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ESPN25

On September 7, 2004, ESPN celebrated its 25th anniversary. During the run-up to the anniversary, the network counted down the top sports moments of the last 25 years (the "ESPN era"). The list featured concentrated almost exclusively on moments involving Americans. Each Tuesday, a new 25-to-1 list was unveiled, as was the next headline in that 25-to-1 countdown. In addition, each day during SportsCenter, the next moment in the list of the top 100 moments of the ESPN era was shown. The celebration concluded by declaring the Miracle on Ice hockey game between the United States and the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics the #1 moment, game, and headline of the last 25 years.

Top 100 moments

100. (1991) Minnesota Twins defeat Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the World Series, behind 10 shutout innings pitched by Jack Morris.

99. (1980) Julius Erving's reverse layup in the NBA Finals.

98. (2001) Jack Buck's tribute to baseball following 9/11.

97. (1985) William "Refrigerator" Perry ("The Fridge") scores on Monday Night Football.

96. (1986) Dave Henderson saves the Boston Red Sox with a 9th-inning homer off Donnie Moore of the California Angels in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.

95. (2000) Roger Clemens throws a bat at Mike Piazza during the World Series.

94. (1992) Derek Redmond is injured during the Olympic 400-meter dash; he limps around the track to the finish line with the help of his father, who came down to the track from the crowd.

93. (1997) Major League Baseball retires Jackie Robinson's #42.

92. (1980) Eric Heiden sweeps the speed skating gold medals at the Winter Olympics.

91. (1993) Michael Jordan retires (the first time).

90. (1995) Reggie Miller leads a comeback for the Indiana Pacers against the New York Knicks, scoring 8 points in the last 8.9 seconds of the game.

89. (2000) Rulon Gardner wins an Olympic wrestling gold medal, defeating Alexander Karelin, unbeaten for 13 years and unscored upon in 10 years, in the final.

88. (2001) Scott Brosius homers off of Byung-Hyun Kim in Game 5 of the World Series.

87. (1988) Dan Jansen, heavily favored to win a speed skating gold medal, falls at the Winter Olympics.

86. (2001) The Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in the last game of Ray Bourque's 22-year NHL career.

85. (1985) Indiana coach Bob Knight throws a chair across the court during a game against Purdue.

84. (1997) North Carolina coach Dean Smith wins his 877th career game, setting an all-time record for Division I coaching wins.

83. (2003) Kobe Bryant declares himself innocent of sexual assault.

82. (1998) After years of frustration, Dale Earnhardt finally wins the Daytona 500.

81. (1989) Michael Jordan's last-second shot over the head of Craig Ehlo beats the Cleveland Cavaliers.

80. (2002) Emmitt Smith breaks Walter Payton's career rushing record.

79. (1997) Michael Jordan plays through the flu to beat the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

78. (2002) Canadian figure skaters Jamie Salé and David Pelletier are given duplicate gold medals after a judging scandal.

77. (1988) Greg Louganis hits his head on the diving board, then comes back to win gold.

76. (1982) Kellen Winslow is carried off the field after the San Diego Chargers beat the Miami Dolphins in overtime.

75. (1985) Lawrence Taylor breaks Joe Theismann's leg on Monday Night Football.

74. (1998) Jean Van de Velde triple-bogeys the last hole to blow the British Open.

73. (1996) Michael Johnson wins gold in the 200 meters in the 1996 Summer Olympics, breaking his own world record by more than three-tenths of a second.

72. (1984) Mary Decker is tripped up in the 3000 meters at the 1984 Summer Olympics.

71. (1994) Dan Jansen, after a series of falls and subpar performances in 1988, 1992, and 1994, finally wins an Olympic gold medal.

70. (1984) Mary Lou Retton's perfect 10 wins her the gold medal.

69. (1984) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar breaks Wilt Chamberlain's all-time NBA scoring record.

68. (1998) John Elway leads the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl victory.

67. (1983) George Brett charges the umpire after being called out for having too much pine tar on his bat.

66. (1980) The No Más Fight: Roberto Duran quits in the rematch against Sugar Ray Leonard.

65. (1987) Magic Johnson's shot wins the NBA title for the Los Angeles Lakers.

64. (1999) Justin Leonard's putt wins the Ryder Cup.

63. (1980) Magic Johnson fills in for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the NBA finals.

62. (1990) Loyola Marymount All-American Hank Gathers collapses on the basketball court and dies.

61. (2001) Luis Gonzalez's bloop single wins the World Series for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

60. (1987) Keith Smart of Indiana hits a baseline jumper to win the NCAA Championship over Syracuse.

59. (1993) Chris Webber of Michigan calls "time out" without any left, clinching the NCAA Championship for North Carolina.

58. (1995) Mickey Mantle says he is not a role model after undergoing a liver transplant, a surgery needed because of years of alcohol abuse.

57. (1987) Larry Mize wins The Masters in a playoff over Greg Norman by sinking a miraculous 45-yard chip shot.

56. (2001) Cal Ripken Jr. homers in his final All-Star Game.

55. (1987) Larry Bird steals an Isiah Thomas inbounds pass, and passes to Dennis Johnson, who sinks a layup to give the Boston Celtics a win over the Detroit Pistons in Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

54. (1987) "The Drive" (1): John Elway engineers a 98-yard drive to tie the AFC Championship game between the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns. The Broncos go on to win in overtime.

53. (1988) Ben Johnson is stripped of his Olympic gold medal after testing positive for steroids.

52. (1989) Wayne Gretzky ties and breaks Gordie Howe's all-time scoring record, then wins the game in overtime.

51. (1996) Kerri Strug's vault, on a badly injured ankle, helps lead the US women's gymnastics team to Olympic gold.

50. (1993) Jim Valvano, dying of cancer, gives a moving speech at the ESPY Awards. Valvano, coach of the 1983 national champion North Carolina State Wolfpack, defiantly declares, "Don't give up, don't ever give up."

49. (1982) Michael Jordan sinks a baseline jumper to win the NCAA title for North Carolina. It is the first national title for Carolina coaching legend Dean Smith.

48. (2002) The "tuck rule" call keeps the New England Patriots alive.

47. (2000) The "Music City Miracle" leads the Tennessee Titans to a playoff victory over the Buffalo Bills.

46. (1999) Ted Williams throws the ceremonial first pitch at the All-Star Game.

45. (2001) Derek Jeter's relay throw saves the New York Yankees from elimination.

44. (2003) Annika Sörenstam becomes the first woman in 58 years to play in a PGA TOUR event.

43. (1993) Joe Carter hits a walk-off home run off of Philadelphia Phillies reliever Mitch "Wild Thing" WIlliams to win the World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays.

42. (1999) Serena Williams wins the US Open.

41. (1991) Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood's kick goes "wide right" to lose Super Bowl XXV to the New York Giants, 20–19.

40. (1980) Björn Borg defeats John McEnroe in the Wimbledon championship, coming back to win in the fifth set after McEnroe won an epic fourth-set tiebreaker 18–16.

39. (2003) Aaron Boone's walk-off home run wins the American League Championship Series for the New York Yankees over the Boston Red Sox.

38. (1994) The New York Rangers win the Stanley Cup for the first time in 54 years.

37. (1991) Nolan Ryan pitches his seventh no-hitter at age 44.

36. (1997) Tiger Woods wins The Masters in record fashion.

35. (2000) Mike Jones of the St. Louis Rams tackles Kevin Dyson of the Tennessee Titans at the 1-yard line with :02 to play, clinching the Super Bowl.

34. (1986) Len Bias dies of a cocaine overdose, the night after becoming the #2 pick in the NBA Draft.

33. (2003) Sammy Sosa is ejected for using a corked bat.

32. (1999) Brandi Chastain's penalty kick wins the Women's World Cup.

31. (1984) Walter Payton breaks Jim Brown's career rushing record.

30. (1997) Mike Tyson bites Evander Holyfield's ear during a title bout.

29. (1994) Nancy Kerrigan is attacked by associates of rival Tonya Harding at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which serve as the U.S. Olympic trials.

28. (1990) Buster Douglas knocks out Mike Tyson in the biggest upset in championship boxing history.

27. (1989) "The Drive" (2): Joe Montana leads the San Francisco 49ers 92 yards to win the Super Bowl over the Cincinnati Bengals.

26. (1989) A violent earthquake rips through San Francisco just before Game 3 of the World Series.

25. (1982) Tom Watson birdies the 17th hole to win the U.S. Open.

24. (1998) Michael Jordan's jump shot wins the NBA Finals over the Utah Jazz.

23. (1999) Lance Armstrong comes back from cancer to win his first Tour de France.

22. (1985) Villanova shoots nearly 80% from the field to upset Georgetown in the finals of the NCAA tournament.

21. (2003) Steve Bartman interferes with a foul ball, "cursing" the Chicago Cubs to blow a lead and lose the NLCS.

20. (1986) Jack Nicklaus wins The Masters at age 46, the oldest champion in history. Nicklaus come back from 4 strokes down entering the day, and finishes eagle-birdie-birdie-par to win the tournament by one stroke.

19. (2002) Adam Vinatieri kicks a game-winning field goal to give the New England Patriots the win in Super Bowl XXXVI. After the St. Louis Rams come back to tie the game with 1:30 left, Tom Brady leads the Patriots downfield to the 30-yard line, and Vinatieri converts a 48-yard kick that splits the uprights right at the exact moment that the game clock expires.

18. (1982) Cal beats Stanford, 25–20, on the strength of a crazy kickoff return that has since become known simply as "The Play." With 4 seconds left, Stanford takes a 20–19 lead, and kicks off to Kevin Moen. The ball is lateraled to Richard Rodgers and then Dwight Garner, who is almost tackled, but passes it back to Rodgers, then Mariet Ford and back to Moen, as the Stanford Band, thinking they have won, marches onto the field. Moen dodges the band and scores the winning touchdown, steamrolling trombone player Gary Tyrrell in the end zone.

17. (1992) Christian Laettner sends Duke to the Final Four. In overtime against Kentucky, the Blue Devils trail 101–100. Laettner makes two free throws to take the lead with 7.8 seconds left. Sean Woods converts a floater in the lane to give Kentucky a 103–102 lead with 2.1 seconds remaining. Grant Hill inbounds the ball the length of the court, and Laettner sinks a basket from the foul line as time expires, to win the game 104–103.

16. (2001) Barry Bonds breaks Mark McGwire's single-season home run record with his 71st home run. After McGwire moved the mark from 61 to 70, many thought his record would stand for decades, but just three seasons later, Bonds put together an incredible year. After 9/11 caused baseball to delay its season a week, Bonds hit his 71st and 72nd homers on October 5.

15. (1983) Lorenzo Charles dunks to win the NCAA Championship for underdog North Carolina State. Despite excellent play from the "Phi Slamma Jamma" duo of Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, heavily-favored Houston missed several free throws down the stretch, including one by Alvin Franklin with under a minute to play that would have given Houston the lead. The N.C. State Wolfpack passed the ball around to drain the clock and Dereck Whittenburg takes a shot with :02 left. It is an airball, but Charles jumps up and dunks it as time expires to win the title.

14. (1982) "The Catch": Joe Montana hits Dwight Clark to win the NFC Championship, on the way to a Super Bowl victory. The San Francisco 49ers trail the Dallas Cowboys 27–21, before Montana drives down into Dallas territory. With :58 to play, Montana is almost sacked, but throws the ball deep and high. Clark, in the back corner of the end zone, leaps and catches the ball, and the 49ers hang on to win 28–27.

13. (1995) Cal Ripken, Jr. breaks Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played record at 2,131. In the wake of the 1994 baseball strike that cancelled the World Series, Ripken continued a streak in which he had played every game for the Baltimore Orioles for over 13 years. On September 6, 1995, against the California Angels, Ripken breaks the record.

12. (1985) Pete Rose breaks Ty Cobb's record of 4,191 hits. In his 23rd season in the major leagues, Rose is player-manager of the Cincinnati Reds. On September 11, in his first at-bat, Rose hits a ball to left-center field for the record-breaking hit. Of the 20-minute celebration that followed, Rose would later say, "It was the first time in my life I was on a baseball diamond and didn't know what to do."

11. (1995) O. J. Simpson is found not guilty on two counts of murder...
10. (1994) ...sixteen months after he is chased by police in his white Bronco. On June 13, 1994, Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman are found brutally murdered at her home. Four days later, Simpson is told to turn himself in, but does not, escaping with a friend and contemplating suicide. His friend Al Cowlings drives to Simpson's home, where Simpson sits in the car for an hour with a gun to his head. After surrendering, Simpson is charged with two counts of murder, and the "Trial of the Century" begins. More than a year later, the jury finds Simpson not guilty, but Simpson is later found liable in a civil proceeding.

9. (1984) Doug Flutie's "Hail Mary" pass to Gerard Phelan gives Boston College a 47–45 win over Miami on national television. Miami scored with :28 left to take a 45–41 lead and apparently win the game, but two passes put the ball on the Miami 48-yard line with six seconds remaining. Flutie launches a long pass that settles into Phelan's arms. Flutie, knocked down after he threw the ball, realizes the pass has been caught and runs down the field jumping and cheering.

8. (1996) Muhammad Ali opens the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. As is traditional, the last runner of the Olympic Torch Relay was kept secret until the Opening Ceremonies. As the torch is passed around Olympic Stadium, the final pass is made to Ali, suffering from Parkinson's syndrome. Shaking visibly, Ali lights a fuse that travels to the cauldron where the Olympic flame will rest for the duration of the Games.

7. (1991) Magic Johnson announces his retirement from the NBA, disclosing that he is HIV-positive.

6. (2001) Seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt is killed in a crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500.

5. (1989) Pete Rose is banned for life from Major League Baseball for betting on baseball games. Rose did not admit his guilt at the time, but would finally confess to betting on baseball in 2004.

4. (1998) Mark McGwire hits his 62nd home run of the season, breaking the long-standing record of Roger Maris.

3. (1988) Kirk Gibson limps to the plate as a pinch-hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the World Series, facing Oakland Athletics super-closer Dennis Eckersley. Gibson hits a 3–2 pitch over the right-field fence at Dodger Stadium, winning the game for the Dodgers and setting the stage for an upset win by the Dodgers in the Series.

2. (1986) A ground ball by the New York Mets' Mookie Wilson goes through Bill Buckner's legs, giving the Mets a come-from-behind win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 6 of the World Series. The Mets go on to win Game 7 and the Series.

1. (1980) The Miracle on Ice: An underdog US hockey team defeats the world-beating Soviet Union 4–3 in the medal round of the 1980 Winter Olympics. Team USA goes on to win the gold medal after defeating Finland 4–2 in its last medal round game.

The Headlines

ESPN also had a weekly series, "The Headlines", hosted by Bob Ley, counting down the top 25 stories since 1979, "stories that at some point jumped off the sports page, and onto the front page."

  1. Miracle on Ice
  2. O.J. Accused of Murder
  3. Tiger Wins 1997 Masters
  4. Magic is HIV Positive
  5. Baseball Bans Pete Rose
  6. McGwire and Sosa Chase Maris
  7. Kobe Bryant Charged with Sexual Assault
  8. Sept. 11 Attacks Shut Down Sports
  9. Arthur Ashe Announces He Has AIDS
  10. Bird and Magic Revitalize the NBA
  11. Ripken Eclipses Gehrig
  12. U.S. Boycotts Moscow Olympics
  13. Strike Cancels World Series
  14. Armstrong Wins Tour de France
  15. Earnhardt Dies at Daytona
  16. Bias Dies of Cocaine Overdose
  17. Ben Johnson Stripped of Gold Medal
  18. Venus & Serena Dominate Tennis
  19. Tyson Convicted of Rape
  20. U.S. Captures Women's World Cup
  21. Kerrigan Attacked
  22. Seles Attacked During Match
  23. Indiana Fires Bob Knight
  24. The Jordan Era Ends
  25. The Dream Team

Who's #1?

Immediately following "The Headlines" (before "The Headlines" in the early portion of the summer), Stuart Scott hosted "Who's #1?", which counts down the top 25 of the last 25 years in some category. The #1 selection is shown below.








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