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Top 5 Comebacks in sports

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Top 5 Comebacks in sports

Jarod Hamilton, theScore Editor

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Everyone likes a “cinderella” story where the beloved underdog beats the odds to finish on top. Here we highlight the top five redemptions stories in sports.

 5. 2017-2018 Virginia Cavaliers

The No. 1 overall seeded Virginia Cavaliers were matched up against the No.16 seed University of Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers in round 1 of the 2018 NCAA tournament. The Retrievers were 20.5 point underdogs going into the matchup and made the tournament by winning their conference tournament off a last-second three-pointer versus Vermont.

Virginia had wins over four top 25 teams including at Duke and two wins versus North Carolina with the last game being for the ACC championship. In Charlotte, the Retrievers had their way against the Cavaliers not only beating the Cavaliers but dismantling them 74-54. This was, of course, the first time a top seed loss to a 16 seed.

The Cavaliers righted their wrongs the very next season coming in as the No. 1 overall seed again this time winning the National Championship versus Texas Tech for their first title in school history.

Heavyweight champion George Foreman (right) and Muhammad Ali (left) exchange punches during their world heavyweight title boxing match in 1974.

 4. Muhammad Ali/George Foreman

“The Greatest” Muhammad Ali was stripped of his World Heavyweight championship after refusing to be drafted in March 1966. Subsequently, Ali was banned from fighting from March 1967 to October 1970, zapping “The Greatest” of some of his prime years (25-28). In 1974, Ali, 32 fought hard-hitting brute Geoge Foreman, 25, for the World Heavyweight Championship in a fight known as “The Rumble in the Jungle”. Ali managed to win the world title from Foreman in a stunning upset seven years after he lost it.

Ironically, Foreman shares his spot in the top 5 with Ali for the same reason, which is regaining the title after years of inactivity. Following a loss versus Jimmy Young, Foreman experienced a near-death experience following the fight and then remained inactive for the next ten years to focus on becoming a born-again Christian. Foreman returned to the ring at age 38 in 1987 and in 1994 at age 46, beat Michael Moorer for the World Heavyweight championship. Moorer was 19 years his junior, and it had been 20 years since Foreman lost the title to his former foe turned best friend Ali.

3. 2004 Red Sox

After winning the championship in 1918,  the Boston Red Sox would go on a championship drought that lasted 86 years despite having four championship appearances between 1918-2004. This ironically explains the superstition “the Curse of the Bambino”, which said the Red Sox never won a title again from 1918 to 2004 after they sold Babe Ruth also known as the “Bambino” to the rival New York Yankees.

In the 2003 postseason, Boston lost to New York in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) and quickly went down 3-0 in the best-of-seven ALCS in the 2004 postseason. The Red Sox battled back to beat the Yankees 4-3 and went on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series. The curse is now a distant memory as Boston would also win championships in 2007, 2013, and are the reigning World Series champions.

       2. 2007-2008 Boston Celtics

The other team from Beantown overcame some playoff struggle themselves. Despite having the most championships (17) in league history, from 2004-2008 they had two first-round playoff exits and two seasons where they didn’t make the postseason at all. In the 2006-2007 season, an injury to All-NBA guard Paul Pierce limited him to 47 games and the Celtics had the second-worst record in the league.

In the 2007 offseason, the Celtics acquired perennial all-stars Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to pair with Pierce commonly known as the “Big Three.”

The Celtics would make a historical improvement record wise after winning 66 games in the 2007-2008 season, a 42-game improvement. They would go on to defeat Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in the 2008 NBA Finals. Pierce won the 2008 NBA Finals MVP and the Celtics would reach the playoffs 10 out of the next 11 seasons.

1. Tiger Woods

The greatest golfer of the modern era has gone through his fair share of trials and tribulations. Woods last major win was the 2008 U.S. Open where he won in despite a torn ACL. Woods has battled a number of injuries in his career especially from 2008-2017, including a ruptured Achilles, a torn ACL, and three back surgeries.

Off the golf course, it was revealed that Woods had more than a dozen extramarital affairs in December 2010.

His off the course issues cause many problems for him on the green. He did not win any PGA Tour events 2010-2011 and from 2014-2017. Recently, Woods made one of the best comebacks in sports by winning the 2019 Masters by one stroke (-13) over three other game competitors in Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Xander Schauffele.  

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Top 5 Comebacks in sports