Although nothing quite beats the electric excitement of being there, watching a huge sporting event on TV is the next best way of making sure you don’t miss out on history in the making. From seemingly impossible wins to athletic performances of the highest caliber, the TV has been there to relay some of the most iconic and memorable sporting moments of all time.
Take, for example, a truly unforgettable moment in NBA history when Michael Jordan landed what was to forever become known as “the shot.” Replayed on television hundreds of times since, the legendary basket played a hugely integral role in the fortunes of both NBA franchises. The Cleveland Cavaliers had dominated much of the late 1980s and were more than ready to take on the challenge of winning the coveted NBA title. With Jordan leading the relatively inexperienced opposition, the Chicago Bulls were set to take on the Cavs in one of the most memorable basketball games of all time. As the game came down to the closing seconds, Jordan dribbled toward the key and rose up inside the circle. Craig Ehlo jumped to block the shot, but Jordan appeared to hang in mid-air until Ehlo had cleared the way, allowing him to land the ball in the basket and win the game.
A fine example of the ability of an athlete to power through injury is Tiger Woods’ exceptional performance at the 2008 U.S. Open. Though he did not mention the severity of his injury at the time, Woods played the U.S. Open at San Diego’s Torrey Pines with torn knee ligaments and two microfractures in his left leg. Incredibly, he made two clutch putts on the 18th hole two days in a row, the first forcing a playoff with Rocco Mediate and the second to keep the playoff going. Woods’ win was embraced by a rapturous applause on the 19th hole, after which he went in for reconstructive surgery on his damaged leg.
It turns out that 2008 is a particularly good vintage for sporting achievements as this was also the year that Michael Phelps won a staggering eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympic Games. His win was wholly reliant on a clutch performance by U.S. teammate Jason Lezak in the 400-meter freestyle relay. On the start of the anchor leg, Lezak and his fellow Americans were behind the French team, which featured a world-record holder in the 100-meter freestyle, Alain Bernard. Despite the French lead, Lezak powered through the final length just managing to catch Bernard at the wall. This relay leg went down in history as the fastest of all time with Lezak recording a time of 46.06 and the American team set a world record for three minutes 8.24 seconds.
Another stand-out moment in sporting history was the epic U.S. Open Tennis match between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras in 2001. In some respects, this rivalry was one-sided, as Sampras had held a 20-win advantage over Agassi in the 34 times they faced off. However, the contrast between Agassi’s baseline game and Sampras’ serve-and-volley style at a time when both iconic American players were at the very top of their game, made for some of the most intense tennis ever witnessed. Agassi’s exceptional play and precision serve kept Sampras off-balance for much of the match, but Sampras ended up walking away with a very close four-set win.
An article about memorable sporting moments wouldn’t be complete without a mention of one of the most brutal football matches in history. In 2014, Brazil faced Germany in the first semi-final match of the FIFA World Cup. With both teams coming into the competition with undefeated records, millions tuned in from all over the globe to find out the outcome. Brazil was feeling the absence of an injured key player and captain Thiago Silva, absences which resulted in their first competitive home defeat in 39 years along with their biggest World Cup defeat. Germany was up 5-0 in 29 minutes, a World Cup record which reduced Brazilian fans to tears. Germany went on to score two more goals, achieving an additional World Cup record for the most goals scored in a semi-final.