ESPN.comESPN.com's Page 2 writers provide their memories of the 100 moments ...
51Kerri Strug's heroic vault
Even as you read this, runners worldwide are readying for their turn in the relay that kicks off the Olympic Games -- the traditional carrying of Kerri Strug.
Each Olympics has a moment that becomes the symbol of the games and Strug's vault was that moment in 1996. Strug had a severe ankle sprain but because she was under the assumption that she needed to complete her vault for the U.S. women to win the team all-around, she flew down the runway anyway and literally vaulted into American sports lore.
Sports are filled with stories of men competing with injuries -- Bob Gibson once pitched on a broken leg -- and Strug showed that a tiny girl could be just as strong when she landed on the ankle, wobbled slightly and then stood tall and proud, an Olympic champion.
As she and the rest of the team accepted their gold medals, you could practically see the Wheaties boxes with her picture on it rolling off the production line.
53Ben Johnson flunks drug test, stripped of gold medal
One day, he was Canada's national treasure. The next day, he was Canada's international disgrace. A liar and a doper.
Despite the front-page headlines -- we're shocked, shocked! -- I don't recall thinking much of Johnson being DQ'd for doping. Everyone who followed track knew there were big problems with steroids. Everyone knew lots of guys (and gals) were artificially enhanced. The only real question was, "Who?"
Johnson had a long run in the 1980s when he was at or near the top, when he won medals (including a bronze in the 100 at the 1984 Olympics). It was a period in which he didn't just grab undeserved accolades (and endorsements) from archrival Carl Lewis, but also from others who finished third or fourth or fifth in his races, not far out of the money.
Carl Lewis got his second gold in the 100. Johnson was stripped not only of his medal, but also of his 1987 world record. Here's what almost nobody remembers, but should: Calvin Smith of the U.S., who finished fourth in the final with a 9.99 mark, won the bronze medal because Johnson was caught.
Lewis got another gold to add to his collection -- he deserved it. Smith got the prize he deserved. But what about Dennis Mitchell, who finished fourth in the 1984 Games? What about the many other talented, hard-training sprinters who never got their due because of Johnson's years of doping?
It was theft, pure and simple. And the stealing continues. Problem is, we still
don't know who's robbing who.
54John Elway leads Broncos on The Drive
All game I'd been rooting for the Browns. Chalk it up to my old-time love of Brian Sipe and Ozzie Newsome. Chalk it up to my sympathy for and fascination with Bernie Kosar's bow-legged goofiness. (After Craig Morton, has any quarterback ever looked so unlikely?)
But when the drive began, you could feel the call of history in it. You could sense that maybe finally Elway was becoming the Elway we'd known was in there since the Stanford days.
With each pass and scramble, it became more and more irresistible. If I'd been a hard-core Browns fan, it would have killed me, I'm sure. But I was casual, and my allegiances were shifting as the drive unfolded. I found myself rooting to see something great.
And Elway (and a little too much prevent defense) delivered.
I didn't become an Elway fan that day, but for those last few minutes, I was a
fan of the drive itself.
55Bird steals the ball, passes to DJ ...
What I remember, as a Lakers fan who'd seen Bird work his magic (and work my Magic) way too often, was that the steal felt inevitable.
It was a fluke play. None of the Pistons come back for the ball? Isiah floats one? Dennis Johnson is right there for Bird's pass and the layup? It all seemed impossible only half a second earlier.
But on the other hand, it was no fluke. It was just Bird being Bird. And in that way, it was absolutely predictable. It was the only way it could go.
I was no Pistons fan, but my heart that day was with whomever the Celtics were playing.
And, just as if he'd drained a 3-pointer over my beloved Michael Cooper, Bird put a dagger through it.
Same old, same old.
56Cal Ripken homers in final All-Star Game
It didn't mean a darn thing in the record book. It doesn't count on his lifetime totals, doesn't go on the back of the baseball card. It was just a home run in a meaningless exhibition game (remember, this was two years before "this time it counts").
But Cal Ripken home run in the 2001 All-Star Game was still pretty special.
By the time 2001 rolled around, Ripken had played in 19 All-Star Games (including 1994 when he played every inning) and become such a symbol for all that is good in baseball that he should have been standing in an Iowa cornfield talking about the beauty of the game. Because his Orioles were so bad his final years, though, we almost never saw him on the national stage anymore. So that All-Star Game in Seattle was the last chance we would be able to say goodbye.
And in typical Cal fashion, he left us thinking he could go on playing forever when he drove a pitch from Chan Ho Park over the left-field fence. A home run in his final All-Star Game. It seemed so hokey that conspiracy theorists on the Internet suggested that Park grooved him the pitch.
He didn't groove it, though. Didn't need to. That was just Cal, rising to the occasion as usual. Just as when he homered in the game he tied Lou Gehrig's playing streak. Just as he homered the next night when he broke Gehrig's record. Just as he so often did during his 20-year career.
The All-Star home run was a special moment in that career. And it almost was as memorable as Vladimir Guerrero's broken bat knocking Tommy Lasorda on his rear.
57Mize chips in from 140 feet to win '87 Masters
Two great stories for the price of one: Larry Mize, hometown boy, wins with an incredible shot, beating first Seve Ballesteros and then Greg Norman, in a playoff. Unbelievable. Mize had developed a rep as a choker, and delivered. He had not won another major -- in fact, had won just once previously on the PGA Tour -- but if there was going to be one, just one, this was it.
Greg Norman. What can you say? He's exhibited more grace at Augusta than perhaps any other golfer in Masters history. He's had extraordinary opportunities to do so: the close loss to Nicklaus in 1986, to Mize in 1987, the meltdown in 1996.
But how classy was Norman? In the 1986 PGA Tournament, he'd lost to a miracle bunker shot by Bob Tway. After losing to Mize's miracle shot, a reporter asked him how he felt, being felled by two great miracle shots in consecutive majors.
Dumb question. Great answer: "Well, at least I was there."
58Dying Mantle says he's no role model
For some people, it's Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle. For others, it's Maris vs. Mantle. Still more fans think of the great New York center-field debate: Willie, Mickey or the Duke?
I think of Mickey and Jim -- as in Bouton. We found out, way too late, that Mantle was never offended by "Ball Four." That it was the Yankee brass and other Protectors of the Realm that made Bouton a pariah, not Mantle, as so many suspected.
Mantle knew what I knew, when I first read the book at age 12: that The Mick, great as he was on the field, was perfectly human off the field. He could be charming and likable, he could pull pranks with the best of them, he could be nasty, he could drink. But most of all, he could be -- wanted so badly to be -- one of the boys.
I remember being moved by the "don't be like me" news conference, becoming a
little bit of a Mickey Mantle fan during the last weeks of his life. Here
was a great man, by many of our standards, apologizing for not just one bad
deed, or two, but pretty much for who he was as an adult.
And it was sad to hear him say he'd spend the rest of his life giving back,
knowing, just from looking at him, that he wouldn't even have time for a
sacrifice bunt or two.
59Chris Webber's timeout hands title to North Carolina
Bill Veeck once said that he knew what would be the first sentence in his obituary -- "The man who sent a midget up to bat" and the same is true for Chris Webber. That spring night in 1993 Webber guaranteed that he will always be remembered first for one thing. Not the Fab Five's enormous talent. Not for the subsequent scandal at Michigan. Not for his occasionally spectacular, often controversial NBA career. Not for anything else he does the rest of his life.
No, he'll always be the guy who called a timeout in the final seconds of the Final Four championship game when Michigan didn't have any left.
I bet they even reminded him of it during that grand jury thing.
GRAND JURY: Do you swear the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
WEBBER: I do.
GRAND JURY: If at any point you're unsure with your response to a question, you can ask us to stop while you consult your lawyer. Is that clear?
GRAND JURY: Just make sure you have enough timeouts left when you do.
60Keith Smart's shot wins NCAA title for Indiana
The great thing about Smart's shot was that he wasn't the golden boy. he wasn't Jordan. He wasn't Alford. He was a JuCo transfer most of us had never heard of, a guy who'd come out of nowhere and would be gone from the radar just as quickly.
But in that one instant, with the title on the line and
the eyes of the hoops world upon him, he came up just as true and blue and
big as any legend ever had. There was something pure about it, something
Jordan's shot five years earlier didn't have, something Alford couldn't have
given us. It was Keith Smart. And who the hell was Keith Smart? He was just a
shooter in a moment, a guy who let it go and followed through and found the
bottom of the net.