The 99 Most Memorable Sports Moments from the 90s: 75-51

July 15, 8:13 AM

theScore's 90s week countdown continues with a look at Nos. 75-51 in our 99 most memorable sports moments. You can view the first instalment here

It took clutch-and-grab and a handful of lockouts to knock the game off its pedestal, but there was a while there in the 90s where hockey really was considered one of the “big four.” The game is in good shape once again today, but in 1994 when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, Sports Illustrated put out this now-iconic cover, and it really meant something to hockey fans. 

- Justin Bourne

Every time anyone watches this play, inside they're still screaming "JUST HOLD THE BALL UP LEON! HOLD IT UP!”.

The play had no impact on the game whatsoever, one the Cowboys would win 52-17 to take Super Bowl XXVII in 1993 with ease as their early 90's juggernaut rolled along. But still, the combination of Leon Lett's overconfidence and Don Beebe's little-man hustle while completely ignoring the scoreboard lives on as one of the most famous plays in Super Bowl history. That memory is powered by sheer disbelief.

- Sean Tomlinson

You can’t have a conversation about the greatest finishes in college football without noting the “Miracle at Michigan” in 1994. Colorado pulled to within five of Michigan with under two and half minutes to go at the Big House. Several plays later, Kordell Stewart tossed up a 64-yard prayer with six seconds left on the clock, which Michael Westbrook pulled down to lead the No. 7 Buffaloes over the No. 4 Wolverines.

- Scott Lewis

In an incredible match, United looked likely to draw against Sheffield Wednesday in a crucial game late in the inaugural FA Premier League season. What followed after Steve Bruce’s equalizer was an incredible stretch of endless extra time, allowing Steve Bruce to score another which led to Sir Alex Ferguson briefly running out on the pitch after Brian Kidd, only to check himself and his dignity.

- Richard Whittall

For the Atlanta Braves, a hobbled Sid Bream beating a Barry Bonds throw from left field would mean an appearance in their second consecutive World Series. For the Pittsburgh Pirates, it was the end of the line for an assembly of some very good baseball players, and the beginning of a streak of 20 seasons in which the club failed to post a winning record. 

- Scott Lewis

"He's heating up," "He's on fire," and "Boomshakalaka!" Those phrases man far more to 90s kids than anything parents, teachers, and truant officers could have told them during the reign of the NBA Jam series of basketball video games. Midway eschewed the realism, rosters, and simulation experience that developers like EA Sports pursued throughout the decade, instead opting for a fun-filled arcade game that stands as one of the most popular sports games of all-time. 

- Scott Lewis

Tommie Frazier totalled 5,476 yards of offense and 79 touchdowns in parts of four years at Nebraska. He helped lead the Cornhuskers to two national titles in the 90s, but he’ll always be best remembered for one of the greatest runs in the history of college football. Frazier broke seven tackles on his way to a 75-yard run to the end zone in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, helping Nebraska to its second straight national title.

- Scott Lewis

A 90th minute World Cup goal of consummate, Bergkampian skill against Argentina which led to one of the most memorable clips in Dutch announcing history.

- Richard Whittall

Fox tossed its stick into the NHL broadcast rights game beginning in 1994. In an attempt to attract a new American audience, a tiny circuit board and battery were placed inside the puck to create FoxTrax (or glow puck), which translated to a purple hue surrounding the puck during the broadcast. A bluish trail followed the puck on passes and shots travelling at a speed of 70 miles per hour were accompanied by a red tail. Two years of incessant mocking from seasoned hockey fans proved to be enough, and the glowing puck was not brought back for the final year of Fox's NHL rights deal. 

- Scott Lewis

The year was 1998, and in the final minutes of the NFC Championship game the Minnesota Vikings led the Atlanta Falcons by a touchdown. A final late fourth-quarter drive to cement a win and the Super Bowl berth stalled, but the Vikings were still in field goal range for the sure-footed Gary Anderson. It was the same Gary Anderson who hadn't missed a field goal all season to that point, and was perfect on 39 attempts. So then of course he stepped up, and sailed one just slightly wide left. The Falcons followed with a game-tying touchdown and they won in overtime. Minnesota still hasn't been to a Super Bowl since 1976.

- Sean Tomlinson

Eric Cantona responded to a verbally abusive Crystal Palace in his own unique way: with a flying drop kick to the chest. Cantona was sentenced to two weeks in prison for the assault, which took place during the 1994-95 season. 

- Scott Lewis

It was 20 years of trying, and 20 years of frustration, but on February 15th, 1998, Dale Earnhardt Sr. won his first Daytona 500, NASCAR’s most prestigious race. Everyone in the sport knew of Earnhardt’s frustrations and heartbreaking finishes at the 500, so after crossing the start/finish line, everybody lined up on pit road to congratulate “The Intimidator” on his victory.

- Scott Johnson

There was more to Sergio’s 1999 PGA Championship than just this one shot. The 19-year old from Spain finished one shot behind Tiger Woods, finishing second in just his second major as a pro.

But more than the great play over four rounds, this shot -- swinging with his eyes closed -- and the sprinting, leaping chase to watch it land put Sergio Garcia on the map. A great moment and the beginning of a great career for Garcia.

- Drew Fairservice

Whether it was actually the flu or that shady Utah pizza ordered the night before, Michael Jordan was battling a nasty stomach ailment before Game 5 of the tied 1997 NBA Finals, and his availability for the game was even questioned.

Lo and behold, as the legend now goes, Jordan played 44 minutes to help the Bulls rally from an early 16-point deficit, pouring in 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block before memorably collapsing into Scottie Pippen’s arms with Chicago taking a 3-2 series lead back home.

- Joseph Casciaro

A collision with a New York Jets teammate in a 1992 game versus the Kansas City Chiefs resulted in a broken C-5 vertebrae for defensive lineman Dennis Byrd. Byrd was left temporarily paralyzed, but he would walk again. 

- Scott Lewis

During the 1993 Western Conference Final, the Toronto Maple Leafs found themselves a win away from their first Stanley Cup Final in 26 years. Wendel Clark dragged the team into overtime…when it happened. Wayne Gretzky high-sticked the Leafs best player, Doug Gilmour, in the face. There was even blood. In that era, that was a five minute major and an ejection. Fraser talked it over with his linesmen, decided not to make the call – it would have been a huge call to make – and as these things go, Gretzky’s scored the game winner just seconds later. If you know any Leafs fans, it comes up occasionally.

- Justin Bourne

It took some time for professional skateboarding to re-establish its foothold in popular culture via the magic of a big time TV contract. It needed a star and it needed moment, something never-before-seen that would translate to an audience still coming to understand a sport with counterculture roots.

Tony Hawk was that star and his 900-degree spin on the halfpipe during the best trick competition at the 1999 X Games was that moment.

In keeping with the skating ethos, his fellow skaters and competitors rushed to congratulate the legendary Hawk for taking down a “holy grail” within the vert world.

The world loves a record-setter. After was the kind of spectacle that generated incredible buzz for the sport and Hawk as well, who launched his signature line of video games just a few months later, becoming an icon who transcended his sport.  

- Drew Fairservice

Raghib “Rocket” Ismail left Notre Dame in 1990 after a season that saw him take home the Walter Camp Player of the Year award and finish second in Heisman Trophy voting. He was a potential No. 1 overall pick heading into the 1991 NFL Draft. 

Rather than pursue and NFL career straight out of college, Ismail followed dollar signs to Toronto with the CFL Argonauts instead. Former Argonauts owner Bruce McNall, and his partners Wayne Gretzky and John Candy, engineered an unheard of contract that paid Ismail $18.2 million over four years. The “Rocket” would last just two seasons in the CFL before bolting for the NFL. His 87-yard kick return touchdown helped Toronto topple Calgary by a final score of 36-21 to win the 1991 Grey Cup, with Ismail earning MVP honors.

- Scott Lewis

Total and complete domination. Just the second 20 strikeout game in baseball history, the first ever in the senior circuit. Rookie fireballer Kerry Wood mowed down the Astros in spectacular fashion.

On top of the 20Ks, Wood threw a one-hitter with just two walks in a tight game.  One of the greatest starts in the long history of the game.

- Drew Fairservice

In just their fifth season of existence, the Florida Marlins nabbed the Wild Card and dashed to the World Series title in seven games over the heavily-favored Cleveland Indians.

The Marlins famously blew up their roster after this unlikely win but Edgar Renteria’s solid single to center field will last forever. 

- Drew Fairservice

Few young men have ever physically dominated the NBA the way Shaquille O’Neal did with Orlando in the 90’s, and no moments highlight that physical domination quite like the big man literally destroying the basket and rendering it useless on numerous occasions. 

- Joseph Casciaro

Ninety feet to travel in less than five seconds. With his team down by one, UCLA’s Tyus Edney raced end to end to win the game, saving his number one seeded Bruins from huge upset, pushing them on to the Sweet Sixteen.  

- Drew Fairservice

Bills fans mostly remember the 90's through tears as they peer off a ledge. But the thing about losing four straight Super Bowls is you have to be good enough to get there four straight times, and along the way there's heroics aplenty. 

Quarterback Frank Reich was one of those heroes during Buffalo's 1992 Wild Card Weekend comeback win over the Houston Oilers, a comeback so improbable that it's been given the honor of a "THE" distinction (The Comeback). The Bills recovered from a 32-point deficit by scoring five second-half touchdowns to win 41-38, and four of those came on passes from Reich, including a 38-yard heave to Don Beebe.

- Sean Tomlinson

Brandi Chastain enjoyed a long and accomplished soccer career, but she's probably best known for her game-winning penalty kick versus China to win the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup. 

- Scott Lewis

Canada was eight years removed from their nightmare in Seoul, but the pain remained.

Ben Johnson’s gold never did end up coming home, but Donovan Bailey helped a nation forget on a hot night in Georgia. Bailey would go on to capture gold in the 4x100m men’s relay, putting memories of heartbreak on the track to rest for one country.

- Devang Desai

More:   99-76

Feature photo courtesy of theScore