There’s nothing like a viral sports moment (Megan Rapinoe’s meme-inspiring goal celebration, for example). Over the years we’ve seen inspirational events, heartbreaking situations, and stunning videos etched in sports history forever. Of all the viral sports moments of the last five years, the following eight events were the most relished and shared of all.
Jose Bautista’s bat flip (2015)
The Toronto Blue Jays were in a heated 2015 first-round series against the Texas Rangers. One of the best hitters in baseball, Jose Bautista entered the postseason with 40 home runs. He hit the go-ahead shot in the seventh inning, punctuating it with an epic bat flip and instantly becoming an internet sensation.
Ronda Rousey meets her kryptonite (2015)
Entering her 2015 championship bout against underdog Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey was the baddest woman on the planet. She made a name for herself laying waste to any woman who stepped into the octagon. However, one brutal kick to Rousey’s neck dropped her from the top of the mountain, beginning the downswing of her illustrious career.
Usain Bolt’s Olympic smile (2016)
The fastest man alive took things to new heights at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Usain Bolt easily won the 100-meter dash, but it was a photo of him smiling during the race, which lasted less than 10 seconds, that went viral. Bolt went on to win the gold medal in the event.
Colin Kaepernick takes a knee (2016)
Say what you want about Colin Kaepernick and his views on politics in America. But there’s no denying that when the former 49ers quarterback kneeled during the national anthem, he created a viral sports moment. Currently out of the NFL, Kaepernick sparked outcries across the nation, including a response from the newly elected President Donald Trump.
Bryan Bickell’s last goal (2017)
NHL fans didn’t view the Carolina Hurricanes as a strong goal-scorer during his 10-year career. However, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Bryan Bickell got a final chance in the last game of his career. The then-31-year-old had been 0-1 for shootouts. But Bickell scored his final goal, giving the Hurricanes a win against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland’s brawl (2017)
You could say Bryce Harper’s brash attitude makes him one of the most disliked guys in baseball. So, when Hunter Strickland hit him with a 98-mph fastball the All-Star right fielder lost it. Harper’s fight with the San Francisco Giants pitcher turned into a melee, as both benches cleared in one of the craziest MLB brawls we’ve seen in a long time.
The fight left Giants outfielder Mike Morse with a concussion, and he took it as a sign. He told USA Today, “Maybe the concussion thing was God’s way of saying, ‘It’s time to take it to the house, man. You have no business being here.'”
J.R. Smith makes an all-time blunder (2018)
Entering the 2018 NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers sought revenge against the Golden State Warriors, who’d won the championship in 2017. Game 1 was an epic battle, and when it came down to the final moments J.R. Smith made an all-time gaffe.
With the game tied, the shooting guard picked up a loose ball, but instead of calling a timeout he dribbled out the clock and sent the game into overtime. LeBron James‘ reaction was one of utter shock and quickly became one of the most popular memes in history.
Alex Ovechkin finally lifts the Cup (2018)
For years, Sidney Crosby and the Penguins spoiled Alex Ovechkin’s chances of winning a Stanley Cup. The 2018 season was a different story, however. The Capitals finally exorcised their Pittsburgh demons and won the Stanley Cup over the Las Vegas Knights. It was an epic final hurdle to overcome for an NHL player who’ll go down as one of the best in history.
What’s your favorite viral moment?
Out of these viral moments, which one is your favorite? We have to go with Holly Holm taking down Ronda Rousey. The moment changed UFC history and is considered one of the greatest upsets in the sport.