jenkins, who knocked down a wide open three from NBA range at the buzzer to bring Villanova its first championship since 1985. 

#3: David Tyree Helmet Couch in Super Bowl (2008)

The significance of this phenomenal upset cannot be understated. The 2007 New England Patriots entered the Super Bowl with an undefeated record and looked to achieve the first perfect season since the 1973 Miami Dolphins. But the stout defense of the New York Giants frustrated Tom Brady and company all night, and kept the game close in a low scoring affair. Trailing 14-10 late in the game, Eli Manning was forced out of the pocket and all but sacked on 3rd and 5 and threw up a prayer pass which David Tyree caught against his helmet as he fell backwards for the first down. New York scored on the following play and dealt New England a crushing defeat, the likes of which the city of Boston will probably never get over. 

#2: Iron Bowl Kick Six (2013)

What makes sports so amazing is that it has the ability to create scenarios that were previously unimaginable. When something happens that no one has ever seen before, that is when you realize you have witnessed something truly astounding. When Chris Davis returned a missed Alabama field goal 100 yards to win the game, many football fans watching the game may have been unaware that such a return was even possible in terms of the rules. This game had it all. The rivalry aspect, the significance aspect (Auburn earned the right to advance to the SEC Championship and subsequently, the National Championship) and the element of astonishment to a superhuman degree. But what many forget is that such a finish never should have happened to begin with, which adds to the irony of it all. In a moment of weakness, Alabama head coach Nick Saban got greedy and made a giant error. The game was heading to overtime, but Saban wanted one second put back on the clock, and after a review, the officials agreed. Kicking a 57 yard field goal in that situation was a pretty bad decision from a risk/ return standpoint, but it gave us what I believe was the most astounding moment in the history of the sport. 

#1: The Laettner Shot (1992)

It may be controversial to place this at the top of the list ahead of game winning shots in National Championship games since this was merely a regional final. But consider the following: This was probably the greatest college basketball game ever played even before Christian Laettner hit the shot. These were two blue blood programs, one of which was the defending champion, and both had scored triple digits in back and forth fashion. Also consider the difficulty of the final shot relative to the other games on this list. Grant Hill had to throw a perfect baseball pass across halfcourt to the free line to Laettner, who Kentucky had to know was going to get the ball if Duke had it their way. Then, Laettner had the composure and presence of mind to realize he had enough time to take a dribble and get his feet set after he caught the ball. He drilled the jumper from behind the free throw line to complete a perfect 10-10 shooting performance, and pandemonium ensued. Duke went on to win the title, one of only two repeat champions during my lifetime.

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