Saturday, April 24, 2010

My most disappointing moments as a sports fan:The 80s

I know everyone has heard a sports analyst or columnist's worse moments as a fan in sports.I just wanted to give mine in short detail.

1980-Magic's moment against the Sixers.When I first started watching basketball in the late 70s,I couldn't bring myself to be a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers.The first big star I knew was Julius Erving and wanted him and the Sixers to beat the Lakers.When Kareem Abdul Jabbar went down in Game 5,I knew it was a lock that Philly would win the next two games and the championship.42 points,15 rebounds,and 7 assists later,I had my first moment of anguish as a sports fan.

1981- The Sixers gag once again.Holding a 3-1 advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals against the hated Boston Celtics,the Sixers once again let a series slip away.They lost their grip in game 5 and lost the next two in a 4-3 series loss.That's when the everyone started extolling the virtues of one Larry Bird.

The Sugar Ray Leonard/Thomas Hearns fight was another bad moment.Being from nearby Detroit,everyone knew Hearns would take this fight.It wasn't going to be a cakewalk,but me and the fellas felt Hearns knockout power would be too much for Leonard.Hearns use his power to control the early part of the fight,but sometime in the middle rounds the Hearns camp thought that it would be good for him to exhibit his boxing skills.Leonard became the puncher and eventually caught hearns in the 13th,sending him through the ropes.Leonard finished him in the 14th in one of the most epic fights of all time.I always say if the fight went 12 rounds like they do today, Hearns wins by unaminous decision.This is still one of my top 5 disappointing moments,since Hearns would win some big fights,but lost the bigger ones(Hagler,Leonard).

1982-I never was much of a North Carolina.I absolutely hated it when the legend of Michael Jordan kicked in a sank Georgetown in the NCAA championship game.I also hate seeing the highlight of Fred Brown inadvertently passing the ball to James Worthy in the game's closing seconds.

1983-In college this was the year of the upset.I used to be a Nebraska football fan.Not now,for different reasons,but that may come later.The Cornhuskers,were supposed to roll through the underdog Miami Hurricanes.How wrong was I and everyone else that picked the Huskers to win.The upstart Hurricanes ambushed Nebraska early and held on for a 31-30 victory.Nebraska coach Tom Osborne could've won the national championship by kicking the extra point but went for two for the win.In hindsight,I would've went for the win myself,even though I was disappointed about the outcome.

Later that year the Houston Cougars dunked their way to the NCAA finals.After dispatching Louisville in the semifinals 94-81,in one of the greatest Final Four games played,they also were heavy favorites,going against the unheralded North Carolina State Wolfpack.Before the Louisville game,the familiar phrase of the winner of this game probably wins the national championship.The Pack neutralized the Cougars and slowed the game down.Houston took an eight point lead midway through the second half and legendary coach Guy Lewis decided to take his foot off the gas.Well,that failed and N.C. State's Lorenzo Charles dunked home a Dereck Whittenburg airball for a 54-52 win.

1984-I realized I hated the Celtics more than the Lakers.They met in the NBA finals that year with the Celtics taking the series 4-3.Bird finally gets over on Magic.Not too much to say about it other than I hate the Celtics and still do.

1985-Georgetown loses to Villanova.This was called the biggest upset in NCAA history.I disagree with that assessment.Villanova was a legit NCAA team,but they were aided by the fact that there was no shot clock back then.I can recall plenty of times in the tournament when they passed the ball around,took a shot,missed,got the rebound,and passed it back up top to Gary McLain,who then held the ball and barked out Peyton Manning like play calls.Pretty flukey,just as much as N.C.State's championship.

My favorite baseball team,next to the Detroit Tigers,the St. Louis Cardinals,were robbed of the 1985 World Series.True,they blew a 3-1 series lead to the Kansas City Royals,but they seemingly won game 6.At least that's what the Cardinals thought.Jorge Orta hit a slow roller to first baseman Jack Clark who tossed it to the ball to closer Todd Worrell.Orta, who was clearly out by a step,ok,half a step,was called safe by umpire Don Denkinger.The Cardinals unraveled by making mistakes that cost them that game and were blown out in game 7 11-0.

Another bad moment.Michigan lost a close, hard fought game to Iowa 12-10.I've always hated seeing Iowa's Rob Houghtlin and his giant shoulder pads nailing that last second field goal, which probably cost Michigan a share of the national championship.

1986-The moment when time stood still.Michigan State was a number 5 seed in the NCAA tournament's Midwest region.That also meant if they had any chance of making a deep run it was going to have to make it through Kansas City and the Kansas Jayhawks,who were the "home" team.The Spartans,led by Scott Skiles,had the Jayhawks on the ropes,until the clock operator started with his hijinks.Somewhere late in the second half,with Kansas behind,didn't start the clock for a good 6-10 seconds.Alas,the game went into overtime as the Spartans fell 96-86.

Elway's drive.Never much of a Denver Broncos fan,I didn't find it enjoyable to see John Elway march his team 98 yards to a game tying touchdown against the Cleveland Browns.The Broncos won in overtime,where they were blown out by the New York Giants.

1987-Indiana's entire run in the 1987 NCAA tournament.Indiana is one of my least college basketball teams,next to Duke.So inmagine what anguish I had to go through seeing Indiana make their championship run.There were a few times where it seemed that they were on their way to being eliminated,only to have the game turn on a Bob Knight tantrum.Like the second round game against Auburn,and the Midwest reigonal final against LSU.I thought they had finally met their match when they played Jerry Tarkanian's UNLV squad.Somehow,they were beat at their own game,run and gun,as bit players such as Joel Hillman came through with some clutch plays to sink the Runnin Rebels.I don't need to say more about the championship game,except Keith "bleepin" Smart.

"The fumble game".Once again the Cleveland Browns were snakebit against the Denver Broncos in the AFC championsip game.This time was particularly disturbing.The Browns,playing from behind all game,seemed to be going in for a game tying score.Earnest Byner,was going in for a touchdown that would've tied the game.Byner was stripped by Denver's Jeremiah Castille.The play was known as "the fumble" and Byner was made as the goat.Never mind the fact that without him they wouldn't have been in the position to even be in the game.

1987 ALCS.The Detroit Tigers rallied from six games down to win the division over the Toronto Blue Jays.Next up was the ALCS against the Minnesota Twins.A series that was definitely winnable.On paper.The Twins won a weak AL West division with 87 wins.The Twins took it to the Tigers,winning the first two games at the friendly Metrodome.The Tigers came back home to take game 3,which led to a back and forth game 4.That was until Darrell Evans was picked off third base to snuff out a Tigers rally and pretty much end their season.

The green ghosts in Boston haunt the Pistons.Everyone that knows sports knows what I'm talking about here.The 1987 Eastern Conference Finals.The Celtics and Pistons waged a seven game battle that turned on two plays.People in the Detroit area know which two I'm referring to.Game 5 was an instant classic win or lose.There was Robert Parish layin the smackdown on Bill Laimbeer in plain view of everyone except the referee's.and there was "the steal".The Pistons had the game won,with about 5 seconds left.,with Isiah Thomas set to inbound the ball to Bill Laimbeer.Thomas passed the ball,which was stolen by Larry Bird,who quickly whipped a pass to Dennis Johnson for the winning layup.The question about that was,why was Thomas inbounding the ball.Detroit rallied to win game 6,to set up a winner take all game 7.This was another nip and tuck affair and the game turned when Vinnie Johnson and Adrian Dantley butted heads diving for a loose ball,knocking out Dantley for the remainder of the game.Even in the end there was controversy when Dennis Rodman said that the only reason Larry Bird was considered a great playerwas because he was white.Isiah Thomas echoed that sentiment by saying that if Bird was black he would be just 'another good guy'.This series was truly epic.

The Marvelous one gets robbed in Vegas.To me Marvin Hagler deserved a draw, at the least,against Sugar Ray Leonard.I understand that Leonard showed more ring generalship than Hagler and that he threw more punches.But you shouldn't score punches when they're hitting arms and gloves.Hagler was exposed for nothing more than a brawler,but you can't say a person won a fight because he had some timed flurries.Hagler, who was clearly disappointed,retired and never fought again,moved to Italy and became a star in action movies.

1988-Michigan's first two games to start the football season.Even though they won the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl,this could've been put in the what if category.You see,Michigan lost a heartbreaker in the opener to Notre Dame,straight from the toe of Reggie Ho.No disrespect,but there's not too many Asians i know named Reggie.They returned home to play the mighty Miami Hurricanes.I remember this game,because I was washing dishes at a Big Boy restaurant and when I got home Michigan was up 30-14.Then came the fourth quarter.No pun intended,but the Hurricanes came storming back to take a 31-30 decision.A moment I remember was late in the game when a pass that was thought to be completed to receiver Chris Calloway.That was until Miami coach Jimmy Johnson ran over there motioning to say that Calloway was juggling the ball as he went out of bounds,with his hands moving up and down.This was another blown opportunity for another possible national championship.

Hershiser tames the A's-I remember my grandfather(R.I.P.) telling me good pitching will beat good hitting,long before I heard any commentator say that.This proved to be true as the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff shut down the Oakland A's big bats.This was after I told my grandfather that Oakland would take this series in a rout.In my opinion what turned this series,was the Kirk Gibson homer off Dennis Eckersley to win game 1.Then Orel Hershiser shut down the A's with his record scoreless streak.I remember after game 5,my grandfather called me that night laughing in my ear.He kinda sounded like Barney Rubble.I still remember the call.

Choke-lahoma.Oklahoma rolled into the Final Four as the favorites to win it all.Back then I was a big time Oklahoma fan and swore by the Sooners.Everyone in my school knew it,since I came to classes decked in Oklahoma gear.This also was the first time I participated in a NCAA tournament pool.I seemed to have first place locked up,when I saw Oklahoma was playing Kansas in the finals.What made me particular bitter in this instance was while watching the game my brother made the switch from Sooner fan to Jayhawk fan by halftime.And when the immortal Scooter Barry made the game clinching free throws to give Danny and the Miracles the title,I was absolutely sick.I didn't want to go to school the next day because I knew I would hear it for the rest of the school year.

 A phantom foul and Isiah's bum ankle.Everyone figured the Los Angeles Lakers would make quick work of the Detroit Pistons in the 1988 NBA Finals.No one sent the Pistons the memo.The Pistons came out hard and fast as Adrian Dantley paced them to a game 1 win with 34 points and taking the home court with a 105-93 win. L.A. evened the series going back to Detroit tied 1-1.That's when things got physical.Magic and Isiah nearly coming to blows and the Pistons with their physical brand of defense.The Lakers took game 3 with a 99-86 win and Detroit came back to win the next two,going back to L.A. with a 3-2 lead.Game 6 was a classic game showcasing a team hungry to win their first title and the veterans with their back to the wall,looking to hold off the challengers.In the third quarter the Lakers led 56-48 before Isiah Thomas went on one of the most classic one man runs in NBA history.He scored the games next 14 points and 25 in the third. But one play turned the game and the series.When Thomas stepped on Michael Cooper's foot and rolled his ankle.Late in the game, a phantom foul was called on Bill Laimbeer, despite replays showing there was no visible contact on the play.Kareem Abdul Jabbar sank two free throws,Joe Dumars misses a mid range shot and on to game 7 we go.The foul call was worse than Charles White's phantom touchdown in the 1979 Rose Bowl.Us Michiganders can't get a fair shake in California.Thomas tried to give it a go as he hobbled around in warmups.He did put up 10 points in the first half as the Pistons jumped to 52-47 halftime lead.He wasn't the same and the Lakers seized the oppurtunity by going on one of their patented runs that put them up by 15 in the fourth.Pistons coach Chuck Daly knew he had o do something and switched to a quicker lineup featuring Dumars,Vinnie Johnson,Dennis Rodman and John Salley.The Pistons took the momentum from the Lakers and went on a major run,eventually cutting the lead to two.They did have a chance to tie or take the lead,but Rodman forced an ill advised,long range jumper and the Lakers went up by 5.Detroit cut it to one,but A.C. Green scored on a layup that pushed it to 3 with about 4 seconds showing.Magic Johnson starts, celebrating as Thomas got the ball at halfcourt,Magic knocks him down,fans start rushing the court with 2 seconds on the clock and Thomas was unable to get off a shot.No foul called and the refs ignored the fact that fans were on the court before the game ended.This disappointment ranks right up there with the Leonard/Hearns fight in '81.

Notre Dame,which is the Duke of basketball to me wins the national championship in football.Enough said.

1989-Not too much went on this year,as '89 turned out to be a pretty good year.Except for Notre Dame dashing Colorado's hopes for a national championship in the Orange Bowl.I swear Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy was shaving points,as he had two early game fumbles when he was basically untouched.I couldn't stand watching that game.

Those are my personal worst moments in sports from the 1980s

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