Sports Stories That Have Broken the Internet This Decade
We are all blessed to have the Internet in our lives. Sure it's chock-full of haters and memes, but when it comes to sports, it's a great ecosystem of opinions.
Over the last 10 years, as the Internet has started to really take shape, fans have witnessed some iconic moments. Moments that have basically locked a sleeper hold onto the World Wide Web.
It's not just about classic games or historic blowouts. Breaking the Internet can happen during free-agency periods or when we least expect it. Using all of that criteria, let's take a gander at some of the biggest sports stories that have shattered cyberspace.
Editor's Note: This list only includes stories that directly affected sports, so scandals and crimes won't be included.
LeBron James Takes His Talents to South Beach
Had LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach in say 2014 instead of 2010, the Internet would have probably burned to the ground and never risen from the ashes.
Just look at what has happened to Twitter alone, and you'll see what I mean.
Back in 2010, eight percent of people living in the United States used Twitter, according to Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. In June 2014, the social media conglomerate reported on its website that 23 percent are U.S.-based users while 500 million tweets are being sent out on a daily basis.
Add in Facebook's booming growth and what you have is an even greater landscape of opinions out there to call King James a villain.
When LeBron announced his intentions to a stiffly dressed Jim Gray in the gym of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a sense of outrage fumigated the hallways of social media.
Despite James trying to wipe our memories clean like we were watching Men in Black, the Internet will never forget "The Decision."
Luis Suarez Presents 'The Bite'
What happens when one of the best soccer players on the planet decides that he's going to bite someone on the pitch during the World Cup? The Internet goes into a frenzy.
Suarez decided to bite Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, which resulted in a four-month ban from the sport. The Uruguayan ultimately left Liverpool for Barcelona in July. The craziest part about the incident was that this wasn't his first time sinking his fangs into another player—the ex-Liverpool striker has done this twice before.
The Internet had some fun on Suarez's account, which allowed Dave Wood of the Daily Mail to capture these moments in all their perfect, beautiful glory.
When he's not biting players like a toddler, Suarez is devastatingly talented. The problem is, he cannot keep his teeth to himself.
Defense Wins Championships
Super Bowl XLVIII was dubbed as the game featuring a record-setting offense going up against the league's top defense.
Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos were treating the NFL like it was a video game throughout the entire 2013 season. Manning threw for 55 touchdowns, and the offense as a whole averaged 457.3 yards per game. The Seahawks, on the other hand, were putting the clamps on any offense that walked in their path.
Surrendering just 273.6 yards per game leading up to the playoffs, it was clear that something had to give.
What gave was the Broncos' spirit. It was crushed. Pete Carroll's Hawks decimated their foe, which of course, brought down the Internet and led to more trolling of the iconic Manning.
LeBron James Comes Home
LeBron's decision to play for the Heat was the ultimate "LeBron moment" up until now.
Immediately after James opted out of his contract with Pat Riley's boys, the speculation started brewing. Would the King come back home? Would he stay down in Miami? Could James somehow become part of the Los Angeles Lakers?
The Internet was already pumping with theories even before the "new" decision was made. Then, this happened: The Sports Illustrated article seen around the world came to light, and everyone knew where LeBron was going.
An explosion of memes, tweets and comments rattled the World Wide Web, and in the end, James somehow became a hero. Two of the biggest Internet stories of all time belong to King James. Is there anything this guy cannot do?
Tim Howard Becomes Captain America
Tim Howard's performance against Belgium during the World Cup instantly made him the face of soccer in the United States of America.
Belgium poured it on the U.S. men's national team with vicious offensive attacks. Howard responded with 16 incredible saves. Even though the team lost in the end, Howard turned in one of the greatest performances—regardless of position—in World Cup history.
After the dust settled on the old cattle ranch, Howard became an Internet sensation. He was called everything from the Secretary of Defense to the Human Wall. U.S. soccer—and the Internet—is better off because of Howard.
Auburn vs. Alabama
There have been some magical moments in college football over the last decade, but none live up to the 2013 Iron Bowl between Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide and Gus Malzahn's Auburn Tigers.
A back-and-forth tug of war between two of the biggest rivals in all of sports ended with one magical play. Alabama kicker Adam Griffith came up short on a 57-yard field goal attempt that was returned by Auburn cornerback Chris Davis for a game-winning touchdown.
Twitter was a madhouse after the game, but nothing came close to the reactions from fans that were posted up to YouTube. No matter what side of the fence you were on, the 2013 Iron Bowl will go down as one of the best games of all time and a moment that melted the Internet like it was a polar icecap.
Escape from L.A.
Dwight Howard could have been the next great Los Angeles Lakers big man. He could have been the future face of the franchise when long-time stalwart Kobe Bryant finally decided to walk away from the sport.
Instead, Howard signed with the Houston Rockets and scorned the entire Lakers fanbase on his way out of Los Angeles. This wasn't quite as chaotic as the John Carpenter film Escape from L.A., but Howard did abandon the city after just one season donning a purple and gold uniform.
First, he did it to the Orlando Magic, and then, he did it to the Los Angeles Lakers. Even though he's now a staple of the Rockets rotation, the Internet will always be suspect of Superman after what he's done in the past.
The World Meets Johnny Football
Before Johnny Football was a Heisman Trophy winner, a College Station legend and the savior of the Cleveland Browns, he was Johnny Manziel from Tyler, Texas.
He was the kid who almost played for Chip Kelly's Oregon Ducks and the guy who would eventually lead a talented Texas A&M team to great heights. For most casual fans, they met Johnny Football back in 2012 when he destroyed the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.
Manziel was dancing around like Fred Astaire with the swagger and the skill of a young Aaron Rodgers. The scrappy Manziel proved that he was a playmaker. A guy who could make magic happen when the pigskin was thrust into his hands.
The legend of Manziel really started against Saban's crew, and the Internet got to enjoy every second of it.
March Madness is always a time when the Internet and the faithful people who run it go crazy. Huge upsets, buzzer-beaters and Cinderella stories are part of what makes college basketball so appealing.
One of the greatest moments in the tournament came when we were introduced to a team called Dunk City in 2013.
Florida Gulf Coast had a magical run to the Sweet 16, as they transformed into college's version of the Los Angeles Clippers. A No. 15 seed, they dismantled a prestigious Georgetown program in the opening round—who were a No. 2 seed—and carried that momentum with them throughout the tournament.
Dunk City took flight and made all of us believers in the process.
All MLB, NBA, College Football and NFL information and stats provided by ESPN.com, unless noted otherwise.
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