Most of us believe there are more earthquakes, wars and nipple slips than 15 years ago. Really, it just seems like that because 24-hour news networks are breathlessly reporting on each one. Similarly, we've been convinced that a select few highly televised moments and athletes are the greatest in the history of sports. For instance, here are six events everyone knows as the greatest in the history of sport, and the true stories that actually beat their pants off.
6The Real Miracle on Ice
The story you know:
The 1980 Soviet hockey team was an unstoppable force of nature fueled by communism and pieces of shit like the guys on the U.S. hockey team. The U.S. team was composed of college kids who had never played together, had no chemistry and presumably learned to skate only after failing to make the U.S. track team, like in Cool Runnings. Yet when these teams met in the medal round, the USA squad somehow managed to gain an improbable lead and held it until Al Michaels asked everyone, "Do you believe in miracles?" as time ran out on what was immediately declared the biggest upset in sports history.
That day, the first (albeit primitive) teabag was performed.
But actually ...
Michaels, and everyone who has spent the past 30 years taking his call literally, has apparently forgotten about the far-less-promising U.S. Olympic hockey team that won gold against the Russians on neutral ice in the 1960 Olympics. Makes you start to wonder just how impartial the American media were being when calculating those one-in-a-million odds in the first place.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the USA basketball team has pulled off yet another victory despite the odds!"
Anyone who follows hockey at any level will tell you that the most important details heading into any big game are who has the hot goalie and who has home ice. America had future NHL goalie Jim Craig playing out of his mind in goal and a stadium full of fans losing their shit because it was the height of the Cold War and they all believed they were witnessing a miracle.
He would later flip out and murder dozens of camping teenagers with a machete.
Unfortunately, Michaels wasn't present to verify the miracle that took place on the ice of the 1942 Stanley Cup finals. The Detroit Red Wings were pummeling the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0 in a best-of-seven series. Pulling a page from the playbook of the self-sabotaging owner in Major League, Leafs coach Hap Day benched his best defensemen as well as a future Hall of Famer and replaced them with two unproven rookies who had combined for a whopping 9 points during the regular season.
We're betting the cut-out of Hap Day wasn't quite as hot, though.
Halfway through Game 4, the move was going approximately as well as you'd expect. The Leafs found themselves down by two goals. Because it's difficult to fire a coach in the middle of a game, Day stuck to his guns and kept the gang of unproven jerks on the ice. And that's when the Leafs suddenly began playing out of their minds, coming from behind to win the game and the entire series.
And their manager was pissed!
Mathematicians have looked at the history of games in which a team trailed by two goals and the history of seven-game series in which a team was down three games to none, and calculated the Leafs chance of winning at that moment at 0.17 percent. Herb Brooks, the coach of the U.S. Olympic hockey team that year, calculated his squad's chances of winning at a more reasonable 10 percent. This one just comes down to the fact that it's much more fun to believe in miracles at the height of the Cold War than ones pulled off by teams named after foliage.