Here’s the only criterion that any play of the decade needs to meet: Did it get you out of your seat? Did you stand up and shout at the television or your phone as it unfolded? These were the 10 moments of the 2010s that cleared that high bar, moments you’ll be talking about as long as you’re watching sports. Unbelievable, inspiring, astounding, all at once — these were the best plays of the 2010s.
Cleveland Indians, Chicago had to endure extra innings, multiple comebacks, a rain delay and a heart-stopping bottom of the 10th inning before throwing off four generations of frustration. ‘ data-reactid=”30″>Sometimes it’s not the play, it’s the moment. The exact play that ended the 2016 World Series isn’t all that important — an easy infield groundout — but what it represented is immeasurable. A century of frustration, a century of incompetence, a century of being a punch line — over and done in one magnificent, agonizing, transcendent Game 7. And of course The Almighty couldn’t let Cubs fans win easy, no — against the almost-as-woebegone Cleveland Indians, Chicago had to endure extra innings, multiple comebacks, a rain delay and a heart-stopping bottom of the 10th inning before throwing off four generations of frustration.
world cup” data-reactid=”32″>7. Carli Lloyd’s Hat Trick, 2015 Women’s world cup
Sixteen minutes. That’s all it took to transform Carli Lloyd from star to icon to legend. Sixteen minutes, three goals, one world cup. Lloyd dominated the 2015 world cup final the way few ever have, scoring two goals on set pieces and a third from nearly midfield, the equivalent of a sharpshooter feeling it and pulling up from the center-court logo. To play with that kind of abandon, that kind of freedom, that kind of fearlessness in the most important game of your life … that’s a special combination of skill and courage, and it marked Lloyd as one of the most remarkable players in world cup history, male or female. Oh, and the U.S. won 5-2, but you probably could have guessed that.
As putts go, it wasn’t particularly dramatic, a short tap-in for bogey. As moments go, it couldn’t have been bigger: Tiger Woods, standing on the 18th at Augusta, clinching the most unlikely win in his history … and perhaps the history of golf itself. After a decade that included scandal, injury, surgery, brushes with the law and failed comeback after failed comeback, here was Woods, back at the pinnacle of his sport. A few years before, he’d been sitting alone in his mansion playing Call of Duty and eating cereal; now he was standing triumpant before an audience of millions. He embraced his children — who’d been too young to remember Dad winning anything big ever before — and put a bow on one of the best comebacks of the decade.
This is the rare game that would have ended up on this list no matter who won. Villanova and UNC traded body body blows in the 2016 NCAA championship, with Villanova unable to hold off Carolina’s charges. Finally, with 4.7 seconds remaining and down three, Carolina’s Marcus Paige drained a three-pointer that seemed it would send the game to overtime. But instants later, Villanova’s Kris Jenkins buried a buzzer-beating three-pointer to win the championship for Villanova, 77-74. You won’t find two more clutch back-to-back shots paired with one another … well, almost anywhere.
One man against an empire. One man carrying an entire city on his shoulders. One man leaving his heart, soul, spirit and will out on the hardwood. Under two minutes remaining, Game 7, 2016 NBA Finals, Golden State’s Andre Iguodala dribbling to what appears to be an easy, open lay