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My Favorite Comebacks of The Past 10 Years

April 17, 2012

Baseball, Features, NBA, Soccer

In the theatre of sports there is one event that captivates the hearts and minds of all sports fans, the comeback. A great comeback is a story you tell your kids; a story in which you know where you were and exactly what happened on that day. The comeback victory never goes away, whether you are the victor or the loser; you always remember.

In my years of sports viewing I can recall three comebacks that were simply awe-insipring. So much so that I want to share them with you, and I encourage you to share your favorites with The Farm Club as well in the comment section.

Here are some of my favorite comebacks from the past 10 years.

Dallas Mavericks v. Miami Heat 2011 NBA Finals Game 2 

The 2011 NBA season revolved around one headline, the Miami Heat. After acquiring two of the arguably top-ten players in the prior offseason in LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and alongside the South Beach iconDwayne Wade; they became one of the most star studded teams in league history.

Thier dominance in the regular season gave them the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, and in the first 3 rounds of the playoffs they lost a total of 3 games.

Their opponents in the finals, the Dallas Mavericks, were a team known for regular season success and their post season failures. Including a 2006 NBA finals run in which they blew a 2-0 series lead to the Heat, and a 2007 first round exit as the number one seed to the Golden State Warriors.

However this year something seemed a little different about the Dallas squad. In the second round they swept the defending champion LA Lakers and fought off the scrappy upstarts in the Oklahoma City Thunder which included a 15 point comeback victory in game 4 of the Conference Finals.

In Game 1 the Heat flexed their muscles and defeated the Mavericks 92-84, the game also left Dirk Nowitizki with an injured left hand.

Game 2 began with both sides keeping within points of each other, but as halftime drew close the Heat seized momentum; going on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 51.

The third quarter was a display of Miami’s defense, however Dallas was able to keep around and were only down 4 entering the fourth quarter of play.

In the fourth the Heat had all cylinders going; imposing their will on Dallas putting the lead to double digits, and all the momentum in their favor. This was the Miami Heat team that told the world they would win 8 championships.

The beat down reached a climax after Dwayne Wade 3-pointer that put the Mavericks down 15 points with 7 minutes and 15 seconds remaining, Dallas could only hang their heads as they watched LeBron James and Dwayne Wade boasting during the ensuing timeout. The celebration proved to be premature.

With the prospects of returning to Dallas down 2-0 the Mavericks were going to have to achieve the unthinkable; come back from a 15 point deficit for the second time in the playoffs.

After the timeout the Mavericks, who were down 73-88 quickly scored four points to put the lead at 11 with around 5 minutes left. The quick fashion of the points led Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to call a time out in hopes of calming the spurt. The timeout did not slow Dallas down and they continued to chip away at the Heat; brining the lead all the way to 4 with a few minutes remaining.

Just as they did in Oklahoma City, Dallas called upon their lone star Dirk Nowitzki to finish the job. Down 86-90 Nowitzki hit a jumper and a transition lay-up to tie the ball game. American Airlines Arena which minutes prior was breaking the sound barrier in excitement was now as quiet as an empty cathedral as Dallas completed a 17-2 run with 57.6 seconds left.

With the score level at 90-90 the Mavs gained control of possession, the team came up court and fed their horse Dirk Nowitzki the ball. He fired from the 3-point line and drilled it, giving them the 93-90 advantage with 27 seconds left.

Miami countered when Mario Chalmers drained an open 3 to tie the game out of the following timeout.

Dallas called time-out and returned to Dirk to win the game. They isolated Nowitzki on Chris Bosh; Dirk drove from the top of the key to the basket; without any help defense from Miami, Dirk was able to finesse his way to the basket, using his injured left hand to put it in.

With no timeouts remaining Dwayne Wade was forced to heave a half court prayer to win the game. The shot drew only rim, and Dallas drew victory from the jaws of defeat 95-93.

The game winning lay-up with 3 seconds remaining in Game 2. Image courtesy of OregonLive.com

The victory proved vital for the Mavericks who went on to win 3 of the next 4 games in the series; giving The Dallas Mavericks their first ever NBA championship.

Anaheim Angels v. San Francisco Giants: 2002 World Series Game 6  

Not often do we see two teams from the same state competing for a world championship, but the 2002 World Series was the second in two years that pitted two in-state rivals against each other. This series also provided baseball fans with one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.

With the series at 3-2 in favor of the Giants, game 6 was a must-win for the Angels. The Angels however had two factors going against them entering game 6; the heavy burden of facing elimination, and the hangover of a 16-4 defeat two nights prior.

The Giants continued their assault of the Angels, scoring 5 runs and shutting-out the angels through 6 innings. With eight outs away from elimination the Angels were desperate to save face, let alone win the actual World Series.

With one out in the 7th inning Giants manager Dusty Baker relieved starter Russ Ortiz for the set-up man Felix Rodriguez. In an even more intriguing move Baker gave Ortiz the game ball, giving the notion that the Giants were going to leave Anaheim champions. The Angels countered by placing the now famous Rally Monkey on the JumboTron.

The legendary Rally Monkey himself.

Wether it was the monkey that led the come back  is up for debate, but the fact is the Angels hit two consecutive singles off Ortiz in the bottom of the 7th. With two runners on and one out Scott Spiezio approached the plate, he battled Ortiz and after fouling off a few pitches he finally found a pitch to handle and knocked a 3-run homer, and the legend of the Rally Monkey only grew larger.

The Angels rally continued in the 8th inning with a lead-off home run by Darin Erstad, followed by two singles by Anaheim. With no outs and two runners on, Baker inserted Rob Nen to hopefully stop the damage at 5-4. Nen faced Troy Glaus, who took Nen’s offering to left-center field over Barry Bonds head, scoring the tying and eventually winning run.

Reliever Troy Percival came in to close for the Angels in the top of the 9th and seized the greatest comeback in an MLB elimination game.

Game 6 proved to be the spark for the Angels who went on to win game 7 and the World Series.

Liverpool FC v. AC Milan: 2005 UEFA Champions League Final 

For those unfamiliar with the UEFA Champions League it is European professional soccer’s equivalent to the Super Bowl. The tournament places the greatest club teams in Europe against each other in a World Cup style format.

The 2005 edition of the Champions League found the English Premier League side Liverpool FC against the Serie A representative (Italy) AC Milan. The clash of the European titans was held at Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey.

AC Milan were considered the favorites in the match-up and in the opening minute of the game they found themselves up 1-0. The Italian side added two more goals in the half and went into their locker room with a 3-0 lead over the Reds of Liverpool.

With the almost impossible task of scoring 3 goals in 45 minutes it was all but certain that Liverpool would be the runners-up to the mighty AC Milan.

What transpired in the following 75 plus minutes has been referred to by many as the “Miracle of Istanbul”.

In a matter of six minutes Liverpool FC netted 3 goals to draw the game. Including a missed penalty shot by Xabi Alonso that he rebounded to seal the tie. AC Milan and Liverpool traded scoring chances with each other, but when the final whistle blew the teams went into extra time.

In extra time AC Milan had an incredible opportunity to gain advantage, and the Champions League title, when Andiry Shevchenko sent a blazing header right at Liverpool goalkeeper  Jerzy Dudek. Dudek deflected the header right back to Shevchenko, and with a few yards separating AC Milan from european glory Shevchenko took his second shot, and in an incredible display of reaction time Dudek deflected the ball over the crossbar and out of play.

120 minutes was not enough time to decide the champion of european football; penalties would be the final chapter of the this epic.

AC Milan would start the proceedings but failed to score in their first 2 shots. Liverpool having already reviving themselves from the dead, took their new life and capitalized with scoring on their first 2 attempts.

Milan was not ready to bow out yet; down 3-2 they had one chance remaining to keep penalties and their hopes alive. It was only fitting that Schevchenko who failed to capitalize in extra time stood face to face with Dudek yet again. Schevchenko went full speed at the ball, Dudek anticipating him going left dove towards that side. Shevchenko however drove the ball to the center of the goal, but it tailed just a little too much to the left and  Dudek was able to put a hand on the ball denying the Ukrainian striker yet again; giving Liverpool their 5 European tile, and finalizing one the greatest come from behind victories in not only UEFA history, but sporting history.

Those are my 3 favorites, which are yours of the past 10 years? Or even better, all time?

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About Stefan Jagot

22-year-old Broadcasting and Cinematic Arts Major at Central Michigan University. The jack of all trades for TheFarmClub.net.

View all posts by Stefan Jagot

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