With 2020 just hours away, it's time for Miami sports fans to reflect on the decade that was. Normally, a new year means turning the page on the past 12 months, but this time, we'll enter a new decade, which is more like finishing a chapter.
For Miami sports, the 2010-to-2019 chapter will be forever remembered as one that included some of the highest of highs and some extreme lows. Miamians have just about seen it all since 2010.
In what seems like the blink of an eye, LeBron James joined the Heat, and the Marlins' Jose Fernandez tragically died. In the past ten years, Miami sports fans experienced everything from the good to the bad, the painful to the extraordinary. It's hard to imagine a decade filled with a steeper roller coaster of sports moments.
It truly was, as they say, quite a time to be alive. Here are the most memorable Miami sports moments from the past decade, and here's to making new memories as we ring in 2020.
10. Miami beats Duke on an eight-lateral kickoff return as time expires (2015). It's hard to remember, but there was once a game involving the Miami Hurricanes that did not end in embarrassment and shame. In 2015, Miami was just a kickoff return away from losing to Duke. Then a miracle happened.
Miami desperately played keep-away with the ball for what felt like an entire minute until Corn Elder caught one last pitch and took it all the way to the house for a touchdown as time expired. After review, it was determined there weren't any blocks in the back, nobody's knee touched the ground, and all the pitches were legal(ish). Miami wins.
9. Ja'Quan Newton hits a running three from half-court to beat North Carolina at the buzzer (2018). Any time the Miami Hurricanes basketball schedule comes out, huge circles are drawn around the North Carolina and Duke games. Anyone and everyone will tell you those are the most important matchups outside of the postseason tournaments. So in 2018, when Miami walked it off on a half-court shot by Ja'Quan Newton as time expired on the road at North Carolina, it was like a mini version of a Heat buzzer-beater in the NBA Finals.
The basketball program gets overshadowed in Coral Gables, but this was one of the best local sports moments of the past decade. Ja'Quan Newton is cold for this.
8. The Miami Heat wins the "Harlem Shake" challenge (2013). The year was 2013, and the "Harlem Shake" challenge was all the rage. It seemed everyone — from local police departments to random dudes on YouTube dressed as Power Rangers — was putting on a dancing display. Eventually, the Miami Heat and LeBron James got involved, which was at the peak of their Big Three powers and in the middle of a season when they seemed unstoppable. Haters loved to hate the Miami Heat. It killed them to know the team was happy and having a ton of fun whipping opponents' asses every night.
The "Heatles" broke the internet with their awesome version of the "Harlem Shake," which still holds up today. What a time it was.
7. Dwyane Wade puts an exclamation point on his #OneLastDance with a circus buzzer-beater versus the Warriors (2019). For the Miami Heat, last season was all about Dwyane Wade's retirement tour. His #OneLastDance trot around the NBA was a distraction from yet another mediocre Heat season that ended in missing the playoffs. Heat fans were just thankful Wade was back after a year-and-a-half divorce that led to his signing with the Chicago Bulls and then eventually playing with LeBron in Cleveland. It was gross, and making it right felt great.
This circus buzzer-beater against the Golden State Warriors made it feel even better. For a night, Wade was back to his prime self, breaking teams over his knee as time expired and jumping on scorers' tables to celebrate the victory in his house.
There will never be another Dwyane Wade in Miami. This moment will always be the official cherry on top.
6. LeBron James stares into the Boston Celtics' souls and single-handedly saves the Big Three era from certain changes (2012). So many of your Miami Heat Big Three memories almost never existed — well, the good ones at least. Two titles and four straight NBA Finals appearances almost never happened, but thankfully, LeBron James went full demon-mode on the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of their 2012 playoff series, with Miami on the verge of elimination. The Heat went on to not only end the Celtics but also win two straight NBA championships.
LeBron finished the game with 45 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, and a ridiculous 19-26 from the field in the Heat's 98-79 win. Without that performance, Chris Bosh likely would've been traded in order to revamp the squad. Who knows what else would've happened. The performance will go down as one of the best in Miami sports history.
5. The Miami Miracle (2018). The Miami Dolphins don't deliver many great moments these days. Losing has become a way of life, and making the playoffs happens less often than a total solar eclipse. One day in 2018, though, the Dolphins pulled one of the most fantastic finishes in NFL history out of their collective ass.
Down 33-28 with seven seconds left on their own 31-yard line, the Dolphins were toast. Just another loss to the New England Patriots, it seemed. Ryan Tannehill dropped back, hit Kenny Stills for a quick 15-yard gain, and Stills flipped it to DeVante Parker, who found Kenyan Drake flying down the sidelines all alone.
The rest, as they say, was history. Rob Gronkowski tried to stop it, but he was too late. The Miami Miracle was a moment in time Miami sports fans will never forget.
4. Jose Fernandez dies in a tragic late-night boating accident (2016). Unfortunately, not all of our most memorable sports moments are happy. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez's death in a late-night boating accident is a moment we all wish we could forget. Most Miamians will remember exactly where they were when they learned of his passing. Most woke up September 25, 2016, and heard it on the news. It was one of those moments you just can't describe and hope you'll never have to experience again, if even from a fan's point of view.
Fernandez was destined for Hall of Fame greatness. It probably wouldn't have happened in Miami, but some team was about to pay him record MLB money to be the face of baseball in not just their city but also the entire world.
Gone too soon, Fernandez will never be forgotten for the short time he inspired "Jose Day" at Marlins Park. No one before or since has played the game with quite the same joy.
3. Dee Gordon blasts a lead-off homer in the Marlins' first game following Jose Fernandez's death (2016). Just days after Jose Fernandez passed away, another all-time Miami sports moment was made — this time, in a positive fashion. Sometimes the sun is brightest after the storm.
Dee Gordon stepped up to the plate as the lead-off hitter in the Marlins' first game back following a few days off for the team to digest what had just happened. Gordon wasn't, and still isn't, known for hitting home runs. On the third pitch of the game, though, he took Bartolo Colon deep to right field and, from just about the moment he smacked the ball, began to cry as he rounded the bases. By the time Gordon touched home plate, everyone with a beating heart was crying, including all of his teammates wearing Jose Fernandez jerseys.
You just can't write this stuff. This is what sports are all about.
2. LeBron James takes his talents to South Beach to join the Miami Heat (2010). Sometimes a moment is memorable because it marks the beginning of so many other moments. That was the case when LeBron James went on national television in the ESPN special "The Decision" and revealed he would join the Miami Heat.
Dozens of moments from the Big Three era could have made this list: incredible dunks, last-second buzzer-beaters, and even championships. But where it all began was the moment LeBron sat down, in a very distracting gingham shirt, and told the world he would join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.
When LeBron chooses to join your team in the prime of his career, it's pretty memorable. When he joins two All-NBA players, it's legendary. "The Decision" is a legendary sports moment, and not just for Miami.
1. "His shot won't go. Rebound to Bosh, back out to Allen — BANNNNNNNNNGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!" (2013). There are shots, and then there is The Shot. When it comes to memorable moments over the past decade, Ray Allen's incredible game-tying three that "got those yellow ropes out of here" in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals is head and shoulders above the rest.
So much is going on, but the focus is certainly on Chris Bosh snagging the greatest rebound in NBA history and Ray Allen, without looking, backpedaling to the exact spot on the floor he needed to be and nailing the biggest shot in NBA history. No big deal — just a series-saving, NBA-altering routing shot.
In the year 2050, this shot will still be played during the NBA Finals. When all-time clutch sports moments are discussed, this one will be the cream of the crop. Miamians got to experience peak sports at this moment. It'll go in New Times' "Most Memorable Sports Moments of the Past Century" article as well, we're sure.
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