Consider this a little sports history Wednesday.
Now, it’s likely you’ve heard of some or perhaps all of these. But how many have you actually watched?
With moments like “The Immaculate Reception” going back more than 40 years, there’s a good chance you either haven’t seen some of the footage below or never had the full details at hand to put it all into context. Some of you may learn something here, and for the rest, it’s an awesome reminder of what sports are like at their absolute best.
Couple notes: We included only good moments, not bad (like Pete Rose’s ban from baseball). And nah, we aren’t going to attempt to rate these five from least to best, either. It’s too subjective. Instead, we’ll work chronologically. Just enjoy re-watching sports history below!
1. Wilt Keeps It 100 | March 2, 1962
Crazy that it’s been 55 years since this one and nearly as long since the end of Wilt’s 15-year pro career. To many, Wilt “the Stilt,” despite his absurd greatness, is a legend they’ve only heard about in passing. But make no mistake, the man still holds the record for the most points ever scored in a single NBA game.
While we don’t have video of in-game action for this one, enjoy the radio call and video interviews above of the time Wilt “Kept it 100” at the Hershey Sports Arena against the New York Knicks.
2. The Immaculate Reception | December 23, 1972
What NFL Films officially considers the greatest play in football history, “The Immaculate Reception” occurred in a chilly December ’72 game in Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium between the Steelers and Raiders. With only 30 seconds left on the clock and Pittsburgh down, quarterback Terry Bradshaw (yup, the announcer you now see on TV all the time) attempted a pass to teammate John Fuqua. Watch what happens next as a result of fullback Franco Harris above.
3. The Thrilla in Manila | October 1, 1975
The place: Araneta Coliseum. Quezon City, Philippines. The event: Two guys at the top of their sport just straight going at it. That’s what this is and what makes it special (aside from the sheer fact that Ali was involved, of course). Joe Frazier was a hell of a fighter in his own right, though, and the bout is considered among the most brutal in the heavyweight division’s history.
After Ali’s TKO of Frazier in the 14th round (taking the “series” against Joe, 2-1), the former went on to hold the title until 1978 while the latter dropped the final two fights of his otherwise illustrious career. Some say Frazier never recovered after this one.
4. The Miracle on Ice | February 22, 1980
We feel for you if you haven’t somehow seen this footage and heard the wildly famous Al Michaels call for ABC at the end, but if you haven’t, here ya go.
The context: It was Lake Placid’s 1980 Winter Olympics and the hosting U.S. squad was up against the defending gold medalists, the Soviets. The latter had won six of the last seven Winter Olympic Games and were again the favs. Moreover, they were a team of professional players. But the Americans, led by coach Herb Brooks? A comparatively rag-tag group of exclusively amateurs. They were also the youngest team in the Olympics and in U.S. national team history.
Going into the match, both squads were undefeated. But after the Soviets led 3-2 after the second period, the Americans lit ‘em up with two more goals, setting up the glorious enormity of the final minute. After the game, the U.S. would go on to win the gold medal against Finland in the championship. The Soviet Union took home silver. You know how it goes—second place is just first loser.
5. 23 Goes for 6 (MJ’s Final Shot) | June 14, 1998
On June 14, 1998 in Salt Lake City’s Delta Center, #23, His Airness, the greatest basketball player of all-time (and some say greatest competitor, period), went for championship #6.
And he got it, in what would be his final game—and final shot.
Down by one with the last seconds of Game 6 of the Finals ticking down, Jordan nabbed a steal, drove down the court, gave Jazz defender Bryon Russell a… “nudge,” let’s say… and swished the game-winning shot.
BONUS VIDEO: MJ’s similarly famous shot over Craig Ehlo during the 1992 NBA Playoffs! The celebration is what’s cemented it in lore.