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10. Steve McNair, Super Bowl XXXIV January 30, 2000
Before Super Bowl XXXIV, black quarterbacks were renowned for their athleticism, not their poise, but with one play, Steve McNair changed the stereotype. With less than 30 seconds to go, facing third down from midfield, McNair eluded defenders to the right, then to the left, then again back to the right. Rather than scramble for a first down, he found Kevin Dyson deep downfield for a completion that would bring the Super Bowl down to a final play. Now, black QBs are known for skill and savvy.
CAPTIONS BY MARTIN JOHNSON
9. Barry Bonds 2001 Season
Mark McGwire's much ballyhooed single season home run record didn't last long. In 2001, Barry Bonds broke McGwire's record with 73 home runs. He also set all-time marks with an .863 slugging percentage, 171 walks. His on-base percentage, .515, was the highest in 101 years. Was he on steroids? Probably. But it's equally likely that some of the pitchers he faced were on them, too. Tarnish or no, it was the greatest season by a hitter in baseball history.
8. George Mason University Goes to the Final Four, 2006
The NCAA men's basketball tournament is renowned for remarkable upsets, but only their biggest fans anticipated the run by the George Mason University Patriots. Seeded 11th out of 16 teams in their regional, the Patriots astonished everyone by defeating the defending champion University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the No. 1 seeded University of Connecticut Huskies, and two other top teams, in a magical 11-day run to the Final Four.
7. David Tyree Uses His Head, Super Bowl XLII, February 3, 2008
Championship games often provide a stage for unlikely heroes like David Tyree. A respected special teams player, he was pressed into service as a wide receiver. On a key third-down play, a pass sailed high toward Tyree, he leapt for the ball, but a defender slammed into his body preventing him from cradling the catch. Tyree held the ball to his helmet as both men tumbled to the field. It was the greatest catch in Super Bowl history, and the Giants scored the winning touchdown seconds later.
6. The King Shows His Royal Colors, May 31, 2007
From the time he was 17, LeBron James was called "The King." Then he proved that he deserved the name. In a key playoff game, LeBron took over as no player ever had before. He scored 29 of his team's final 30 points, including the winning shot with 2.2 seconds left. The victory helped propel the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first ever NBA finals. With that game, James provided the substance to the mythic aura of his career.
5. Serena Returns With a Vengeance, Australia 2007
In January 2007, Serena Williams found herself in an unfamiliar position, ranked only 81st after two injury-plagued seasons. She vowed that she would return to prominence. Her critics said she was "deluded." Few gave Williams a chance to make the second week of the Australian Open, but Serena did. Then she won dramatic comeback matches in the scorching Australian heat, to set up a final with Maria Sharapova. She crushed the Russian in straight sets. By year's end, she was the top-ranked American woman in tennis.
4. Usain Bolt, Blink and You Miss Him
In August 2008 at the Beijing Summer Olympics, "fast" seemed far too tame a word to describe the way Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt ran. He didn't just win gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4 x 100 meter relay; he became the first man to set world records in the individual races at the same Olympics. Then the following year, Bolt broke his own 100 and 200 records at the World Championships. Speed has a new gold standard.
3. The Beginning of a Lakers Dynasty, 2000
In 1996, the Los Angeles Lakers traded for Kobe Bryant and signed Shaquille O'Neal. Three title-less years later, they hired coach Phil Jackson. Yet Lakers fans had to be thinking, "Oh no, not again" or something less printable as their team trailed by 15 points going into the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals. Then came a stunning 25-4 rally capped off by a Kobe lob for a Shaq dunk. Finally, they'd found their championship mettle. Three titles would follow.
2. The 2008 Boston Celtics Redefine Black Basketball
For those who think that black basketball is flamboyant dunks, one-on-one play and flashy passes, we present the 2008 Boston Celtics. Led by three superstars who shared the ball resourcefully and played suffocating defense, this team revived memories of the Bill Russell era. The stars always looked to make the extra pass, find the open man and lead by example. Sixty-six regular season wins and a series of grueling playoff triumphs resulted in a banner that stands for much more than just another Celtics title.
1. Tiger Woods U.S. Open, June 2008
For a moment, forget about the car crash and all the domestic drama that followed. In 2008, Tiger Woods won a U.S. Open for the ages. Woods played the tournament against the advice of his doctors who feared that his surgically repaired left knee wouldn't hold up. It didn't, but Tiger did. He made two difficult birdies to force playoffs. And after 91 holes on one good leg, Tiger had his most dramatic victory. Immediately after his incredible win, he announced he needed more surgery and would miss the remainder of the season. Woods has won dozens of golf tournaments, but this was his most enduring moment as a champion.