Five Questions. Five Sports. One Year.
How well do you remember these significant sporting events of 2002?
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Question 1 (American Football):
On February 3rd, 2002, New Orleans, Louisiana was the host of Super Bowl XXXVI. The biggest game of the NFL’s calendar was contested between the underdogs, the New England Patriots, and the overwhelming favourites, the St. Louis Rams, in front of 72,922 fans in the Superdome.
The Rams, led by their historic ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ offence, finished the regular season with an NFL-best 14-2 record. They dismantled the Green Bay Packers 45-17 in the divisional round before edging the NFC Championship game 29-24 against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Patriots, led by first-year starter Tom Brady, topped the AFC East with an 11-5 record. The Oakland Raiders took the Foxboro team to overtime during the 2001 AFC divisional game, which has since been dubbed the ‘Tuck Rule Game’, but Adam Vinatieri kicked a 23-yard field goal to win the game for the Patriots. In the NFC Championship game, New England defeated the number one seeded Pittsburgh Steelers 24-17.
Despite dominating the league and being the 14-point favourite, The Rams could not win their second Super Bowl trophy in three years. Instead, the Patriots won their first Lombardi trophy in their history, winning the game 17-20. They also snapped the AFC East’s long streak of not being able to win a Super Bowl championship, as the division’s teams had lost eight Super Bowls in total. Tom Brady, who completed 16 of 27 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown, was named Super Bowl MVP.
The game famously came down to the final play. With 1:30 remaining and without any timeouts, The future seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback led his Patriots down the field to set up kicker Adam Vinatieri for the game-winning field goal as time expired. To this day, this remains the biggest upset in the Super Bowl since Super Bowl III.
How far out was Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal?
Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal was from 48-yards out. The kicker is the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, with 2,673 points and has won the most Super Bowls in his position, winning four rings, three with the Patriots and one with the Indianapolis Colts.
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Question 2 (Football):
The 2002 FIFA World Cup was the first time the tournament was held in Asia, as South Korea and Japan hosted the historic event. It was also the first World Cup to be held in two countries simultaneously. Japan hosted the final at the International Stadium in Yokohama. Brazil won the biggest prize in international football. They defeated Germany 2-0 in the final, with Ronaldo, the Golden Boot winner, twice beating Oliver Khan, the Golden Ball and Yashin Award-winning goalkeeper.
The tournament’s biggest surprise was how well the Turkish and South Korean teams played, with both nations making the semi-finals. However, the Koreans journey to the semi-finals was filled with controversy. They faced allegations of corruption as they appeared to be given favourable decisions by the officials during their controversial victories over Portugal in the Group Stages, Italy in the round-of-16 and over Spain in the quarter-finals. They were eventually eliminated by Germany in their nation’s capital Seoul, losing 1-0 in the Sangam Stadium.
On the other hand, Turkey made the semi-finals on their merits alone but was aided by an easy knockout route. They finished second in the group stage, behind Brazil, before eliminating Japan in the round-of-16 and Senegal in the quarter-finals via golden goal. A rematch with Brazil was waiting for them in the semi-finals. Turkey was defeated by the South American side 2-1 in the group stage. Unfortunately for Ay-Yıldızlılar, they would lose by one goal again. Ronaldo’s 49th-minute strike was enough to seal a spot in the final for the Brazilian and end Turkey’s fairytale run.
South Korea met Turkey in the third-place playoff, with the latter leaving victories after a thrilling 3-2 contest. Hakan Şükür scored the quickest goal in World Cup history in this game.
How many seconds did it take for him to find the back of the net?
It took Hakan Şükür just 10.8 seconds to net the game’s opening goal. The Turkish striker broke Vaclav Masek’s record, which stood since 1962. Masek scored in 16 seconds during Czechoslovakia’s 3-1 victory against Mexico.
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Question 3 (Basketball):
The 2002 NBA Finals was contested between the back-to-back reigning champions Los Angeles Lakers and the New Jersey Nets. The 56th edition of the finals was held between the 5th-12th June and was televised on NBC in America. Game four of the finals remains the last NBA game broadcast on the network to date.
After obtaining Jason Kidd before the start of the season, the Nets snapped a three-year playoff drought. Throughout the season for his new team, Kidd starred. He guided the New Jersey franchise to a 1st-place finish in the Eastern Conference and came runner-up in the MVP voting, losing out to Tim Duncan. The Nets defeated the Indiana Pacers 3-2 in the first round of the playoffs dispatching the Charlotte Hornets in five games in the Conference Semifinals. Then, they met the Boston Celtics in the Conference Finals. After falling 2-1 down, the Nets bounced back to take the series and book their place in the NBA Finals.
Despite the Lakers possessing a better record during the regular season than their fellow finalists, the LA team only managed to finish third in the Western Conference, behind the Sacramento Kings and the San Antonio Spurs. The defending champions, led by future Hall of Famers Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, went into the playoffs hoping to recreate their success one year ago. in 2001, they managed to achieve the greatest run in NBA Playoff history, going 15-1 in the postseason. They got off to a perfect start, sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. The California franchise dropped their first game of the playoffs to the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Semifinals but still dominated the series 4-1. The Sacramento Kings proved to be their greatest threat in their quest for a three-peat. Their Conference Finals series went all the way to overtime in game 7, but the Kings were unable to stop the Lakers juggernaut, falling 112-106 to drop the series 4-3.
The NBA finals proved to be a far easier task for Los Angeles to overcome than their battle against the Kings. The Lakers won their third straight NBA title on June 12th after sweeping the Nets 4-0. This championship sealed Phil Jackson’s remarkable third three-peat of his coaching career, after winning two previously with the Micheal Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the ’90s. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal significantly impacted the finals, with the latter earning Finals MVP honours after averaging 36 points and 12 rebounds in the series.
Both Bryant and O’Neal are enshrined within Hoop Hall, but they were not the only future hall of fame players on that Lakers roster.
What was the name of the other player who was later inducted into the hall of fame?
Mitch Richmond was the other future hall of fame player that was a member of the Lakers’ 2002 championship-winning roster. The man whose number is retired by the Sacramento Kings, signed with the Lakers for the 01-02 season. In what turned out to be his final season as a professional player, Richmond was used strictly as a bench member and only registered four minutes of postseason action. Nevertheless, he still managed to make the last basket of his career in game 4 of the finals and finally won his first and only NBA Championship in his final game.
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Question 4 (Boxing):
The year’s biggest boxing event took place on June 8th at The Pyramid in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. The WBC, IBF, IBO, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles were on the line as the champion, ‘The Lion’ Lennox Lewis, took on the former undisputed heavyweight champion, ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson. Lewis came into the fight at 249lbs and possessed a 39-2-1 professional record. On the other hand, Tyson weighed in at 234lbs, the second-heaviest in his career, and was 49-3 before the contest.
The heavyweight fight was initially scheduled for April 6th, 2002, in Las Vegas. However, the event had to be relocated following a press conference brawl in New York. Tyson made a beeline for Lewis as soon as he stepped on stage at the Hudson Theatre. A bodyguard of the champion stepped in to block the challenger from approaching, which led to Tyson throwing a left hook at the bodyguard. This led to a mass brawl between the fighters and their camps. During the melee, WBC president, José Sulaimán claimed to be knocked out when he hit his head on the table. He later filed a US$56 million lawsuit against Lewis and Tyson for injuries caused in the scuffle. Tyson also was forced to pay Lewis US$335,000 after admitting to biting the leg of the English boxer.
After everyone was separated, Tyson unleashed a profanity-riddled tirade towards someone who was believed to be either Lennox’s mother or a female photographer, while grabbing his crotch. Because of what occurred in New York, The state of Nevada refused to grant Tyson a boxing licence, thus forcing the fight to be moved to Memphis, one of the few states who did not join Nevada in refusing to allow Tyson to compete.
In front of 15,327 spectators inside The Pyramid, the reigning, defending heavyweight champion of the world, Lennox Lewis, knocked out Mike Tyson in the eighth round. Tyson won the opening exchanges, but Lewis controlled the majority of the fight. By the fifth round, ‘Iron’ Mike was visibly drained. When the seven-round came, he was barely putting up any resistance. With 47 left of the eighth round, Lewis connected with a heavy right cross, knocking Tyson down to the canvas and out for the count.
The Heavyweight title clash between two legendary titans of the sport may have been the headlining bout, but a young, future boxing superstar was fighting on the event’s undercard.
What was the name of this fighter?
A 23-year-old Manny Pacquiao defeated Jorge Eliécer Julio to retain the IBF Super Bantamweight title. Pacquiao was competing in just his third fight in the United States and had yet to become the superstar he is today. The Filipino boxer is now considered by many as one of the greatest boxers of all time. He is the only eight-division world champion in the sport’s history and has won twelve major world titles to date.
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Question 5 ( Ice Hockey):
The Carolina Hurricanes made their very first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2002. Their opponents, The Detroit Red Wings, were no strangers to the big occasions, as they had been there 21 times before and won the cup nine times.
The Red Wings came into the 2002 playoffs as the Central Division champions, Western Conference regular-season champions and the President’s trophy winners, amassing an impressive 116 points, finishing 15 points ahead of second-placed Boston Bruins. However, the Original Six team looked in trouble of suffering an early exit after dropping the first two games of the Conference Quarter-Finals to the Vancouver Canucks. The Michigan franchise managed to bounce back, winning their next four straight games to advance. After tearing through the St. Louis Blues in the Conference Semi-Finals, Detroit faced the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the Colorado Avalanche, in the Western Conference Finals. After an intense back-and-forth battle, the series went to game 7, where the Red Wings destroyed Colorado 7-0. This result remains the most one-sided game 7 score in NHL history.
Unlike Detroit, who was expected to go far, The Carolina Hurricanes manage to achieve a fairytale run to the Finals. Despite earning the 3rd seed by winning the Southeast Division, they gained the second-lowest point total for a playoff team in the NHL that season with 91, with only Montreal finishing lower with 87. In what was considered a significant shock, Montreal and Carolina faced off in the Conference Semi-finals. In the Quarter-Finals, the Canes upset last year’s Finalists, the New Jersey Devils, 4-2, whereas the bottom-seed Canadiens eliminated the top-seed Boston Bruins by the same score. Carolina came out on top in the battle of the underdogs, moving onto a Conference Finals clash against the Toronto Maple Leafs. After what is still the lowest six-game playoff series in NHL history, the Hurricanes came out on top. They took the series 4-2 and secured their first-ever Stanley Cup final place.
Carolina managed to take game 1 of the Finals, beating the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime. However, from game 2 onwards, the series belonged to Detroit. Led by their Captain Steve Yzerman and Conn Smythe winning defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom, they won the next four consecutive games, all but one by at least two clear goals, to claim the tenth cup in the franchise’s history. They also became the first team in NHL history to win it all after starting the playoffs with two losses at home. The Red Wings coach and Hockey legend Scotty Bowman, who announced in February of 2002 that he would retire after the season had ended, finished his career by lifting the cup for the ninth time in his coaching career. This was also the final Red Wings Stanley Cup triumph to feature members of the famous and influential ‘Russian Five’.
Who were the two remaining members of the ‘Russian Five’ who won the Stanley Cup in 2002?
Sergei Fedorov and Igor Larionov were the only two remaining members of the ‘Russian Five’ in 2002. Vladamir Konstantinov’s career was famously ended after a limousine crash in 1997. He was forced to retire and was lucky to still be alive after the horrific injuries he suffered, leaving him paralysed. Slava Fetisov, who was also in the crash, suffering broken ribs and a punctured lung but made a full recovery, retired after Detroit’s 1998 Stanley Cup win. Finally, Slava Kozlov departed from the franchise after he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in 2001 as part of a package that brought Dominik Hašek to the Red Wings.