St. Patrick's Day: Luckiest Moments in Sports History


Mar 17, 2023

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! On this day, our thoughts turn to leprechauns, four-leaf clovers, green beer, and, yes, the Luck of the Irish. To that end, sports history is littered with moments where Lady Luck has turned the tide. 

Here are some of my favorites.

Jerry West Hits 60-Footer

Trailing 102-99 in Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks, LA Lakers legend Jerry West made a remarkable 60-foot half-court shot to send the game into overtime. The Lakers went on to lose 111-108, but West’s last-second heave remains an all-time classic. Just another reason why he is the logo.

Babe Ruth Calls His Shot

We may never know if Babe Ruth was pointing to the outfield or simply gesturing toward Chicago Cubs pitcher Charlie Root before his iconic home run. Nevertheless, the moment defined Ruth’s legendary career and will continue to live in sports infamy.

David Tyree’s Helmet Catch

David Tyree became a New York Giants legend thanks to his unforgettable “Helmet Catch” in the final two minutes of Super Bowl XLII. Tyree’s heroics, which proved to be the final reception of his NFL career, propelled the Giants to an upset victory, spoiling the New England Patriots’ shot at perfection.

Dallas Stars Win Stanley Cup in Controversial Fashion

Brett Hull’s 1999 Cup-winning goal in Game 6 remains one of the most controversial in NHL history. Replay clearly showed Hull’s skate was in the crease, but the goal stood as NHL rules deemed the Hall of Famer to be in possession of the puck. Dallas Stars fans erupted in jubilation, and the Buffalo Sabres faithful were left wondering what might have been.

Spurs Win 1997 Draft Lottery

Before the 1996-1997 campaign, the San Antonio Spurs had made the playoffs eight straight years. That streak came to an end due to an injury to star center David Robinson as San Antonio finished with the league’s third-worst record. However, Robinson’s injury proved to be a blessing in disguise as the Spurs won the 1997 Draft Lottery, aka the Tim Duncan sweepstakes. Robinson and Duncan would go on to form the formidable “Twin Towers.” I’d say that worked out pretty well.

Maradona’s Hand of God

“A little with the head of Maradona, a little with the hand of God.” That was Diego Maradona’s response to his infamous “Hand of God” goal during a quarterfinals match against England in the 1986 World Cup – a goal that would not have counted had instant replay been available at the time. Argentina won the match 2-1 en route to capturing the country’s second World Cup.

Michael Jordan Falls to Chicago

Chicago Bulls fans will forever be grateful to the Portland Trail Blazers for selecting Sam Bowie at No. 2 overall in the 1984 NBA Draft instead of Michael Jordan. Chicago immediately snagged Jordan with the next pick, and the rest is history.

The Immaculate Reception 

If there was ever an example of being in the right place at the right time, it’s Franco Harris’s 1972 Immaculate Reception. The controversial catch – many Raiders fans still believe the ball hit the ground and the Silver and Black should have advanced to the AFC Championship Game – is widely considered the greatest play in NFL history and ultimately set the stage for the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s.

Thumbnail photo via Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

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