Given that sports fandom requires picking sides, there’s no way to make everybody happy with a list of the greatest Texas sports moments to revisit on the small screen. But since many of us have some extra time on our hands—and no live sports to watch—we’re giving it a try. Skipping the Houston Astros historic post-Harvey win in 2017, as we did, risks offending a city of 6 million residents. Surely, somebody will object over the omission of the 2011 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, Lance Armstrong’s tainted domination of the Tour de France, and WNBA star Brittney Griner’s highlights as a Baylor Lady Bear. But when it comes to sports entertainment, arguing teams and rankings is second only to watching the action. So check these out, and then chime in with your favorites.
1. Becoming In-VINCE-able
If you bleed orange, chances are you know exactly where you were on Jan. 4, 2006, as the clocked ticked down on the University of Texas Longhorns’ chances to defeat top-ranked University of Southern California in the Rose Bowl. Nothing less than the collegiate National Championship was on the line with UT coach Mack Brown’s squad cast in the unlikely Cinderella role despite an 11-0 regular season record. Considered one of the all-time great college contests, USC boasted two Heisman Trophy winners, quarterback Matt Leinart (2004) and running back Reggie Bush (2005), riding a 34-game winning streak to a probable second consecutive college championship. Standing in their way, UT quarterback Vince Young faced a 5-point deficit with just 26 seconds left in the game. On fourth down and five, Young stood at the USC 9-yard line and took the snap. The rest is history.
ESPN recently led it’s Throwback Thursday broadcast with the game, but this recap from Texas Athletics is great.
2. Hoop Dreams
Championships are the stuff of memories, but when it comes to absolutely fabulous athletic performances, historic also-rans are also well worth revisiting. The San Antonio Spurs have a secure legacy, with five NBA titles—1999, 2003, ’05, ’07, and ’14. But it’s difficult to conjure a more rousing victory than the Spurs’ double-overtime playoff match they played May 6, 2013, the first game of the Western Conference semifinals against the Golden State Warriors. Led by a fresh-faced Stephan Curry, the Warriors looked like a lock to win. With 3 minutes left, San Antonio all-star Tim Duncan, suffering from the flu, headed for the locker room. Yet, the Spurs managed to tie things up with an 18-2 run. A furious first overtime settled nothing, but at the end of the second OT, after a wretched 3-point attempt by guard Manu Ginobili, Golden State countered with 6 straight points, leaving the home team down by 1. Desperate, with 3.6 seconds left, Ginobili launched another 3, putting the Spurs up 129-127, and securing his legend in Texas. “I went from wanting to trade him on the spot to wanting to cook breakfast for him tomorrow morning,” coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after the game.
The Spurs made it to the 2013 finals, which they lost to a Miami Heat team led by LeBron James. But for those who witnessed the playoff journey, it’s Manu Forever. See the game’s overtime highlights here.
3. A Champion Among Champions
The Lone Star State has had its share of Olympic greats. But with this summer’s games in Japan postponed to 2021, it’s time to set the record straight: There is only one Simone Biles. In a sport that has seen its share of controversy, with abuse of some gymnasts, Biles has remained a beckon of light and hope—and that’s something we could use more of right now. The 23-year-old athlete, who resides in Spring, is not only a four-time Olympic champion, she’s holds a record 25 World Championship medals, which makes her the most decorated gymnast in the history of international sport. Biles has not lost an all-around title in six years, and she has four moves named after her, including the Biles II, a triple-double (two flips and three twists), which is part of a floor routine that has U.S. gymnastics officials reconsidering their scoring system.
4. Kicking it up a Notch
A longtime championship drought for La Naranja, as supporters refer to the Houston Dynamo soccer club, means that fùtbol fans on the hunt for wins would do best to look back to a time before BBVA Stadium was completed in 2012. For these die-hards, the twinned MLS Cup wins of 2006 and 2007 taught Texas that at its highest levels, professional soccer could be played for fun and profit. So, while the MLS 2020 season remains suspended, let’s cast an eye back to the early days. Both Dynamo championships were played against the New England Revolution, led by Taylor Twellman, whose prodigious talent made him the youngest MLS player to reach 100 goals. In 2006, the Revolution attack also included Nacogdoches native Clint Dempsey, who emerged as the best American soccer player of his generation. Still new to Texas in 2006, the Dynamo boasted a pair of qualified Canadians, goalie Pat Onstad and attacking midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, as well as veteran national-team stalwart forward Brian Ching. After a 1-1 draw during regulation, that first MLS Cup went to penalty kicks; Ching missed the 2007 match, but a strong offensive performance, including a score by De Rosario, allowed the club to hoist the trophy a second time.
5. How ‘bout them Cowboys?
Dallas’ dismantling of the Buffalo Bills 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII in 1993 set the stage for a dynasty that continues to cast its shadow across the National Football League. Under the snap, coming off a career-high 302 completions, quarterback Troy Aikman was near perfect, not that he needed to be because the powerful defensive unit forced the Bills quarterback Jim Kelly out of the game in the second quarter. But assisted by tight-end Jay Novacek, wide receiver Michael Irvin and running back Emmitt Smith, Aikman stacked up 38 offensive points. With a team-record nine turnovers on the day, the Cowboys defense deserves as much credit as the offense. The defense accounted for two touchdowns and held the great Bills running back Thurmon Thomas to just 29 yards.
This Super Bowl game is not long on suspense, but it’s the Cowboys at their best. And as a bonus, pop superstar Michael Jackson wowed the crowd with a half-time show that rewrote NFL programming forever.