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By Jerell Rushin
Major League Baseball released its starters and rosters for the 2018 All-Star Game last week, and even though those who run the game prefer old (as in old-time thinking), the fans decided to go young (as in who takes the diamond). Seasoned players also were picked for the event, but the fans showed they’re willing to go against the grain for more excitement.
The first pitch is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday from Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
Below are some of the most thrilling moments from All-Star Week of various professional sports leagues, and the memories make you smile.
2007 Pro Bowl
Nowadays, the NFL is struggling as much as the NBA to get players to participate in its best-of-the-best game. Google “Sean Taylor Pro Bowl hit” to see the difference 11 years can make. Brian Moorman was just having a little fun running a fake punt. Then Taylor’s hit took his feet off the ground.
This one also makes the list because of the reminiscent factor. Taylor was fatally shot later in 2007 in the middle of the season while injured. The hit is the most recognizable highlight of Taylor’s four-year NFL career, and it’s also peerless in Pro Bowl history.
1998 Home Run Derby
This derby is unforgettable not for what winner Ken Griffey Jr. did that night in Denver, but for Colorado baseball fans booing him throughout batting practice the day before. Griffey planned on resting because of the Seattle Mariners’ challenging traveling schedule, but he entered to please the crowd.
So why did Griffey change his mind? “I don’t like to get booed,” he said, finishing with a then-record 53 home runs. He picked up his second derby title to conclude a great storyline for the first live telecast of the contest.
2018 NBA All-Star Game
The NBA decided to have LeBron James and Stephen Curry to pick the teams for this game from a pool of players. The moment would have ranked higher on the list if the selections were shown on TV. An hour-long selection show could’ve produced great ratings and brought more buzz to the most exciting NBA All-Star game in a while.
After the rosters were released, reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook thought he was James’ last pick because his name was listed last. Oklahoma City Thunder reporters informed the confused guard that the list was just in alphabetical order.
The game came down to Kevin Durant guarding Golden State Warriors teammate Curry with the help of James. Team Steph never got a shot off at the end of the game, and Team LeBron took home a 148-145 victory after they played real basketball. Everybody involved said they enjoyed the intensity, and let’s hope that continues.
2008 MLB All-Star Weekend
Yankee Stadium received a nice farewell gift in its final season when the MLB All-Star festivities came to the Bronx. The derby and the All-Star Game were worthy to make this list alone, but why not include both historical moments?
Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton began the derby with a record 28 home runs in the opening round. Too bad he wilted and hit just three in the final round, falling to Justin Morneau.
This All-Star Game matched the derby’s insaneness when the NL and AL went to a record-tying 15 innings. An Adrian Gonzalez sacrifice fly gave the NL a one-run lead late in the game, but Evan Longoria tied it up in the bottom of the inning. Neither team would score for the next 6 1/2 innings. Morneau became significant once again when he scored the winning run off a Michael Young sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 15th.
2000 Slam Dunk Contest
Vince Carter dominated the scene in Oakland during this slam-dunk contest. He had some of the best highlights in the event’s history, and they happened within an hour. Impressively, he said he didn’t practice his first one, which was a reverse windmill that earned him the highest level for a dunk at 50 points. If Michael Jordan wasn’t Michael Jordan, that whole thing would be the poster child for all dunk contests.
As for the 2000s slam-dunk contest history, Carter’s may be the favorite for as long as we can remember, or even longer. Since then, the slam-dunk contest has been a snoozer, but along came Larry Nance Jr. and Donovan Mitchell last February to catch the people’s attention with their aggressive and picturesque dunking.
Jerell Rushin is the sports editor at The Signal, Georgia State University's independent student newspaper. He's a senior journalism major, but he is fascinated by environmental science and anthropology. The only time he switched teams was when he transferred from Georgia Southern University to Georgia State in 2017. He enjoys attending concerts, shopping and being mediocre in Madden NFL.