Ten Greatest Moments in Miami Sports History
How about those Dolphins? Er, Marlins? Oh, right, let's not talk about any current pro sports in Miami, because this is one of the darker moments in recent memory.
Instead, let's talk about some of the greatest moments in Miami sports history, shall we? And we aren't going to include notable things that other teams happened to do in town that were historic. Miamians do not care about Joe Namath winning the Jets their only Super Bowl or that one pass that Dough Flutie threw one time 30 years ago.
Here are the ten moments that actually make Miamians most proud.
Ugh, OK, That First Time the Marlins Won the World Series, Sure, Whatever
If this was virtually any other city, a World Series win would be higher on the list — top-five material for sure. It's the grandaddy of all sports championships in this great nation, and to be fair, it was exciting at the time. The Marlins tore through the playoffs as a wildcard team and won the series in stunning fashion during extra innings of game seven. It doesn't get much more exciting than that. Plus they became, at the time, the newest expansion team to clinch a title.
It's just that, well, the team ended up selling off the core of the roster right afterward, plunging the Marlins back into mediocrity, and did the same thing a few years later, in 2003. In fact, the team's two titles serve now more as the ironic punch line to the horribleness of this franchise during every other season in which it didn't win a World Series. They've never made it to a postseason in which they didn't win it all. Still, it was great at the time. We're pretty sure we still have our album of '97 Marlins trading cards somewhere in our parents' garage.
Miami Becomes a Four-Team City
For more than 20 years, the Miami Dolphins were the only major ticket in town. Then Miami experienced a renaissance in the '80s and maybe sports league officials were watching a lot of Miami Vice, because they couldn't stop giving us teams. We got the Heat in '88, and then both the Marlins and Panthers took off in '93. We went from a one-team town to joining the elite four-team club in a matter of six short years, which is basically unheard of. Of course, this led to some growing pains. We stuck an MLB team in an NFL stadium for almost 20 years. No one is still really sure whether it makes sense to have a hockey team in South Florida. But we've somehow supported each team just enough to keep them in town (cough-cough, unlike Atlanta), and once David Beckham figures things out, we'll soon be a five-team media market.
2001 Miami Hurricanes
Greatest college football team of all time? Greatest college football team of all time! On this Canes roster, 17 players went on to be first-round draft picks, and 14 years later, some of those guys are still playing in the pros.
But what really made this championship season so special, at least in retrospect, is that the Hurricanes claimed a national championship after enduring controversy after controversy and slipping temporarily back into averageness during the mid-to-late-'00s — which, of course, is something all Miami Hurricanes fans hope we can do again... soon.
Heat's First Championship
People are more likely to talk about our last two championships, but there's always something special about your first time. And dare we say that Dwyane Wade gave the single greatest performance by a player in a Miami Heat jersey during the finals to get the team there.
Various Wide Rights
We've made the case before that the Hurricanes-Seminoles rivalry is the greatest in all of college football. Heck, we could probably make a solid case that it's one of the greatest sports rivalries of all time. No matter the implications (and they're often big in the national title race), these two teams show up to play each other every year. Nothing illustrates that fact more than the oddly frequent instance of the game's decision coming down to a field-goal attempt — which the Seminoles' kicker always somehow misses.
Dolphins Draft Dan Marino
You can't talk about Miami sports history without talking about Dan Marino. Unfortunately, he never won the Miami Dolphins a Super Bowl —but hey, he did make us proud for almost 20 years and set a ton of records along the way.
LeBron Takes His Talents to South Beach
This period brought an excruciating amount of national hate and scrutiny to Heat fans, but one thing people seem to forget is that Heat fans really weren't expecting it. Sure, we had heard some online rumors. A couple of sports journos were swearing up and down on Twitter that LeBron was coming to Miami, but most observers viewed those reports with skepticism. Hell, just a few days before "The Decision," the only thing Miami Heat fans were praying for was that Dwyane Wade would re-sign with the team.
Then James sat down at that Boys & Girl Club and announced on ESPN that he was "taking his talents to South Beach." And we celebrated! Then we paused to wonder if James knew that the Heat doesn't actually play in South Beach but in downtown Miami. Then we celebrated some more. It was like winning the sports equivalent of the Power Ball lottery. This, of course, set off the next four years of the Big Three, four trips to the NBA Finals, two championships, and probably one of the most exciting, dramatic, and scrutinized eras any sports team (and their fans) ever endured.
Muhammad Ali Wins His First Heavyweight Championship in Miami Beach
The year was 1964, and the man who would become Muhammad Ali was then a championship-less boxer named Cassius Clay. Sonny Liston was the reigning champ and considered one of the greatest fighters of all time. So much so that it was hard to find any decent fighters who wanted to take him on in the ring. Ali, then just 22 years old, stepped up to the challenge to take on Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The media dismissed it as a mismatch, and then something funny happened: Ali won.
The 1984 Orange Bowl
The Miami Hurricanes' first national championship wasn't supposed to happen — and then it happened in the most perfect way possible. The '83 Hurricanes, then ranked fifth, were set to play the number-one-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers in their home stadium at the Orange Bowl. This was back during the time when the college football postseason wasn't even pretending to make sense. The team woke up that morning not expecting to end the day as the national champ, but the fourth- and second-ranked teams both lost their bowl games the same day, and the Hurricanes held off the Cornhuskers to secure a one-point victory and their first of five national championships in front of a home crowd.
The perfect season. Duh.
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