5 Best Sports Comeback Stories in History
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If you love sports, there are few things more thrilling than a comeback story. Comeback stories combine our favorite aspects of sports: rooting for the underdog and rooting for your favorite player. As a sports bar in West Phoenix, we’ve been able to bear witness to a few of the best sports comeback stories with beloved patrons in our restaurant. Here are a few of our favorites.
Basketball: Michael Jordan
First Run: Well known for his domination on the court, Michael Jordan won three NBA championship titles in a row with the Chicago Bulls from 1991-1993. Lesser known is his short stint in the minor leagues of baseball.
What Happened: After the death of his father, Jordan briefly retired from professional basketball to pursue another passion, baseball. Not being suited for the sport, he returned to the NBA in March 1995.
Comeback: Back with the Bulls, Jordan would lead his team to another three championship titles (1996-1998), solidifying that he was the greatest player of all time.
Golf: Tiger Woods
First Run: Not only was Tiger Woods the youngest player to ever win a PGA Major title at age 21, but he also held the World’s Number 1 ranking for 281 consecutive weeks (5.5 years) and spent a total of 683 weeks (13 years) in the number one position throughout his career.
What Happened: A combination of physical injuries and personal struggles caused him to fall out of the top 500 golfers in the world by 2016. By 2018 he was ranked 1,193.
Comeback: Just this year (2019) at age 43, Woods won his first Major Championship title in over 10 years at the Agusta Masters. We have yet to see where this comeback story will go, but we’re rooting for ya, Tiger!
Tennis: Monica Seles
First Run: At age 16, Monica Seles was the youngest ever woman’s player to win the French Open Championship. She went on to rack up a total of eight Grand Slam titles and held the number one ranking two years in a row at year ending, all before the age of 20!
What Happened: On April 30, 1993, Seles was a victim of an on-court attack when a crazed Steffi Graf fan leaped onto the court and stabbed her in the back with a 9-inch knife.
Comeback: After returning to professional tennis in 1995, she quickly won the 1996 Australian Open, bringing her total Slam wins to nine. We can only wonder how many more she would have won had she not been cut down in her prime.
Surfing: Bethany Hamilton
First Run: Born and raised in Hawaii, Bethany Hamilton’s comeback is more profound because of the odds she faced. At the age of 13, she was already placing number one in professional surfing competitions and her future in the sport looked promising.
What Happened: In 2003, at the tender age of 13, she went for a morning surf along a familiar Kauai beach. Out of nowhere, a tiger shark attacked her, severing her arm just below the left shoulder. For most, this would have been a career ender, but not for Bethany.
Comeback: One month after the fateful attack, Bethany was back on her board. After teaching herself to paddle the most intense surf in the world with one arm, she entered her first competition after the attack in 2004. Since, she has competed at an extremely high level, placing 1st in several international competitions.
Boxing: Geroge Foreman
First Run: Forman came onto the boxing map when he won the heavyweight title in 1973 after a second-round knockout of undefeated champion Joe Frazier. He successfully defended his title until his first professional loss in 1974 to Muhammad Ali.
What Happened: Struggling to secure another title, Forman retired in 1977, just four years after going pro. For the next ten years, he would do some soul searching and even become an ordained Christian minister.
Comeback: In 1994 at the age of 45, Forman became the oldest world heavyweight champion by defeating 26-year old Michale Moorer. When he retired for the second time in 1997 at age 48, his final record was 76 wins (68 of which were knockouts) and only 5 losses.
If you’re looking to catch the NBA finals or any other big game, head on over to see us at Long Wong’s AZ Famous Wings in West Phoenix and enjoy some of the best wings in Phoenix and a cold beer!