Slickest Fake Outs in Sports
When the underdog Boise State University Broncos used both a hook-and-ladder and Statue of Liberty play in the closing minutes to upset the mighty Oklahoma Sooners in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, they captured the hearts of every sports fan in America.
Not only did David beat Goliath, but he did so by using one of the most beloved tools in existence: the trick play.
Indeed, a good fake-out is exciting in sports for a number of reasons.
It catches us all off guard and brings fans to their feet.
It reminds everyone that rules can be bent even when they can't be broken.
And most of all, it makes every player look like a kid from a sandlot and every team look look like a bunch of neighborhood kids pulling out all the stops to score a touchdown at the local park.
Fans endure the mundane and the predictable, but they live for the unexpected.
They live for the hidden ball tricks. The convincing pump fakes. The ridiculous crossovers. The fake field goals.
Sports fans live for the fake outs—and these are some of the best that sports have ever seen.
Rays Execute Hidden Ball Trick
Ladies and Gentlemen, Juan Uribe: the least observant man in the United States of America!
Baseball's "hidden ball trick" is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Players have been getting outs with the hidden ball trick for almost as many year as players have been getting outs.
And yet, it continues to work over and over and over again.
Never is this more embarrassing than when the Rays picked the Dodgers' Juan Uribe off third base using the trick—despite passing the ball over there right in front of his eyes.
Uribe never looks up from the ground, steps off the bag and is finished.
Okay, Juan, from now on, you put your both feet on that bit white square and then don't you move until mommy says GO!
Iverson Crosses Jordan
Allen Iverson spent his entire career proving his doubters wrong, establishing his worth as a basketball player and building his legacy.
Perhaps no one move was more important to his career than this one. Iverson got what he always wanted: a one-on-one chance against the greatest player that had ever and would ever live, Michael Jordan.
A seemingly effortless double-crossover move leaves Jordan floundering like a fish on the deck and gives Iverson an unforgettable place in our memories and in our hearts.
And now, another display of this year's grand "Overreact to Every Tiny Move that Derek Jeter Makes" tour.
Fans seemed to think that Jeter deked Jason Kipnis of the Indians in a recent game, thus recording an out with a sweet heads up fake-out than only a true Captain could execute.
The story: Kipnis pops up. Jeter pretends to field a double play, so Kipnis runs as if it's a ground out. Kipnis realizes his mistake too late and the Yankees double him off, all thanks to the Captain and his glory.
Reality: Kipnis steals second. Ball pops up. (Oops, miscommunication.) Kipnis jumps up at second and hears "GO," so he rounds the bag. Then he realizes what he heard was "GO BACK!" He tries but it's too late—albeit no thanks to the Captain.
Would have been a slick fake out. We'll give him an A+ for effort nonetheless.
In other news, Jeter ate breakfast and brushed his teeth admirably this morning. No games were impacted.
High School Commitment Fake out
Four-star recruit L.J Peak decided to have some fun and fake out the entire world for a little bit while announcing his college choice at a pep rally at his own Gaffney High School.
Peak, a top-100 basketball recruit, was announcing his school commitment alongside classmate Shaq Davidson, a top-100 football recruit.
The young stars pulled out hats of their selected colleges and put them on for the world to see.
Davidson: South Carolina Gamecocks
Peak: South Carolina Gamecocks
Peak tossed the hat aside after a moment and donned a Georgetown Hoyas cap instead.
Well, you got us, L.J.
Let's just be thankful we don't have to deal with this same kind of commitment fake-out in NBA Free Agency. Imagine if the day after SI released LeBron's dramatic "I'm Coming Home" letter, a new headline hit the Internet:
"GOTCHA! Taking my talents to LA. Go Clippers! See ya round, suckers!"
Junior Varsity Trick Play
Who says Junior Varsity teams don't make highlight reels?
Jahlil Pinkett, quarterback of the El Camino Real JV football team shocked the world by successfully pulling off the old "this is the wrong ball" trick, which should never, ever, in any universe, ever work in a real game that is not a scripted movie in disguise.
Pinkett is snapped the ball, walks to the sideline in confusion, asks for a new ball, then takes off and scores.
As Pinkett scores, the man holding the camera exclaims, "I can't believe that worked!" and chuckles to himself. Never has there been a more appropriate response to any play in sports.
Well, good job boys. I guess you should pencil that one into the regular playbook and pull it out a few times every game. Should shape up to be a pretty nice season.
Philippine Basketball Fake out
Well, here's something you don't see in the NBA every night.
In an awesomely head-scratching fake-out play in a Philippine Basketball Association game, a member of the Barako Bull grabbed the ball after the jump and began a fast break. Rather than shoot, he turned around and pretended he was going to set up the offense.
Magically, the defense stopped chasing him and started to back up. He made the easy layup. Everyone looked stupid.
If there was any question before, the debate has been settled: No, the Philippine Basketball Association does not, in fact, offer a higher level of competition than the NBA.
Jose Fernandez' Heads Up Play
Miami Marlins' ace Jose Fernandez, last year's Rookie of the Year winner and a member of this year's Tommy John club, hasn't been playing in the big leagues for long.
That doesn't stop him from making heads up plays and helping his team win even when he's not throwing a pitch.
With two outs in the third inning and a runner on third base in this game against the Atlanta Braves, Fernandez fields a sharp ground ball and pulls off a slick play: He fakes a throw to first, drawing the runner home, then nails him at the plate for the final out of the inning.
You try to mess with Jose Fernandez, and Jose Fernandez is going to mess with you.
Little Kid Owns Nick Young
Nobody ever said Nick Young was famous for his defense, and this was on full display at his own basketball camp, when Young was absolutely schooled by a little kid with some pretty impressive moves down by the basket.
The kid has no problem brushing off the defender with a couple slick little moves despite standing at approximately half of Young's height.
The bad news?
There is speculation that this kid is shorter, weaker and less experienced than most of the guys Young will be expected to guard next season.
Manti Te'o's Fake Girlfriend
Slick fake outs don't just happen on the football field. Sometimes the best ones actually have nothing to do with sports.
Linebacker Manti Te'o took the whole world for a ride during his senior season at Notre Dame when he had us all in the palm of his hands supporting him after the difficult loss of his beautiful girlfriend, Lennay Kekua.
Te'o showed incredible strength in the face of the sudden tragedy, and this launched him into the spotlight and actually threw him into the conversation for the Heisman Trophy, which rarely ever goes to defensive players.
Turns out the superstar was orchestrating one of the most beautifully woven fake outs in the history of sports. His girlfriend wasn't real. Her death wasn't real. Her story wasn't real.
Shortly thereafter, we all realized that his Heisman chances weren't all that real, either.
Te'o, however, claimed that he was not the mastermind of a brilliant lie but the gullible butt of a cruel joke.
If the latter is the case, shame on the creep who did that to you.
If it's the former?
Slick fake out, Manti.
C.J. Wilson's Fastball Fake-out
In an awesome prank put on by the MLB Fan Cave, C.J. Wilson stood behind a clear plastic sheet inside a building in New York and threw fastballs at passers by. Of course, these civilians all thought they were going to get hit by the ball, not realizing there was a sheet in between themselves and the pitcher.
This cleverly staged fake out is obviously not something that happened during a game—but it's worth watching for the terrified reactions of the innocent civilians and the perpetual look of guilt in Wilson's eyes, especially when he causes one poor man to drop his coffee.
Ah, the power of the fastball.
Middle Schoolers Get Tricky Touchdown
Never underestimate the scheming, mischievous mind of a middle school football team.
One of the great joys of watching middle schoolers play tackle football in the first place is just how bad the game usually is. The pads seem to swallow the children and they can't really throw or catch all that well yet—but apparently, they're already great at executing cheap trick plays for touchdowns. Whatever works, right?
Facing a 6-0 deficit to Wynn Seale in the fourth quarter of a championship game, Driscoll Middle School tried their own version of the "What's going on?" play. Everyone stands up, the center hands the quarterback the ball and he just sort of walks through the line.
Who knew that a look of confusion could take you so far?
Props to Wynn Seale's No. 19 for nearly chasing down the QB before he reached the end zone. Props to Driscoll for their fair, hard-earned and totally legitimate victory.
Billy Hamilton's Juke
These are not moves you're going to see on a baseball diamond every day—and that's precisely what makes young Cincinnati Reds phenom Billy Hamilton so special.
Though Hamilton's but down the line in this game against the Pittsburgh Pirates was hit way too hard, the speed demon did not give up. The ball beat him to the first baseman, but the young outfielder whipped out an impressive juke move, faking to the right then leaping to the left and somehow gliding into the bag untouched.
The move looked a lot more like a scene from The Matrix than one from a baseball game. If I were a Major League infielder, seeing Hamilton standing at the plate would inspire more than just a little bit of stress.
Student athlete means STUDENT comes first! Education matters!
Well, at least that's what the NCAA has tried for years to get us to believe. To anyone who fell for it: Joke's on you. You've been deked worse than Jason Kipnis, and you can't blame it on a stolen base attempt.
Though academic fraud has been a story in college sports for years, it recently burst back into the spotlight when former North Carolina basketball star Rashad McCants, who helped the team win the 2005 National Championship, claimed to have taken fake classes to stay eligible during the season.
Either the fake classes effectively faked everyone out, or nobody seemed to care.
Either way, looks like it worked! UNC won the title; McCants made the Dean's List and then went on to the NBA to make millions of dollars.
That sounds like a sweet school! Where do I sign up?
Pearland Wins State
Pearland High School won the 2010 Class 5A Division I state championship in a manner perhaps more head-scratching than the way Driscoll Middle School beat Wynn Seale a few years later.
Facing a deficit that they apparently couldn't overcome the traditional way, Pearland also opted for confusion as their weapon of choice, executing an efficient dead man trick play that launched them to victory.
The philosophy behind it makes sense:
Have everyone pretend the play isn't going on except for your best player. Then, pass it to that guy.
The success of this play did rely on a really great pass-and-catch from the quarterback to the receiver, so you can't really call it a cheap play.
But to the bystanders on the defensive line:
Next time you see the QB drop back while a WR runs down field, it might be wise to at least do something.
Boise State's Trick Finish
The greatest trick play ever executed. The greatest football game ever played.
The superlatives go on and on for Boise State's unlikely victory over the mighty Oklahoma Sooners in 2007. The Broncos used a hook and ladder for a shocking come-from-behind score in regulation, then won it on a Statue of Liberty play in overtime.
These plays were common on the playground when I was in elementary school.
I once saw an intramural team execute them both to perfection back in college.
But in the Fiesta Bowl? Against Oklahoma?
Well, let's just say there's something pretty magical about knocking off one of college football's biggest powerhouses on a couple of plays that should probably have never been called in the first place.
Think I'm a genius? An idiot? Let me know on Twitter.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!