Top 20 Revenge Moments in Sports

Ed NoveloCorrespondent IIIJuly 8, 2011

Top 20 Revenge Moments in Sports

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    A wise man once said that payback's a bitch. It was probably Gandhi, but don't take my word for it. All I know is there's no better feeling than sticking it to someone who stuck it to you.

    Revenge is a common occurrence in sports, and it can often lead to some memorable rivalries, and in some instances just memorable games.

    Or a memorable punch.

    There are hundreds of revenge moments in sports, so keep in mind that this list isn't all-encompassing—especially when leaving angry comments.

    The following is 20 moments of revenge, either dished out by a player or team.

20. Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir

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    Drawing First Blood

    Brock Lesnar was a former wrestler who hadn't been an MMA fighter for too long, having just seven fights under his belt. He entered MMA in 2007, handling his first opponent in Min-Soo Kim. Then he fought seasoned veteran Frank Mir and was quickly brought back down to earth.

    At UFC 81 in 2008, Mir caught Lesnar in a kneebar submission in the first round, giving him the first blemish on his record.

    The Revenge!

    Lesnar got another shot at Mir at UFC 100, and he made the best of it.

    He knocked out Mir in the second round, defending his title—which he had won from Randy Couture in the fight before—and then he promptly lost his damn mind.

    Lesnar would taunt a bloodied Mir, flip the crowd off and insult a UFC sponsor.

    Isn't revenge sweet?

19. Cleveland vs. Miami

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    Drawing First Blood

    In LeBron James' much-publicized return to Cleveland, the Cavs were expected to play inspired basketball and show the Heat that heart can overcome talent.

    Things didn't turn out that way.

    LeBron dropped 38 points on the way to a 118-90 victory, chatting it up with his old friends on the sideline and generally acting like a complete jackass.

    The Heat would go on to beat them two more times that season, proving that they are who we thought they were.

    The Revenge!

    In the team's fourth and final meeting of the season, the Cavs finally played inspired basketball, beating the Heat 102-90.

    It was a great victory for the fans of the city and anyone who came to despise James for "The Decision."

    Satisfied with the victory, Dan Gilbert burst into flame and returned to his throne in hell, where I assume he's working on his next open letter.

18. Joe Montana vs. 49ers

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    Drawing First Blood

    Even the greats get old, and when the 49ers believed that 36-year-old Joe Montana was reaching the end of his career, they traded him to the Chiefs.

    You would think that winning four Super Bowls might get you a little more respect.

    The Revenge!

    Problem was, he still had a little left in the tank.

    In their first meeting the following year, Montana threw for 203 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions on the way to a 24-17 victory.

    His replacement, Steve Young, threw for 288 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, making some in San Francisco—if even for a second—wonder if they had made a mistake.

17. Falcons vs. Eagles

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    Drawing First Blood

    In the 2004 NFC Championship Game, the Eagles finally got over the hump—having failed in the three previous NFC championships—and defeated the Falcons on the way to the Super Bowl.

    This would be the closest Michael Vick would ever come to a Super Bowl—I said, looking into my crystal ball that never lies.

    The Revenge!

    In Week 1 of the following year, the Falcons and Eagles would meet again in a fiery matchup that saw a player from both sides get ejected for fighting before even a single whistle blew.

    The Falcons would go on to win 14-10, feeling like it should have been them in the Super Bowl.

    Too bad.

16. Sean Avery vs. the Dallas Stars

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    Drawing First Blood

    Sean Avery found himself in a bit of hot water after making some rather questionable remarks about his former girlfriend, Elisha Cuthbert.

    I won't say what those comments were—I would never besmirch the name of Elisha Cuthbert—but his team, the Dallas Stars, took exception to them, benching him for good after he served a six-game suspension.

    He would be placed on waivers and picked up by the New York Rangers.

    The Revenge!

    The next time Avery saw the Stars, he had a grand time.

    He scored one goal and three assists on the way to a 5-2 victory, showing that the Stars should never have let him go.

    Of course, all this is being said in his head. I probably would have let him go too. That goes for any man that disrespects Elisha Cuthbert!

15. Shawn Thornton vs. Matt Cooke

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    Drawing First Blood

    In 2010, after Shawn Thornton of the Boston Bruins watched Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins level his teammate, Marc Savard, he decided to do something about it, but we'll get to that in a second.

    As for Savard, he suffered a severe concussion and would not return until the playoffs. Unfortunately, he would also suffer a severe concussion the following season.

    He now thinks he's a chicken. Probably.

    The Revenge!

    The Bruins would play the Penguins again just 11 days later, and Thornton had something on his mind other than hockey.

    He wanted to beat Cooke's face in.

    While he didn't literally bash Cooke's face in—that would have been most disturbing—he did manage to get in a few good shots before the refs had to separate them.

    Good ol' hockey justice.

14. Auburn vs. Alabama

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    Drawing First Blood

    This could really go both ways.

    Each year these two teams meet up in the much-anticipated Iron Bowl, and it's usually a great game. But during a six-year stretch from 2002-2007, the rivalry was one-sided.

    Auburn looked to have Alabama's number, but in 2008, Alabama finally got one over on Auburn in a big way, beating the Tigers 36-0. That wasn't the best part about it, though.

    The Revenge!

    The following year, Alabama went on to win again, defeating Auburn 26-21 en route to its first national championship in the BCS era.

    Auburn would get its own revenge, though, the following year, coming from behind to win 28-27 en route to the title game, where it would also win its first national championship in the BCS era.

    Let's see what happens next year after the poisoning of the trees.

13. Agassi vs. Sampras

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    Drawing First Blood

    It's said that Agassi, after his first match with Sampras—which he won by a landslide—said of him that he was "never going to make it as a pro."

    That's funny, because Sampras owned Agassi. Out of 34 matches, Sampras won 20 of them. No wonder Agassi doesn't like him.

    Sampras is also a bad tipper, I guess.

    The Revenge!

    Considering they played each other so many times with Sampras winning the vast majority of them, you can say that anytime Agassi won it was revenge.

    That's really how it goes in one-sided rivalries, and considering Agassi can't even let something as stupid as tipping go, it's clear he's still pretty angry about it all the losing.

    Or, given the "never going to make it" thing, you can say that it was Sampras who got the revenge.

    I leave that up to you.

12. Muhammad Ali Doesn't Lose Twice...Usually

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    Drawing First Blood

    Muhammad Ali didn't lose very often—just five times, in fact—but when he did, he was quick to do something about it.

    Out of his five losses, three of them he would avenge. Those three fights were against Joe Frazier (unanimous decision), Ken Norton (split decision) and Leon Spinks (split decision).

    He lost his heavyweight title in all three matches.

    It's also important to note that the other two losses were his final two matches. Everyone has to retire at some point.

    The Revenge!

    He would get his revenge against all three men.

    After suffering his first professional loss in "The Fight of the Century" versus Frazier, Ali would win their rematch by unanimous decision.

    Ali would get a rematch against Norton the very next fight, and he would win by split decision, winning back his heavyweight title in the process.

    Spinks would be Ali's final win, and it too would come in a rematch directly following the loss. Ali would win it by unanimous decision, once again getting his heavyweight title back.

11. Wayne Gretzky vs. Edmonton Oilers

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    Drawing First Blood

    In what's known as "The Trade," Wayne Gretzky was traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings, much to his dismay, especially since they had just won the Stanley Cup the previous year.

    Gretzky, a Canadian, never wanted to leave Edmonton, and it wouldn't take long for him to show the Oilers that it was a big mistake.

    The Revenge!

    In the first round of the playoffs the following season, Gretzky and the Kings would defeat the the Oilers in seven games, knocking the defending champions out of the playoffs. Considering they were underdogs and down 3-1 in the series, it was made all the sweeter.

    There's a reason they call him "The Great One."

    Also, they were swept the following round by the Calgary Flames.

10. Jon Gruden vs. the Raiders

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    Drawing First Blood

    Just a year after Jon Gruden and the Raiders lost to the New England Patriots in the infamous "Tuck Rule" game in 2001 that launched a dynasty, he was let go of by the Oakland Raiders in a trade.

    I didn't know they could do that to coaches.

    In any case, the Raiders would do just fine without him, going to the Super Bowl the following year.

    There was just one problem.

    The Revenge!

    Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were waiting for them.

    The Raiders would go on to get spanked by the Bucs 48-21 in a loss so devastating that the Raiders would go on to suck for many years thereafter, just finally becoming respectable again this last year.

    Al Davis should never have let him go.

9. Giants vs. Patriots

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    Drawing First Blood

    Nobody wants to be the team that a record gets set on, but the Giants had to watch the Pats set three—two on one play.

    In Week 17 of the 2007 NFL season, the Patriots played the Giants on their quest to complete the perfect season. Both Tom Brady and Randy Moss were just shy of setting records, Brady for most touchdowns thrown in a season, Moss for most touchdowns by a receiver.

    They both would achieve their goals when Brady connected on a deep pass to Moss, and the Patriots would go on to finish 16-0.

    Birds were chirping, and the world still made sense.

    The Revenge!

    In Super Bowl XLII, God personally held the football to David Tyree's helmet—see picture—after a desperation pass by Eli Manning that would lead to the game-winning touchdown, thus proving once and for all that God is a Giants fan...just as I suspected.

    The Giants would go on to win 17-14, holding the Patriots to their fewest points all season. Then the universe collapsed, and we were all sucked into a black hole.

    Everything we call "reality" is now a dream.

8. Manning Gets Over the Hump

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    Drawing First Blood

    Up to 2006, Tom Brady had owned the Colts.

    In fact, two of the three losses the Colts had suffered in the playoffs had come at the hands of the Pats prior to that year. Their loss in 2004 was particularly painful, as Manning had thrown for a record 49 touchdowns that year.

    They lost that game 20-3.

    However, momentum was starting to swing the other way, as the Colts played the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game in 2006.

    The Revenge!

    History was looking like it might repeat itself, as the Colts found themselves in an early hole, down 21-6 at halftime. Then Peyton Manning—the second-best quarterback in the league—directed an 18-point comeback to lead the Colts to victory.

    Manning and the Colts would go on to defeat the Bears in the Super Bowl, giving Manning his first and only championship ring.

    I lost 20 bucks on that stupid AFC Championship Game, and I'm still looking for my revenge.

7. Lakers vs. Celtics

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    Drawing First Blood

    There are a couple instances of first blood in this intense rivalry, both drawn by the Boston Celtics.

    In 1984, the Celtics and Lakers met in the NBA Finals in an intense series that went the distance. The Celtics would go on to win Game 7, with Larry Bird winning the Finals MVP.

    Upset at the loss, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vowed to be even more awesome.

    The Revenge!

    And they were.

    Just the following year, the Lakers would get another shot at the Celtics, this time capitalizing on the opportunity. They did it in fewer games than the year before, winning in six.

    They would go on to beat the Celtics again in the 1987 Finals.

    Most recently, the Celtics got revenge by beating the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers in 2008 in six games. Upset at the loss, Kobe Bryant vowed to be more awesome.

    They met again in the 2010 Finals, but this time the Lakers won in seven games.

6. Red Sox vs. Yankees

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    Drawing First Blood

    The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is a long and storied one, but it hit a new peak for fans in 2003.

    The "Curse of the Bambino" was said to have been responsible for the Red Sox's 86-year title drought, though it looked like the Sox had a chance to end the curse in 2003, when they played the Yankees in the AL Championship Series.

    The Yankees would go on to beat the Sox in seven games, earning yet another trip to the World Series, where they would play the Florida Marlins.

    Luckily for the Red Sox, they didn't have to watch the Yankees win, as they lost in six games.

    The Revenge!

    Luckily for the Red Sox, they would get another shot at it the following year.

    After falling behind in the series 3-0, the Sox rallied to win the following four games—the first time ever done in MLB history—highlighted by Curt Schilling's "bloody sock" in Game 6.

    The Red Sox would go on to win the World Series, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in a sweep, thus breaking the totally real and logical curse once and for all.

5. Favre vs. the Packers

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    Favre, apparently, isn't the most decisive guy, flip-flopping all over the place following the 2007 season as he contemplated retirement.

    The problem is, he wouldn't stop contemplating.

    The Packers would eventually move on and trade him to the Jets, and Favre was none too pleased. Unfortunately, as the Jets didn't play the Packers that season, Favre would just have to wait to personally show the Packers he still had some fight left in him.

    Then, in 2009, Favre was signed by the Vikings, and his opportunity would come.

    The Revenge!

    Favre beat the Packers not once, but twice—both at home and in Lambeau.

    You could argue that Favre should never have been in a position to have to get revenge, seeing as he probably would have been the Packers' starting quarterback for a couple more years if he just would have simply said, "I'm coming back."

    But he didn't and would retire after finally looking his age in the 2010 season.

    As for Favre's replacement, Aaron Rodgers, he would go on to beat the Vikings in both meetings the following year and win the Super Bowl.

    At least Favre will always have those two games.

4. San Francisco vs. Dallas

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    Drawing First Blood

    A lot of people lost to the Cowboys during their dynasty run from 1992 to 1995, so the 49ers shouldn't feel too bad about it.

    The Cowboys would knock the 49ers out of the playoffs in the 1992 NFC Championship Game and again in the 1993 NFC Championship Game, both on their way to back-to-back Super Bowl victories.

    Then in 1994, the 49ers would see them again, of course, in the conference championship.

    The Revenge!

    This time they would win it.

    Steve Young would go on to put an end to the "can't win the big one" tag, putting an exclamation mark on the season with a record-setting Super Bowl victory, throwing six touchdowns, the most in the big game.

    As for the Cowboys, they were never the same again. Just kidding—they won the Super Bowl the following year, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    And then they were never the same.

3. Reggie Miller vs. the Knicks

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    Drawing First Blood

    Led by Reggie Miller, the Indiana Pacers continuously ran into the same problem in the playoffs, and that problem was Patrick Ewing's ugly mug and the New York Knicks.

    Also, Spike Lee

    The Knicks would beat the Pacers in the first round of the 1993 playoffs and again in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, crushing Reggie Miller's skinny, bony spirit.

    The Revenge!

    In the second round of the 1995 playoffs, Miller would get a third shot at the Knicks, and he would do something in Game 1 that will live forever in NBA lore.

    He scored eight points in nine seconds to close out Game 1, stunning the Knicks and setting the stage for what would end up being a seven-game series that the Pacers would win.

    Unfortunately, they spend so much time and energy beating the Knicks that they couldn't handle Shaquille O'Neal and the Orlando Magic in the next round, losing in seven.

2. Michael Jordan vs. the Pistons

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    Drawing First Blood

    It's hard to imagine that anyone could have Michael Jordan's number, but Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons consistently kept Jordan from reaching the promised land.

    For three consecutive years from 1988-1990, the Pistons would knock the Bulls out of the playoffs, and it's probably what's responsible for Jordan's rage.

    The Revenge!

    He released that rage in the 1991 Eastern Conference finals, sweeping the Pistons in the process.

    It's the series that launched the Bulls dynasty, as they would go on to the win the NBA Finals that year, as well as the following two years.

    They would go on to complete a second three-peat, winning the championship in '96, '97 and '98.

1. Dirk (and Country) vs. the Heat

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    Drawing First Blood

    No. 1 and still fresh in our minds.

    In 2006, the Mavericks held a 2-0 lead vs. the Heat in the NBA Finals. Then Dwyane Wade lost his mind and led the Heat to victory in four consecutive games to take the NBA title.

    Needless to say, he would be voted Finals MVP. Dirk, on the other hand, kicked a lot of things, while Mark Cuban blamed the refs.

    The Revenge

    In 2011, the Mavericks would once again face the Heat in the NBA Finals—a very highly rated Finals—with a chance to right the wrong from 2006.

    And they would.

    After falling behind 2-1 in the series, the Mavericks wouldn't lose another game, as NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki released five years of frustration on the star-studded Heat.

    LeBron would continue to be called "the King with no ring," despite the fact kings are known more for their crowns, not their rings. Nobody cares about a king's ring. But I digress.

    The Mavericks' Finals win made a lot, and I mean A LOT, of people happy. I even recall seeing a few rainbows shoot out of some asses. It was both beautiful and disgusting.


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