haizon/iStock(NEW YORK) -- From Usain Bolt burning up the track to Odell Beckham Jr. defying physics to the U.S. women's soccer team in Paris, there were plenty of sports moments to remember as the decade draws to a close.
Here are some of the biggest sports stories from 2010 to 2019:
1. Usain Bolt, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics -- Bolt, a sprinter from Jamaica, changed the sport of sprinting throughout the decade. Never was his dominance more evident than in London when he walked into the Olympics as something of an underdog -- despite becoming a worldwide celebrity following the 2008 games. He had lost in his country's qualifiers to up-and-coming star Yohan Blake before heading to London. But big-time stars come up big in big-time situations. The fastest man on the planet came out of the gates slow -- not unusual -- before passing American Justin Gatlin and Blake and shattering the Olympic record. Bolt cruised -- literally, taking a chance to peek at his rival Blake before the line -- to gold in the 200-meter final and then earned a three-event sweep with a gold in the 4x100-meter relay. After the 100-meter final, he called himself the "greatest athlete to live." Four years later, it was pretty impossible to argue he wasn't at least in the discussion. Bolt completed another three-event sweep in 2016 at the Rio Olympics just two days before his 30th birthday. By 2017, he'd won every 100-meter race he'd entered for four years. And while he lost at the 2017 world championships, the 2012 and 2016 Olympics will go down in history forever.
2. Chicago Cubs win the World Series -- finally! -- After Bartman, black cats, billy goats and 108 years, the Chicago Cubs finally won a World Series title in 2016. Back in 1908 -- the last time they'd won a title -- Ford's Model T went on sale for a mere $825, pistol duels were in the London Olympics and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" (now performed at every Cubs game) was officially released. Suffice to say, a lot changed. General manager Theo Epstein was in his fifth year at the helm of the Cubs and had brought in manager Joe Maddon one year prior. The pair led the Cubs to a 103-win season, an NLCS title and a spot in the World Series. But they'd done that in 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938 and 1945. Chicago faced the Cleveland Indians and fell behind 3-1 through the first four games. But Jon Lester and Aroldis Chapman -- acquired from the New York Yankees at the trade deadline -- stepped up in Game 5; Addison Russell drove in six runs in Game 6; and eventual MVP Ben Zobrist drove in the winning run in extra innings to give the Cubs a title in seven games.
3. Simone Biles owns the 2016 Rio Olympics -- Can you count to 25? Simone Biles dominated most of the decade of gymnastics -- hence the record 25 world championship medals attained by 2019 -- but finally got a chance to break out in prime time at the Rio Olympics. All she did was win four golds, including the individual and team all-around. Her performance on the floor, also a gold, introduced the world to her eponymous "Biles" -- a double layout salto with a half twist. The 4-foot-11 Biles has achieved something just as rare in gymnastics: sustained dominance. In a sport often-dominated by one-Olympic wonders, she's an overwhelming favorite entering the next decade at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
4. Malcolm Butler seals Patriots' Super Bowl XLIX win -- The Seattle Seahawks trailed, 28-24, with 27 seconds left in Super Bowl XLIX. It was second-and-goal from the 1-yard line. So, of course, they handed the ball off to running back Marshawn Lynch and capped a brilliant, game-winning drive. Right? Well, no, not if you're head coach Pete Carroll. Instead, Russell Wilson dropped back to pass and looked for wide receiver Ricardo Lockette on a slant. He found Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler instead. The pick sealed the Super Bowl win to cap the 2014-15 season and earned Patriots quarterback Tom Brady his fourth ring (but first of the decade). He'd go on to win two more.
5. Odell Beckham breaks physics -- The catch didn't mean much in the end, but on Nov. 23, 2014, we got one of the most lasting images of the decade in sports. The New York Giants drafted Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round in 2014, hoping to inject some life into an aging offense. On a Sunday night, in front of a massive TV audience, the rookie receiver scored his second touchdown of the game against the rival Dallas Cowboys in the most spectacular fashion imaginable. He somehow contorted his body backward, while being flagrantly held by Cowboys corner Brandon Carr, and extended his right arm behind his head to snag a 43-yard pass out of the sky by just the tips of his fingers. The Giants went on to lose the game (despite 146 receiving yards from OBJ), but some moments are bigger than wins and losses. Beckham's legacy in the league has yet to be fully written, but this catch will be replayed forever.
6. Villanova's Kris Jenkins hits a walk-off, title-clinching 3-pointer -- Villanova's men's basketball team had been known for the better part of two decades as a scrappy, guard-driven team led by Jay Wright on the bench. They were also known as a team that underperformed when the NCAA tournament came around. All of that changed in the 2016 title game against North Carolina and its collection of McDonald's All-Americans. With 4.7 seconds left in a tied game, 74-74, the Wildcats inbounded the ball to Ryan Arcidiacono, who dribbled to midcourt and flipped it to teammate Kris Jenkins. Jenkins had 14 points in the game, but it was the last three that will be remembered for all time. He took the pass from Arcidiacono and drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Tar Heels and win the team's first NCAA championship since 1985.
7. U.S. women's soccer wins the 2019 World Cup -- National pride and a fight for gender equality combined for a mic-drop performance as the U.S. women's soccer team ran through the competition at the women's World Cup in Paris in the summer of 2019. The team's eclectic mix -- including Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz -- only made the U.S. like them more. The team opened with a 13-0 win over Thailand, but eventually had to run through European powerhouses Spain, France -- the home country -- and England to make the final. They wrapped it up with a 2-0 win over the Netherlands and a parade down the Canyon of Heroes in front of hundreds of thousands of fans -- many chanting "Equal pay! Equal pay!" -- in New York City.
8. Ray Allen saves the Heat's repeat titles -- LeBron James was the best player on the Miami Heat in 2012-13, and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh rounded out the Big 3. But it was the greatest 3-point shooter in NBA history who saved the Heat's season and eventually earned the King his second straight title. It was Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. The San Antonio Spurs led the Heat three games to two. Tim Duncan, the greatest power forward in NBA history, posted 25 points on 11-of-13 shooting in the first half. The Spurs led by 10, 75-65, entering the fourth quarter. James took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 points, but the Heat still trailed by three with 19.4 seconds left. James, of course, took the shot to tie it up with under 10 seconds left -- but it ended up being Ray Allen who bailed out the Heat. Bosh grabbed the rebound off James' miss and handed it off to the veteran guard, who drilled the game-tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left. The shot forced overtime, led to a Heat win and -- after an easy Game 7 win -- an NBA title.
9. Steph, Klay and Kevin change NBA calculus -- It only takes until about kindergarten to learn that three is bigger than two. But it took the sure-shooting Golden State Warriors to make that math work in the NBA. Two lightly recruited college players -- Davidson's Stephen Curry and Washington State's Klay Thompson -- brought high-tempo, 3-point basketball to the Bay Area. Later joined by superstar Kevin Durant, the Warriors won three titles (2015, 2017, 2018), set a single-season record for wins in 2015-16 (73) and went to five straight NBA Finals. After a devastating, 3-games-to-1 choke against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, all they did was win 8-of-9 NBA Finals games the next two seasons. At just 31, Curry is already third all-time in NBA history in 3-pointers.
10. UConn women's basketball shoots 5-for-10 -- For pure dominance, it's hard to match the UConn women's basketball team, led by Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma, which won five championships in the decade (2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016). The streak includes four titles in a row for a team led by Breanna Stewart, who won every single year she was in college. She went 151-5 in her career and was the player of the year three times. The versatile, 6-foot-4 wing is now dominating the WNBA as a member of the Seattle Storm. She won the league MVP and a league title in 2018. UConn stars from this past decade dot the WNBA with Maya Moore, Tina Charles, Tiffany Hayes and Kia Nurse all leading their teams.
Michael Phelps continues racking up gold: For a guy who started his Olympics career in 2000, it's hard to believe he makes the list of the best of this decade three Olympic Games later. He didn't enter the 2012 Games expected to repeat his historic eight golds from Beijing, but he still added four golds and two silvers to his unmatched medal haul in London. He retired after those games, content to rest on his 22 Olympic medals and 18 golds. For, oh, two years. The greatest Olympian of all time returned to the 2016 Olympics and added five more gold medals and one silver when he was expected to take a much-earned victory lap simply.
Chicago Blackhawks win three Cups: In the NBA, NFL and NHL at least one franchise won three titles in the decade. In the NBA, it was the Golden State Warriors; in the NFL, it was the New England Patriots; and in the NHL, it was the Chicago Blackhawks. The most underrated coach in sports, Joel Quenneville, led Chicago to Stanley Cup titles in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith became household names leading a workman-like team, reflecting the city it calls home, to six-game series victories each time.
Ogunbowale drills back-to-back championship buckets: Just one game-winning shot in an NCAA tournament is rare enough. Arike Ogunbowale decided to do it twice -- in back-to-back games -- in the semifinal and final. The Notre Dame guard led her Fighting Irish to the school's second-ever championship in 2018 with a game-winning 3-pointer against Mississippi State with just 0.1 seconds on the clock. Two days earlier, she did the same against undefeated -- and allegedly unbeatable -- UConn by hitting a deep jumper in overtime with exactly 1 second on the clock.
Jeremy Lin phenomenon: Tabloid back pages in New York City screamed with one phrase in February 2012: Linsanity! The league, and in fact the most populous country in the world, were captivated by Harvard-product Jeremy Lin's out-of-nowhere emergence for the New York Knicks in the second half of the 2011-12 NBA season. Lin was a developmental league player and almost cut by the Knicks before injuries and dumb luck led to a star-making turn. It started on Feb. 4 with a 25-point, seven-assist performance in Brooklyn against the rival Nets. The legend of the point guard only grew from there. He scored 28 points in his next game -- his first career start -- as All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire missed the game. The Knicks continued winning and Lin continued his insanity. He scored 38 points against the Lakers on Feb. 10 and hit a game-winning 3-pointer against the Toronto Raptors on Valentine's Day. Four days later, he had 28 points and 14 assists against the Dallas Mavericks. But cut off by the All-Star break, the firing of head coach Mike D'Antoni and a knee injury, his season ended early. He never reclaimed his magic, bouncing around the league for six more seasons.
Sid the Kid wins it on home ice: Three Winter Olympics ago, Vancouver kicked off the first huge worldwide sporting event of the decade. And of course, it being in Canada, the only gold medal that mattered for the host nation was ice hockey. So why not win it with a sudden death, overtime goal by the country's biggest star: Sidney Crosby? The final pitted the U.S. against Canada in an edge-of-your-seat matchup that saw the U.S. rally from down 2-0 to narrow the gap to 2-1 on a goal by Ryan Kesler entering the final period. Improbably, Zach Parise managed to squeeze a rebound goal past Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo with just 25 seconds left in regulation to force OT. But it was not to be for the Americans. Jerome Iginla fed Crosby for a goal seven minutes into the extra period and he was raising his arms in victory, bouncing off the boards, seconds later.
One out away for the Texas Rangers: Nelson Cruz will likely join the Baseball Hall of Fame once he retires (whenever that may be). But unfortunately for Texas Rangers fans, he'll always occupy a dark spot in their hearts for Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. With the team one out -- actually one strike -- away from a championship against the St. Louis Cardinals, the right fielder misplayed a David Freese line drive that allowed two runs to score. With it, a Game 6 win evaporated and the Rangers lost Game 7 by a score of 6-2 to give the franchise its 11th World Series title.
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