Greatness has to start somewhere. For Michael Jordan, the moment came on March 29, 1982, when the then freshman drilled a 17-footer with 17 seconds left to lift North Carolina to a 63-62 over Georgetown in the NCAA Championship in New Orleans. The rest, of course, is history.
2 of 20AP
It is simply known as The Play, the famed last-second, five-lateral kickoff return by Cal on Nov. 20, 1982. The Play gave the Golden Bears "the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football!," as Cal announcer Joe Starkey described it. The losing quarterback in the game? A dude named John Elway.
3 of 20Walter Iooss Jr./SI
With Bill Walsh calling "Red Right Tight-Sprint Right Option," Dwight Clark hauls in a pass from Joe Montana for the winning score in San Francisco's 28-27 victory in the NFC Championship Game. The play, famously captured by Sports Illustrated on its cover, is known simply as The Catch.
4 of 20Ronald C. Modra/SI
Nobody could have imagined that Cal Ripken Jr.'s start at third base against the Blue Jays on May 30, 1982, would be the start of something historic. It was the first of his record 2,632 straight games that spanned 16 seasons, from May 30, 1982, until Sept. 20, 1998. The famed Iron Man played in 19 All-Star games and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame this summer.
5 of 20Rich Pilling/Getty Images
Tony Gywnn was 22 years when he broke into the majors for the Padres on July 19, 1982. Not surprisingly, he singled and doubled in his first game, the first two of his 3,141 hits over a 20-year career. Along with Cal Ripken, Gwynn was enshrined in Cooperstown this summer.
6 of 20Walter Iooss Jr./SI
After "The Catch" lifted them into the Super Bowl, the Niners defeated the Bengals 26-21 in Super Bowl XVI on Jan. 24, 1982. Niners quarterback Joe Montana was named the MVP, completing 14 of 22 passes for 157 yards and one touchdown.
7 of 20Ronald C. Modra/SI
Speed kills. So did Ricky Henderson when it came to disrupting opponents on the base paths. By swiping four bases on Aug. 27, 1982, Henderson broke the single-season record he had shared with Lou Brock for most stolen bases in a season. He finished the year with 130 steals and had 1,406 for his career. Henderson is now a coach with the Mets.
8 of 20Peter Read Miller/SI
Do you believe in Magic? The Sixers did in 1982 after Magic Johnson posted triple 13's --13 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists -- to lead the Lakers to a 114-104 win in Game 6 of the Finals, earning their second NBA title in three years. Johnson would go on to lead the Lakers to five titles and is now a businessman and analyst for TNT Sports.
9 of 20Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
The Cards were stacked as Joaquin Andujar won Game 7 on Oct. 20, 1982, dealing St. Louis to a World Series championship over the Brewers. Andujar finished with a 2-0 record and 1.35 ERA in the Series. Bruce Sutter came on for the save in the final game.
10 of 20Action Images/Icon SMI
Hail to the Azzurri: Italy defeated West Germany 3-1 to win the World Cup on July 11, 1982. Paolo Rossi scored in the final -- he had six goals in the tournament, including a hat trick against Brazil in the quarterfinals --to win the Golden Boot award.
11 of 20John Iacono/SI
The Great White Hope. That's what they called Gerry Cooney prior to his WBC heavyweight fight with Larry Holmes, a boxing promotion framed by Don King along racial lines. Holmes ended up stopping Cooney in the 13th round on June 11, 1982, and successfully defended his title 20 times before losing to Michael Spinks.
12 of 20Tony Triolo/SI
In one of the great fights of the 1980s, Aaron Pryor defeated Alexis Arguello on Nov. 12, 1982, to retain the WBA's junior welterweight championship.
13 of 20Mickey Pfleger/SI
It was one of the sporting tragedies of the decade. Boxer Duk Koo Kim died five days after Ray Mancini knocked him out in the 14th round of their Nov. 13 fight. The bout ended up leading to reforms in the sport regarding a fighter's medical care before bouts. New rules also reduced fights from 15 to 12 rounds.
14 of 20Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
A 57-day strike by NFL players reduced the 1982 NFL regular season to nine games. The playoffs ended up being a 16-team format with division standings ignored. Among the benefits won by the NFL Players Association's negotiators: the right to obtain copies of all individual contracts.
15 of 20Steve Goldstein/SI
The Great One was never greater than in 1982. On Feb. 24 of that year, Edmonton's Wayne Gretzky broke Phil Esposito's record for most goals in a season (76), scoring three goals to help beat the Buffalo Sabres. Gretzky finished the season with NHL records of 92 goals and 212 points.
16 of 20Richard Mackson/SI
Take That, Jack: In one of the most memorable moments in U.S. Open history, Tom Watson birdied the 17th hole at Pebble Beach by pitching in to the cup from off the green. His two-stroke win over Jack Nicklaus gave him his first and only Open championship.
17 of 20Walter Iooss Jr./SI
At 30, he was considered old for the sport, but Jimmy Connors owned tennis in 1982. He won at Wimbledon, an epic five-set final over top-ranked John McEnroe to claim his second Wimbledon title, eight years after his first, and later took the U.S. Open by winning the final over Ivan Lendl. By year's end the old man was No. 1 in the world.
18 of 20Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Running supernova Mary Decker set six world records in '82, at distances ranging from the mile to the 10,000, and received the Sullivan Award. Alas, she always seemed snakebitten at the Olympics, no more so than in 1984, when she famously collided with Zola Budd in the 3,000 finals in Los Angeles.
19 of 20Lane Stewart/SI
Alberto Salazar won a third consecutive New York Marathon. It remains the last time a native-born American man has won the New York crown. Earlier in '82, Salazar outkicked Dick Beardsley at the Boston Marathon to win what many believe is the best race in the history of that event.
20 of 20AP
Appalachian State has company when it comes to improbable upsets. On Dec. 23, 1982, Chaminade stunned top-ranked Virginia, 77-72. How shocking was the result? Virginia featured the player of the year in 7-foot-4 center Ralph Sampson and had been to the Final Four in 1981. Weeks earlier they had defeated Georgetown and Patrick Ewing in what some billed as "The Game of the Century". But Chaminade, an 800-student NAIA school from Honolulu, played Cinderella that night and scored an upset for the ages.
You May Like
More More Sports
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!