9 classic games you should rewatch while stuck at home
Take a trip down memory lane and relive the agony and ecstasy of some of sport’s greatest moments.
By Will Pankey
Classic games never happen in a vacuum. They are never islands, never just what happens when the first whistle blows to when the last second ticks off the clock. A game’s greatness is measured by what came before it, what happens during regulation, the fallout afterward, and then the years that pass that add fresh layers of meaning to that one night. Here are 9 games that you can watch start-to-finish online that deserve another evaluation.
Allen Iverson stuns Los Angeles in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals
Though Allen Iverson never won a chip, he still enjoyed a career that had plenty of highlights. During his reign on the Sixers, he was the perennial People’s Champ, a slight 5’11” bone-skinny superstar who flouted the NBA’s rules and became an MVP. And even during his twilight years as a Denver Nugget, there was still some spark, some idea that Iverson could come up with some slashing-to-the-hoop magic. One of the most enduring memories of Al, however, comes in 2001 when he led a bruised and battered Philly team to the NBA Finals against the indomitable Los Angeles Lakers, a Lakers team who hadn’t lost one game during the playoffs. That the Lakers would win was an afterthought to everyone, except Allen Iverson. AI willed the Sixers to a surprise win and cemented an iconic moment when he hit a baseline three and stepped over Ty Lue to seal the game.
Vince Young leads Texas to glory over USC
Sometimes one wonders where it all went wrong with Vince Young. After leading the Longhorns to victory over the top-ranked USC in the National Championship Game, he went on to a mediocre career in the NFL filled with false hope, sputtered promises, and financial difficulties spurred in part by his Cheesecake Factory bills which were rumored to be upwards of $5,000 a week. Even if the NFL didn’t pan out for Young, his illustrious career as QB for the Longhorns came to a stunning finish in Pasadena. Filled with Heisman winners and some of the greatest college football players ever, the 2006 Rose Bowl game went down to the wire and, even though USC looked sure to win it at some points, Vince Young and Texas kept coming back until they finally won it all.
A blown lead and a miracle in Istanbul
Achieving and maintaining a lead in professional sports is both comforting and anxiety-inducing. The cliche is that having a two-goal lead in soccer is dangerous. Three-nil would be better because if the opposing team gets that one goal, then the momentum swings, the what-ifs loom in the mind and fortunes can change within seconds. It’s a storyline as old as time. Sportswriters have spilled tons of ink about what happened during the 2005 Champions League Final between AC Milan and Liverpool. But the lengthy diatribes and dissections are warranted because the match upended common thinking about the “comfortable lead” in football. How did AC Milan go into halftime up 3-0 only to end up losing on penalties in extra time? You can try to theorize about it but it’s probably best to just chalk it up as a singular, puzzling twist of fate.
A giant falls, killed by a helmet catch
So many great game narratives are written around the classic matchup of giant vs. underdog. It never gets old and one of the best came in 2008 when the undefeated New England Patriots marched into Arizona to face Eli Manning’s New York Giants. In retrospect, the script was written, set for the big upset as most of the pressure rested solely on Tom Brady’s shoulders with the perfect season in view. In the end, it all went differently. Eli Manning pulled off a miracle upset by evading a collapsed pocket and launching a prayer that David Tyree latched onto his helmet.
2014 World Cup Doubleheader
The 2014 World Cup had too many storylines to count, but the biggest ones included the reigning world champions and the greatest football nation of all time, both of who suffered first-hand defenestrations on the world stage. Everyone knows the story, but what the hell, here it goes again. 2014 marked the first time Brazil had hosted the World Cup since 1950. Back in 1950, Brazil believed they would win the World Cup on their own soil. They lost to Uruguay in the final match, one of the biggest upsets ever. Fast forward to 2014. Brazil are hosts. They think they will finally win the World Cup on their soil. Instead, they lose in spectacular fashion to Germany, the home World Cup win eluding Brazil once again. It was great to watch live and it gets better each time you watch the silky dominance of Germany. 2014 also marked the end of Spain’s dominance in international football after they failed to reach the knockout stage, in part due to the 1-5 thrashing administered by the Netherlands. Robin Van Persie’s outrageous diving header is the cherry on top.
The Flu Game
Right now if you are starved for sports like pretty much everyone in the country, you’ve probably reserved Sunday nights for “The Last Dance,” ESPN’s 10-part documentary that revisits the greatness of Michael Jordan. “The Last Dance” definitely captures all angles of Michael in glossy highlights but highlights only tell so much; to really get the full context of someone’s performance and greatness you have to watch a full game. So, if you need some supplementary “The Last Dance” content, check out MJ’s infamous “Flu Game” where he willed the Bulls to victory in a must-win Finals game against the Utah Jazz.
The Drought Ends
We had to include some baseball in here, so why not just go back to 2016 and relive the Chicago Cubs’ longtime coming victory? The series played out as any sports fan would want it to, with everything coming down to a decisive game seven.
Mamba puts up 81
If you just want to see someone just light it up on a random midseason NBA game, look no further than Kobe Bryant’s remarkable 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors. If there was ever a game that epitomized Kobe Bryant’s legacy, it is this game where his ability to score-at-will and his me-against-the-world attitude was on full display. Sure the stakes were low, but were they ever for Kobe?