Boston has witnessed its fair share of great moments in sports, but which one is the greatest of them all? Fans will make that call by voting on NESN.com and narrowing the field of 64 down to one. The people’s choice will be announced Sept. 26.
Before then, we asked a group of some of NESN’s finest — from producers to editors to reporters — to offer their picks.
Here they are.
Tom Glennon, senior producer, NESN: Patriots’ drive to win Super Bowl XXXVI
Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal in the Super Bowl against the Rams. That singular moment ended 15 years of sports suffering in New England and started what has become a wave of success in the Boston sports scene ever since. It’s the day we went from Loserville to Title Town.
I actually was alive for that one, but in terms of iconic status, nothing beats Bobby Orr flying through the air and clinching the 1970 cup.
Mike Hurley, senior assistant editor, NESN.com: Dave Roberts’ steal in 2004 ALCS
If Bobby Orr didn’t score that goal, the Bruins still win the 1970 Stanley Cup, no doubt. If Dave Roberts is even a millisecond late on his headfirst dive into second base, the Red Sox get swept in the 2004 ALCS and we still might be waiting for the end of the “Curse.”
What made Roberts’ 90-foot scamper so special was that despite all the odds stacked against the Red Sox – the 3-0 series deficit, 4-3 game deficit, Mariano Rivera on the mound – we all somehow knew that if Roberts could steal that base, the Red Sox could pull off a comeback. Jorge Posada’s throw was perfect, as was Derek Jeter’s tag, but it didn’t matter. Dave Roberts stole second base, and the Red Sox never looked back.
Ben Watanabe, assistant editor, NESN.com: Patriots’ drive to win Super Bowl XXXVI
For a generation of Boston fans born in the early to mid-1980s, a championship was just a rumor of something the Celtics used to get a lot. Realistic fans had stopped even dreaming about a Red Sox World Series. Then the Patriots shocked the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI and anything seemed possible. All it took was the Pats opening the floodgates to usher in the greatest era in Boston sports history.
Tony Lee, Red Sox reporter, NESN.com: Patriots’ drive to win Super Bowl XXXVI
First of all, imagine trying to pull something like this in a place like Seattle or Milwaukee or Kansas City or Cleveland, or even larger markets like Houston and Miami. The fact that 64 great moments like this even exist and that many others didn’t even make the cut (Larry Bird smashing his face against the parquet in the ’91 playoffs, only to return and finish off the Pacers?) says so much about Boston’s rich sports history.
When I am on my rocker sipping Metamucil and pondering this history of sports in this town, it will inevitably cause me to think back to the first decade of the 21st century and how the city dominated the sports landscape. One team had to start it all, and that team was the Patriots, whose remarkable game-winning drive in Super Bowl XXXVI not only altered the atmosphere in Boston, but gave birth to one of the town’s greatest all-time athletes. One day, if not already, Tom Brady will be up there with Bobby and Larry and Ted and Bill and Red and Carl. That drive was his — and perhaps the city’s — most dramatic, defining and truly altering sports moment.
Ricky Doyle, assistant editor, NESN.com: Red Sox win 2004 World Series
I’m a fan of underdogs, and I’m a fan of comebacks. So, needless to say, I’m a fan of what the 2004 Boston Red Sox were able to accomplish. If you ask me (which you are), their World Series victory is hands-down the greatest moment in Boston sports history.
Being the young gun that I am, I wasn’t around for some of the team’s closest championship encounters — most notably the 1986 World Series. But the anguish of Sox fans everywhere was too strong to avoid, particularly after Aaron Boone’s home run in 2003.
So when the 2004 Sox were able to capture the franchise’s first World Series win in 86 years, it was more than just a joyous occasion. The victory lifted a colossal weight off not only the team’s shoulders, but off the city’s shoulders.
Prior to that point, regardless of how many Boston championships were won, there was always the thought, “Could you imagine what it’ll be like when the Sox win a World Series.” The 2004 team finally answered that question.
The 2001-02 Patriots started the city’s championship trend this past decade, but the ’04 Sox solidified it.
Dan Duquette, Jr, assistant editor, NESN Nation: Patriots’ drive to win Super Bowl XXXVI
My pick for best moment is the Patriots’ game-winning drive in Super Bowl XXXVI.
As Boston sports fans, we’ve been spoiled lately. The Bruins are Stanley Cup champions, the Red Sox lead the American League and the Patriots look like Super Bowl contenders once again.
But back in 2001, it was a different time.
We were three years away from healing our Red Sox heartache, seven years away from the Celtics raising another banner and 10 years away from watching Zdeno Chara wobble under the weight of a Stanley Cup.
When Adam Vinatieri’s field goal split the uprights and the Patriots won, everything changed.
All of the sudden, Boston had some swagger. The New England Patriots were world champions.
We’ve never looked back.
Eric Ortiz, senior editor, NESN.com: Red Sox win 2004 World Series
Many Red Sox fans cried on Oct. 27, 2004. And for the first time in 86 years, the salty drops were not tears of heartbreak. After sweeping the Cardinals in the World Series, the Red Sox were world champions again. Generations upon generations upon generations celebrated a moment they had dreamed about since 1918 but never thought would come. The 2004 Fall Classic win did not erase 86 years of suffering for the Red Sox, but the title closed the chapter on the most excruciating drought in Boston sports history and turned a curse into a blessing.
Randy Scott, host, NESN Daily: Rick Pitino resigning from Celtics
There are far more obvious choices for NESN’s Greatest Boston Sports Moment, and there are also more deserving selections. Roberts steals second, Brady’s non-fumble in the snow and the Vinatieri heroics that followed, Havlicek steals the ball and Bird steals the in-bounds pass for one of the greatest, most clutch assists of all time.
Bobby freaking Orr, Nathan “Freaking” Horton and Tim “Freaking” Thomas have to also be in this discussion. But I’ll leave my far more talented colleagues to illuminate you on those deserving selections. I, instead, choose to tell you about the day the Celtics began the climb back to greatness.
The day Rick Pitino walked out that door.
For some reason, the Celtics had given an absolute monster contract and the kind of personnel carte blanche that has since become a cautionary tale in front offices across the major sports. When he left, — midseason I might add — he still had a ridiculous 6.5 years and $27 million left on his contract. For that colossal windbag to leave town with his hair-gelled tail between his legs and the sham of a roster (that he drafted!) left to struggle on… that should tell you all you need to know.
It took the Celtics eight years, a new front office and a phenomenal coach to undo the mess he made. The Celtics are not only better for him being gone, but they’re worse for having his name ever associated with the franchise.
John Beattie, associate editor, NESN.com: Bobby Orr’s game-winning goal in 1970 Stanley Cup final
‘Nuff said, right?
Not only is this moment immortalized as a statue outside of the TD Garden, a photo of it is hung up in every single self-respecting Mancave around the world. The goal gave the Bruins a Stanley Cup clinching victory and made Bobby Orr the face of Boston Bruins hockey — but after Orr’s game-winning tally, the region’s hockey scene exploded, making New England one of the premiere puck regions in North America. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Ted Williams was long retired and Bill Russell hung ‘em up just a year earlier. The city needed its king and Orr, leaping through the air, took the throne.
Mike Cole, assistant editor, NESN.com: Dave Roberts’ steal in 2004 ALCS
For me, it has to be Dave Roberts’ steal of second base in the 2004 American League Championship and the ensuing comeback for the Red Sox. At the risk of sounding nearsighted when looking at over a century of sports history, it was Roberts’ steal that set in motion not only the greatest comeback in sports history, but also the beginning of the end of an 86-year title drought.
In the moments, innings and games following Roberts’ steal, we were treated to some of the other unforgettable moments, some of which are on this very list. Without the steal, there Bill Mueller doesn’t hit a game-tying single. Without it, there is no David Ortiz walk-off magic. There is no bloody sock. There is no Johnny Damon grand slam in Game 7. And there is no “Stabbed by Foulke…”
The steal gave life to a team and its fan base that needed it badly. Even more importantly, it gave both a new sense of belief, hope and faith, feelings that were rewarded for the first time in 86 years just a week later.
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