Top Ten of the Decade: Miami Sports Moments
Riptide 2.0's regular sports commentator and FinsNation blogger Chris Joseph looks back at the top ten Miami sports moments of the decade. Low points like the Miami Dolphins crappy performance and the after-thought known as the Florida Panthers didn't make the cut. Sorry.
10. Canes Baseball
Coach Jim Morris and his University of Miami baseball program leave behind a decade of superiority that has largely been ignored by SoFla sports fans. Starting with an NCAA Tournament appearance every year this decade, the Canes also made the College World Series in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008 -- winning it all in '01. Crowned National Champions in 2001 and Conference Champions in 2008, The U has been the preeminent NCAA baseball program of the decade. Too bad no one noticed.
9. The Death of Sean Taylor
On November 26, 2007, the former Gulliver Prep and Miami Hurricanes football star succumbed to a gunshot wound in the leg inflicted by intruders in his Palmetto Bay home. In December of 2007, Taylor was posthumously named to the Florida High School Association All-Century Team, and was selected to the NFL Pro Bowl for the second time. At just 24 years of age, one of the NFL's brightest rising stars and one of Miami's brightest sons was taken from us far too soon.
8. Ricky Williams Quits Football
Just days before the start of training camp in the summer of 2004, the Dolphins star running back up and decided he no longer wanted to play professional football. It would later be revealed that Williams had failed a third drug test, testing positive for marijuana. A whirlwind of controversy followed. Angry fans railed against his decision to get high over playing for their team, local radio stations held rallies where Ricky Williams jerseys and memorabilia were destroyed. Williams went on to study holistic medicine; the Dolphins fell apart without him, going 4-12 on the season.
7. Miami Northwestern/St. Thomas Aquinas
High School National Champions in 2007 (Miami Northwestern) and 2008 (St. Thomas Aquinas), State titles, number one rankings by USA Today and ESPN, and national television exposure. A veritable factory for football excellence, these two schools bulldozed their way through the 2000s re-establishing South Florida as the go-to place for college football recruitment. In a word, dominant.
6. Heat Trade For Shaq
It stands as the biggest trade in Miami sports history - both literally and figuratively. As he made his way through the crowd at his welcome rally just outside the American Airlines Arena, water gun clenched in his mammoth hands, he doused the adoring throng with water as they reached out and tried to touch their new basketball messiah. He walked up onto the stage, stepped up to the mic and proclaimed, "I'm going to bring a championship to Miami. I promise you." In July of 2004, the Miami Heat shifted the balance of power in the NBA by trading for Shaquille O'Neal from the Los Angeles Lakers. Two years later, he would help lead Miami to its first NBA title, making good on his promise and establishing the once moribund Heat as a premier NBA franchise.
5. Dolphins Hire Bill Parcells
In the winter of 2007, the Dolphins hired Parcells to be their Executive Vice President of Football Operations after Dave Wannstedt, Nick Saban, and Cam Cameron effectively ran the once-proud franchise into the ground. Parcells cleaned house, brought in his own people, and established a winning culture back in Miami. Just one year removed from a 1-15 season under Cameron, Parcells' Dolphins went 11-5 and improbably won the AFC East championship, marking the greatest single-season turnaround in NFL history.
4. Miami Hurricanes 2001 BCS National Champs
After being denied a shot at the National Championship by the BCS computers in 2000, The U came back with a vengeance in 2001. Demolishing top ranked Syracuse, Washington, and Virginia Tech en route to an undefeated season. A stalwart recruiting class led by Ken Dorsey, Clinton Portis, Ed Reed, Andre Johnson, Sean Taylor and Jeremy Shockey brought swagger back to The U, and established the '01 squad as one of the greatest teams in NCAA history when they decimated Nebraska 37-14 in the BCS title game.
3. Orange Bowl Demolition
It hosted five Super Bowls, was home to the 5-time national Champion Hurricanes, as well as home to the Dolphins for their first 21 years of existence. Home to the longest winning steak in college football history, host of countless all-time classic pro and college games, and a raucous football atmosphere that will never be duplicated in this city, the Orange Bowl will forever be remembered as Miami's greatest sports landmark. But, after 71 years of rich history, it was time to say goodbye to the dilapidated, outdated old stadium. And so, in May of 2008, the OB was demolished. The Marlins' new retractable-roof stadium is being built in its place.
2. Marlins Win World Series
The Marlins improbable run to the 2003 World Series is stuff of baseball legend. From their Division Series win against the Giants, where the series was clinched on a collision at the plate when Ivan Rodriguez tagged out Giants first baseman JT Snow at home, to the NLCS and the infamous "Bartman" game where the Fish made an 8-run rally to help force a Game 7. It all culminated in the Fall Classic, where the Marlins took down the vaunted, heavily favored Yankees in six games. Jack McKeon's masterful managing, the Alex Gonzalez walkoff extra innings HR in Game 4, Josh Beckett's series clinching complete game shutout of the Yankees on their own field in Game 6 - it was magical end to a magical season.
1. Heat Win NBA Championship
The Dallas Mavericks put the Heat in an embarrassing 0-2 hole to start the 2006 NBA Finals. But in Game 3, facing a possible 0-3 deficit, down by 13 with only six minutes left in regulation, Dwyane Wade took over. And thus began one of the greatest performances by a single player in NBA Finals history. Wade led the comeback in Games 3 and 4 to tie the series at 2. In Game 5, D-Wade put on a clinic, pouring in 43 points and hitting the game-tying basket to force overtime, and the game clinching free throws to ice the game. Game 6 seemed like just a formality, as Miami closed the deal in Dallas, becoming only the third team in NBA history to win the Finals after being down 0-2. D-Wade was crowned Finals MVP, Shaq's legacy was cemented, Alonzo Mourning finally got his ring, and the city got its Biscayne Boulevard champions parade promised by Pat Riley when he arrived in 1995.
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