The other day, I fell down that all-too-familiar YouTube rabbit hole of great sports plays. What started as an innocent search of “Allen Iverson best moments” got incredibly out of hand, so much so that whisked me back to memories of athletes I had long since forgotten about (see: Eric Snow, Scott Spiezio, Mats Sundin) and overall, an era of sports that’s firmly in the rearview. And it got me thinking; with early aughts legends like Shaquille O’Neal, Mike Piazza, and Mario Lemieux all well into the sunset — and with the younger, promising stars reaching the conclusion of their careers (see: Derek Jeter) — the early 2000s now feels like almost a completely different era.
To relive the magic (and provide a built-in YouTube rabbit hole), I’ve compiled some of the more memorable sports moments that went down between the years 2000-2004. This isn’t so much a “greatest plays” list as it is mish-mash of things that exemplify the everlasting power of great sports and great athletes; regardless of the era:
1.Allen Iverson’s “Stepover”
When A.I. wasn’t talking about practice or being largely responsible for the implementation of that silly dress code, he was busy being one of the most electrifying guards in NBA history. We haven’t really seen another player like Iverson — and quite frankly, we may never will.
2. T.O. Celebrates On The Star
Between Randy Moss, Chad OchoCinco, and T.O., the 2000s was an incredible decade for WR antics. T.O. was the trailblazer.
3. Ray Borque Lifts The Stanley Cup
After a grueling 7 game series against the Devils, the early 2000s Avs Dream team of Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, and Patrick Roy captured Lord Stanley’s Cup.
But by far, the highlight of the victory was the Ray Borque moment; Borque, a defensive legend and 22-year veteran, finally got the chance to lift the Stanley Cup.
4. Randy Johnson And The Exploding Bird
Randy Johnson threw really fast. One time, a bird got in the way.
5. Duke vs. Maryland: The Miracle Minute
Exhibit 437 that $$$$$$$$ is making college sports really sad: in addition to the demise of the Big East, these two bitter rivals are no longer in the same conference.
Here’s one of the most incredible minute stretches in basketball history — Duke, down by 10 with 54 seconds remaining, somehow came all the way back and ended up securing the victory in OT.
6. 2002 World Cup: David Beckham’s Stoppage Time Goal
England needed a goal to advance. In stoppage time, David Beckham lived up to his legend.
7. Air McNair, And Almost The Greatest Drive In Football History
That first Giants vs. Pats Super Bowl was so great, its unintentionally overshadowed another great 2000s Super Bowl.
Still surging from the Music City Miracle, Air McNair and the Tennessee Titans needed to execute a perfect two minute drill in order to beat Kurt Warner and the upstart Rams. Despite a number of incredible plays by McNair, the Titans ended up falling one. yard. short.
8. Vince Carter Dunks Over Frederic Weiss
You might not have forgotten about this one — this went down 14 years ago, but it’s probably STILL the greatest dunk of the 21st century.
9. Brett Favre’s MNF To Remember
Before ESPN turned into the Aging Brett Favre Hour, he was actually one of the best quarterbacks in NFL History. One of his most memorable NFL moments came during a Monday Night Football game against the Raiders. Only one day after the passing of his dad, Favre exploded for 399 yards and 4 TDs in one of the most inspired performances in recent memory
(Note: 399 yards was a lot more impressive 10 years ago, when NFL rules let defenders play defense)
10. 2003 Fiesta Bowl: Maurice Clarrett Saves The Drive
A long time ago, Maurice Clarrett was touted to be the next great NFL running back. This play, one of the best moments in an incredible National Championship game, shows why.