With everyone and their mother coming out with decade lists, I figured I would chime in with my top 10 of the past 10 years. And what a decade it was for the Boston sports fan. 2000-2009 saw 6 championships, 3 from the Pats, 2 from the Sox, and 1 from the Celtics. Here are the top 10 events I will always remember from the past 10 years.
10) As most of my friends know, I am a die-hard Texas Longhorns fan. 2006 saw the Horns take down Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and the rest of the USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl to win the national championship. Vince Young was flat-out bestial in running for 200 yards and passing for 267 more. My bias aside, it might have been the most exciting college football game of all time.
9) In December of 2000, Dan Duquette inked Manny Ramirez to an 8 year $160 deal. Ramirez was a stud and helped the Sox bring 2 titles to Boston. He is arguably the best pure hitter of this generation. Ufortunately things soured with Ramirez in the last year of his contract and he was shipped out to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline of the 2008 season.
8) Game three of the 2002 NBA Eastern Conference finals was all but over going into the fourth quarter with the Nets on top of the Celtics by 21. Then Paul Pierce inserted his will upon the game and erupted for 19 points in the fourth quarter and led one of the greatest comebacks in Celtics history. A comeback or epic collapse is debatable, however it was one of the most exciting things I witnessed in the NBA.
7) February of 2005 saw the New England Patriots win back to back Super Bowls. They took down Terrell Owens and the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21. The Pats picked off Donovan McNabb 3 times and thus cemented themselves as the NFL dynasty of the 2000′s.
6) Thanksgiving of 2003 was a time for Red Sox to be especially thankful. We just didn’t know it yet. Theo Epstein sat down with Curt and Shonda Schilling for Thanksgiving dinner and convinced him to waive his no trade clause and come to Boston. Schilling promptly announced he was coming to Boston to win a World Series and beat up on the Yankees. Many had an attitude “we’ve heard this before and good luck pal.” But Schilling kept true to his word and through a bloody sock and all brought Boston its first World Series title since 1918.
5) The 2001-2002 AFC Divisional playoff game will forever be remembered as the “Tuck Rule” game. Tom Brady was sacked and fumbled the ball to the Raiders, game over. But with the magic of instant replay and a little known rule the Pats were catlike utilizing their nine lives. While many will remember this game for that reason, I will forever remember it because of Adam Vinateri’s game tying field goal in the driving snow and wind from 46 yards out. The degree of difficulty of that kick was outrageous let alone the pressure. He would later kick a much easier 23 yard field goal into overtime to win the game and sending Lonnie Paxton into the end zone celebrating via the snow angel.
4) 2008 was a dream matchup for the NBA Finals featuring the new look revamped Boston Celtics against Kobe Bryant and his LA Lakers. In game 4 the Celtics were down by 24 points on the road. While the trio of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce garnered all the headlines, it was Eddie House and James Posey who were huge in the come from behind win that pretty much buried the Lakers. Ray Allen made Sasha Vujacic look pretty silly as he crossed him over and hit the game winner with less than a minute left. While this was the most important moment of the series, Mike Breen’s call in Game 2 while the Celtics blew out the Lakers will always play in my head. “And the Celtics are flat-out EMBARASSING the Lakers!”
3) Danny Ainge finally brought in some help for Paul Pierce in the summer of 2008. What a supporting cast it was! The ping-pong balls went the wrong way for the Celtics in 2008 and they ended up with the 5th pick in the draft. This was a blessing in disguise. Ainge traded the 5th pick in the draft, Wally Sczerbiak and Delonte West for Ray Allen on draft night. Later on that summer Ainge turned and traded with Celtic great Kevin McHale. The Celts picked up Kevin Garnett in exchange for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, and Gerald Green. This paid immediate dividends as the Celtics won their 17th banner that season. Since the trade the Celts have flirted with 70 wins each season.
2) The most heart stopping event of the past decade came from the legs of Dave Roberts in 2004. After Kevin Millar worked a 4 pitch walk off of Mariano Rivera in the 8th inning Game 4 of the ALCS, Terry Francona summoned Roberts to pinch run. After 4000 throws over to first, Roberts took off and swiped second base. He was then knocked in by Bill Mueller and the Dead Sox became very much alive and pulled the greatest comeback in sports history coming back from 3 games down to beat the Yankees and move on to the World Series where they would handily beat the St. Louis Cardinals in 4 games.
1) The New England area had a period of time where they were pure dominant in sports. The Patriots won 3 Super Bowls defining themselves as a dynasty. The Red Sox erased 86 years of misery with not one World Series win but two. The Celtics picked up some hardware as well. The names Brady, Pierce, and Schilling will forever be remembered as Boston heroes. Boston sports fans were absolutely spoiled and most of us just haven’t realized yet. Actually we come to expect these kind of things from our teams. And why shouldn’t we? Boston is far and away the greatest sports city in the nation.
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