Top 10 U.S. Sports Moments of the Decade

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Graphic by Joey Goodsir

With the 2010s coming to close, we thought to dive into the best moments in sports from the decade. These moments reflect mostly what happened in American sports and are ranked on their remembrance.

A reminder that these are our opinions and we’re sorry if your favorite didn’t make it on this list. Out of some of the ones that did, which one was your favorite? Let us know.

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On to our own picks! But first, here are some of our honorable mentions:

 

Honorable Mentions

 

Clint Dempsey goal against Ghana [1’] (2014)

Going into the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the United States had one of the toughest pools in the entire tournament. The pool consisted of the USA, Ghana, Portugal, and Germany. In the first game, a highly anticipated win, the United States came out firing. Ghana started by passing back and passing around only to give up a throw in to the United States. Demarcus Beasley, a left defender, threw it into Clint Dempsey, the star forward. Dempsey then passed it off to Jermaine Jones and took off for the net. Jones gave Dempsey a perfect ball in which gave him control to make something happen. Dempsey cut back in on a Ghana defender and snuck past giving him a one on one with the Ghana keeper. Dempsey fired a left-footer on the ground that banged off the post and rolled past the line giving the U.S. the lead. This goal was the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history, only taking 29 seconds. 

 

TJ Oshie vs. Russia (2014)

The United States and Russia faced off in an Olympic pool play match. The game remained tied 2-2 and the end of regulation, and then the shootout began. Each team got three shots against the other team’s goalie. Since Olympic hockey rules allow for players to shoot multiple times, TJ Oshie, 27 at the time, took every single shot for the U.S. He made 4 out of his 6 shots, ultimately beating Russia by himself. The most famous goal was the eighth shot of the shootout. All Oshie had to do was to sink the shot and the U.S. would go onto the next round. Oshie took the puck and slowly made his way towards Bobrovsky, the Russian goalie, and whipped a wrist shot right through his legs, thus ending the hopes for the Russians.

 

Wilson’s Top 10

Wilson Irvin, Staff Writer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Chicago Cubs Win World Series (2016)

The 108-year World Series Championship drought was snapped in the year 2016. The Chicago Cubs were always the lovable losers of the league until the early 2000s, when the run to the World Series in 2003 was stopped in the NLCS, with fan Steve Bartman becoming the innocent scapegoat of Cubs fans. The Chicago Cubs front office built up the minor league system and benefited off of their young core to break the infamous Curse of the Billy Goat with a pennant-clinching win at Wrigley, and then won it all in an instant extra-innings classic Game 7 in Cleveland.

 

2. The Block (2016)

The saga between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers lasted three years. The first year gave the trophy to Golden State. The following season, the Warriors followed up with a record of 73-9 — the best of all-time. They breezed through the playoffs and beginning of the NBA Finals, leading the Cavaliers three games to one. Lebron James, arguably the best player of our generation, led the Cavaliers in his second season after returning from the Miami Heat to another NBA Finals. The Cavaliers won back-to-back games to force a Game 7 in Oakland and attempt to come back from 3-1. The game was close all of the ways through, but in the final minutes, Golden State had a crucial fastbreak. Andre Iguodala, the veteran small forward, went up for a layup to take the lead, but only to be denied on a chase-down block by Lebron James. This led to Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers point guard, to hit a step-back three-pointer to seal the game. 

 

3. The Kick Six (2013)

Auburn and Alabama — Arguably, the best rivalry and college football. Leading up to 2013, Alabama was leading Auburn in the series 46-31-1 all time, with the Tide seeming unstoppable. That was until Alabama head coach Nick Saban decided to attempt a 57-yard field goal for the win. Auburn, anticipating a short kick, put Chris Davis, a cornerback deep to return the ball. The kick was short, and Davis decided to return it. With lead blockers already near mid-field, Davis ended up returning the kick 109 yards for a touchdown, with time expired, resulting in a win for the Tigers that would be remembered forever. This is seen as one of the greatest plays in college football because of how rarely a “kick six” happens, let alone to win a game. The fact that it was a matchup like the Iron Bowl made it 20 times more important.

 

4. Zach Lavine vs. Aaron Gordon (2016)

Going into the 2016 NBA Dunk Contest, every single fan of the NBA knew Zach LaVine. The reigning Dunk Champion stunned everyone with his flashy behind the backs, through the legs, 360s, and insane vertical. Nobody knew who Aaron Gordon was, making his dunks even more impressive than being 6 foot 8 inches tall. LaVine started his first two rounds and looked as if he wasn’t even trying, grabbing two 50’s (perfect score dunks) and breezed to the championship. Aaron Gordon however, had something to prove to be there. His first two dunks impressed the judges enough to send him through. Now, everyone watching had no idea that they would see the best dunk contest of all time. LaVine and Gordon went at it, including dunks such as a windmill from the free-throw line, one-handed 360 while grabbing the ball from a mascot spinning on a hoverboard, jumping over a mascot on a hoverboard and going under both legs, and a through-the-legs from the free throw line. LaVine ended up taking home the trophy, but this became known as the “must-see” moment in basketball history. 

 

5. Villanova vs. North Carolina (2016)

Arguably the best national championship of the decade occurred in 2016 with Villanova University and the University of North Carolina. The game itself was close the entire way through, with no team ever pulling ahead by a great amount. With UNC down by 6 with a minute and a half left, Marcus Paige, the senior guard, spotted up in the corner and hit a three to cut the lead in half. Villanova then went down and tried to hold the ball and maintain their lead, only for their guard, Ryan Arcidiacono, to turn the ball over by throwing it out of bounds. Next possession, Paige drove in for a layup but missed. His determination kept the possession alive by him grabbing his rebound, and putting it back in for two, cutting the lead to one. The Tar Heels had to foul junior, Josh Hart. Hart made both free throws, extending the lead to three once again. Marcus Paige however, had something up his sleeve. Paige caught the ball far behind the arc, took a dribble, jumped for a shot, and double-clutched his way around Arcidiacono and hit a three to tie it with 4.7 seconds remaining, and the score 74-74. The Wildcats took a timeout and planned to win the game with one shot. Kris Jenkins, a junior, inbounded the ball to Arcidiacono who drove up to the top of the three-point arc, as Jenkins trailed behind him. Arcidiacono tossed the ball to Jenkins behind the arc and Jenkins shot it with one second on the clock, and sunk it. Villanova beat one of the best programs in the country, and Jenkins became a hero in Villanova Basketball history. 

 

6. David Freese’s Game 6 of the World Series (2011)

With the World Series on the line, David Freese — the third basemen for the St. Louis Cardinals and in his third year in the majors —stepped up to bat. It was game six, and the Cardinals were down three games to two, with two outs, two strikes on him in the bottom of the ninth, and runners on first and second. The Texas Rangers closer, Neftalí Feliz threw a fastball in the zone and Freese drove it to the right-field wall. Both runners scored and Freese had earned himself a game-tying triple. However, he was left on base and the Cardinals did not score, but forced extra innings, keeping their hopes alive. After a thrilling 10th inning and top of the 11th, David Freese had the bat in his hands once again. This time he faced Mark Lowe. On a full count, Freese connected with the ball and sent it over the center-field fence and forced a game seven, in which the Cardinals would win and become World Champions behind Freese’s clutch performance.

 

7. UMBC vs. Virginia (2018)

No 16 seed has ever beaten the number one seed in March Madness. It seems nearly impossible. These tiny little schools that have no business beating such large basketball powerhouses like Duke, Virginia and North Carolina. Although some 15 seeds have beaten the number two seed, this one game changed college basketball history. The University of Maryland — Baltimore County (UMBC), snuck into the NCAA March Madness tournament as the 16 seed, up against the best team in college basketball, a fundamentally sound, well-coached and talented Virginia. Although Virginia didn’t know what was coming, talented, hungry players, eager to make history came out firing and didn’t let Virginia have a chance. UMBC ended up beating Virginia 74-54 and marking their place as the first 16 seed to beat the number one seed. 

 

8. Odell Beckham Jr’s Catch (2014)

On a regular old Sunday Night Football matchup between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, the best catch of the year, and debatably all-time, was made by the rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for the Giants. Eli Manning connected with Beckham Jr. on a 41-yard pass, in which Beckham Jr. reached behind his head, while being held by a Cowboys defender, and caught the ball with only three fingers — All resulting in a touchdown for the Giants. The catch was so crazy, that it is now cultural commonplace to say “Odell me,” when wanting to make a one-handed catch. 

9. Ray Allen’s shot in Game 6 NBA Finals (2013)

Lebron James, Dwanye Wade, and Chris Bosh. The Miami Heat’s big three had already made it to two NBA Finals in the two seasons that James had arrived in South Beach. However, this time it was different. The San Antonio Spurs were leading three games to two and were leading in the final seconds. The Heat had the ball in Lebron James’s hands and we’re hoping he would sink the shot. James stopped beyond the three-point arc and fired a three-pointer to tie, and missed. The more important part of this play was Chris Bosh, the all-star center and future Hall of Famer grabbed the offensive rebound and looked for someone to pass to win the game. That’s where he found Ray Allen, in his 18th season and the greatest three-point shooter of all time. Ray Allen, stepped behind the back behind the line and hit the shot with 5.2 seconds remaining, forcing overtime and helping the Miami Heat win their first NBA title.

 

10. Tiger wins the 2019 Masters (2019)

The greatest of all time, Tiger Woods. From his first tour win in 1996 to his last in 2013, he was uncatchable. That all ended in 2014, when Woods began to battle back injuries, and it looked as if Woods would not be able to play any longer. Woods tried to play in a couple of tournaments from 2014-2017 but had to withdraw from many tournaments and never took home a trophy. In 2018, Tiger announced his “comeback” to golf. Woods ending up winning the Tour Championship at the end of the 2018 season, and solidified that he was truly “back.” Shortly after, in April of 2019, Woods was playing for the Masters. Arguably the “best and iconic” tournament on tour, Woods had previously won 4 Masters and would be competing for his 5th. Tiger started well, playing his first two rounds 6-under. He played even better the next day shooting a 5-under 67 and followed that up with a 2-under 70 to win by one stroke. Every single golf fan stood on their feet at the sight of Tiger being back.

 

Luke’s Top 10

Luke Davis, Staff Writer

 

 

 

 

 

1. Cubs World Series (2016)

With Chicago sports bias put aside, this is still the top sports moment of the decade. After going 108 years without winning a World Series, and 71 years without winning the pennant, snapping the longest drought in professional sports history has to be the #1 sports moment of the decade. 

 

2. Tiger wins the Masters (2019)

Tiger Woods was dominant. He was the lone man on top of the golf world with everyone else trying to catch him. From his first tour win in 1996 to his last in 2013, he was uncatchable. Then, in 2014, he began battling injuries, and it looked as if it would be the end of Tiger’s reign. He had played in a couple of tournaments from 2014-2017, but he had to withdraw from many tournaments and didn’t win one of them. In 2018, Tiger announced his “comeback” to golf. Woods ending up winning the Tour Championship at the end of the 2018 season, and solidified that he was true, “back.” Shortly after, in April of 2019, Woods was playing for the Masters. Arguably the “best” tournament on tour, Woods had previously won 4 Masters and would be competing for his 5th. Tiger started well, playing his first two rounds 6-under. He played even better the next day shooting a 5-under 67 and followed that up with a 2-under 70 to win by one stroke. He had done it. He had come back from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. Tiger was back. 

 

3. Villanova beats UNC (2016) 

Possibly the greatest College Basketball National Championship in recent history, this game had it all. Defense, offense, circus shots and buzzer-beaters. Down by 6 with a minute and a half left in the game, North Carolina brought it back to a one-point game with under a minute to go. The teams battled back and forth exchanging buckets until there was no shot clock and UNC was forced to foul. They sent Josh Hart to the line for Villanova, who sank both free throws to make it a three-point Villanova lead. With 13 seconds on the clock, UNC inbounded the ball to Joel Berry, who crossed half-court and gave it to Marcus Paige, who beat one man and rose for the shot. With seven seconds remaining, Paige double-clutched to prevent his shot from getting blocked, and made it with 4 seconds left. Everyone was stunned. Villanova called a timeout to draw up a play. With 4.7 seconds remaining, Kris Jenkins inbounded the ball to Ryan Arcidiacono and followed Arcidiacono up the court. Arcidiacono shuffled the ball to Jenkins way beyond the three-point line, and Jenkins rose. With Jim Nantz’s famous “For the championship!” call playing over his shot, he made it. As time expired, Kris Jenkins was a Villanova hero and was a major part of one of the greatest basketball games ever.   

 

4. UMBC beats Virginia (2019)

It’s not often that a college basketball team composed of no big-name players or top 300 recruits plays against a team full of those players. In 2018, 16 seed UMBC Terriers got a chance at the number 1 overall seed Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia came into the game with a record of 31-2, the best of any team that year. Many people had picked UVA to win the tournament in their brackets, and UMBC had the lofty goal to spoil that. After one half of play, UMBC was tied with the best team in college basketball. After another 20 minutes, UMBC was on top of the best team in college basketball by 20. UMBC etched their names into the history books as the first 16 seeds to ever beat a 1 seed. 

 

5. Landon Donovan Goal vs Algeria (2010)

With the game tied at 0-0 in stoppage time, the United States needed something special to happen at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The United States was playing Algeria, a team they should beat 9 times out of 10. They needed a win to make it to the next round of the World Cup, and if they didn’t, fans would begin to get skeptical about this team and what went wrong at another World Cup. As goalkeeper Tim Howard caught a header from an opposing player, he threw the ball out to Landon Donovan who carried it with him until he reached the 18-yard box. He then dumped it off to Jozy Altidore who crossed it to Clint Dempsey. Dempsey’s shot was blocked by the goalkeeper, but it popped out just beyond the six-yard box. Landon Donovan was there to put it away. He buried a shot in the corner, and the celebration started. Donovan had put the United States through and went down as scoring arguably the most important goal in United States Soccer history.

 

6. Iron Bowl – Kick Six (2013)

In what could be the luckiest season from a single college football team, Auburn won in the most famous Iron Bowl ever in that same lucky fashion. A week after the miraculous “Prayer at Jordan-Hare” against Georgia, they waltzed into the Alabama game confident. Needing a win to solidify their place in the SEC Championship game, Auburn would take a win any way they could. They did just that. With 1 second on the clock, Alabama’s kicker trotted out to attempt a 57-yard field goal. He had only attempted two field goals in his career before this one. Auburn sent a man back to receive the field goal on the chance it was missed short. The kicker wound up and missed. Short. The Auburn player back there caught it and proceeded to run it 107 yards back for a touchdown with 0 seconds on the clock, winning the game. The 2013 Iron Bowl went down as one of the best there ever was, thanks to poor kicking and Chris Davis. 

 

7. Hawks win 3 Stanley Cups in 6 years (2010-2015)

2010: 

2013:

2015:

It was a dark time in Chicago sports during the early 2010s, with Derrick Rose battling injuries, the Cubs putting up the worst record they’ve had since 1966, and the Bears missing the playoffs for 6 straight years. The Chicago Blackhawks however, provided nearly all of the bright spots during that period, winning the Stanley Cup 3 times in 6 years. With key players Patrick Kane, Jonathon Toews and Duncan Kieth leading the team for all 3 wins. This Blackhawks team set the winning precedent for the city of Chicago and is seen as one of the greatest hockey dynasties ever. 

 

8. Ray Allen’s 3 vs Spurs (2013)

LeBron, Wade, and Bosh — those were the people that were going to win the Heat team the championship, not the 18-year veteran who had been one of the best players in his prime, and arguably the best shooter of all time. But with 9 seconds remaining in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the Heat were trailing by 3 and were at risk of losing the series. Chris Bosh grabbed LeBron’s missed three-pointer and looked for a pass. He found Ray Allen in the corner with 7 seconds left, and Allen fired a shot. With a hand in his face, Allen drained it. With five seconds remaining, the game was tied. The Heat went on to not only win the game but also the series to give LeBron his first finals victory. The big three of LeBron, Wade, and Bosh did contribute a lot to the team, but they all have Ray Allen to thank for that Game 6 win.   

 

9. Warriors vs Cavs saga (2014-2018)

From the 2014-2015 NBA season to the 2017-2018 NBA season, the NBA was run by two teams: the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. Both of these teams consisted of their fair share of stars, the Warriors rostering Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, and the “Cavs” featuring LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. For four straight seasons, the Cavaliers and Warriors faced off in the NBA Finals, with the Warriors winning three of them. This saga gave us too many great moments and games to list, but perhaps the most famous being “The Block” (See Wilson’s #2). For most of the decade, the NBA was run by these two teams, leading to the fame of many of the players on these rosters. 

 

10. Odell Beckham Jr. (2014)

Possibly the greatest catch of all time happened on November 23, 2014, when Odell Beckham Jr. rose in a game against the Cowboys with one hand and came down with it. Beckham was being dragged down by his defender and secured the catch with only three fingers. Many hailed it the “catch of the year” while some even hailed it the best catch ever. It not only was a top moment, but it was also influential. Now, instead of people asking for a “one-handed catch,” people will ask for an “Odell,” and proceed to go up with one hand for the catch. With this catch, Odell influenced the next generation of football.