The difference between winning and losing in sport is often incredibly small and can be decided by one play, one shot, one save or, in the case of the Melbourne Stars in yesterday’s BBL final, a significant batting collapse.
The Stars now join an unwanted list of all-time sporting chokers, after costing themselves their first Big Bash trophy and gifting chairman Eddie McGuire two Grand Final chokes in just under six months.
However, the Stars choke pales in comparison to some of the epic collapses on this list.
Melbourne Stars BBL08 Final 2019
Chasing 146 runs, and on their way to their first BBL title the Stars were 0/93 at the 13th over and chairman Eddie McGuire was making arrangements for the premiership celebrations at Crown Casino.
Marcus Stoinis was then bowled out for 39 runs. Then they self-destructed, lost 7/19 and suffered a 13 run defeat to give their cross-town rivals the Renegades the BBL08 trophy.
Glenn Maxwell (1), Peter Handscomb (0) and Dwayne Bravo (4) played a part in the choke.
This will now go down as an all-time great choke in Cricket that would make the South African World Cup teams of 1999 and 2003 proud.
In the post-match press conference, Stars skipper Glen Maxwell told reporters “We probably needed to kill the game a bit earlier, go a bit harder at the start while the ball was hard and just get ahead of the run-rate.” Ahh, you reckon>
Collingwood – 2018 AFL Grand Final
Mention the name “Dom Sheed” to a Collingwood supporter and it will break their hearts.
The 2018 Grand Final joins an illustrious list of Collingwood Grand Final heartbreaks known better to AFL fans as “The Collywobbles”
Collingwood led for most of the day during last year’s Grand Final, but late in the final qaurter Sheed marked the ball from 40 meters out and put the Eagles in front to ensure a famous Grand Final victory.
The Magpies record in Grand Finals now stands at 27 losses, 15 flags and two draws.
Oh, and by the way…it was a free kick.
2017 – Super Bowl 51 aka the 28-3 Game
For the first 40 or so minutes of Super Bowl 51, it was all Atlanta with a 28-3 lead as the third quarter wound down.
The biggest comeback in Super Bowl history before then was 10 points, teams with that big of a lead in playoff history had won almost 100 games and never lost from that position and there was absolutely no imaginable way the Falcons would blow this one.
Unfortunately, a tired defence finally relented and could not stop a nearly perfect Tom Brady and the New England Patriots as they scored 31 unanswered points to claim the Super Bowl.
You might be sick of the Patriots winning but at least they (usually) make it interesting.
2016 – Golden State Blows a 3-1 Lead in the NBA Finals
Traditionally you associate heartbreaking championship losses with the city of Cleveland and its sports teams.
In 2016 though, LeBron James and his supporting cast of loyal Cavaliers were on the other end of one of the most miraculous comebacks in NBA history.
Golden State just had to win one of the next three games and they would be crowned NBA champions for the second straight season.
At home in California, the scores were level at halftime and an injury to Andrew Bogut swung momentum firmly towards Cleveland.
Even in Game 7 the Warriors had their chances and could not put the Cavs away.
Dustin Johnson At The 2015 US Open
Dustin Johnson looked as though he was on his way to the US Open Title when he strutted to the 18th hole for his eagle putt, but disaster struck.
Johnson missed his original, tougher putt to take the outright lead and he had the chance to force an 18 hole playoff with compatriot Jordan Spieth, but he missed that very simple putt to cost himself the tournament.
Greg Norman At The 1996 US Masters
Johnson’s choke at the US Open was nothing compared to Greg Norman’s epic meltdown at the 1996 US Masters.
Norman went into the final round with a six stroke lead, but he played a horrid round of golf to finish five shots behind Nick Faldo.
Chris Webber In The 1993 NCAA College Basketball National Championship
Chris Webber and University of Michigan Wolverines side known as the Fab Five were expected to cruise to victory in the 1993 NCAA Championship, but a moment of madness from the future NBA star cost his team the title.
Webber had the ball in his possession with his team trailing by two points with 11 seconds left to play when he called a timeout.
The only problem was that his side didn’t have any timeouts left and he was charged with a technical foul that essentially ended the game.
South Africa In The 1999 Cricket World Cup Semi-Final
The South African Cricket team has turned the choke into an art form and their Pièce De Résistance was in the 1999 Cricket World Cup Semi-Final against Australia.
South Africa needed just one run to win from the last three balls, but a simply awful piece of running from both Lance Klusener and Allan Donald cost them the game in hilarious fashion for Australian fans.
Team New Zealand In The 2013 America’s Cup
New Zealand are another nation that have made a habit of choking in major sporting events, but their staggering choke in the America’s Cup was on a whole other level.
Team New Zealand held a massive 8-1 lead over Oracle Team USA, but they lost the next eight races and failed to claim the famous trophy.
Collingwood In The 1970 VFL Grand Final
Fierce rivals Carlton and Collingwood met in the 1970 VFL Grand Final and the Magpies looked like they were going to cruise to victory after they took a 73-29 point lead into the half-time break, but they completely fell apart in the second half of the game and Carlton scored a memorable comeback win.
While Carlton’s amazing comeback was pretty special, the highlight of the game remains Alex Jesaulenko’s famous mark.
Jana Novotna In The 1993 Wimbledon Final
Jana Novotna was the Greg Norman of women’s tennis in the 1990s and the 1993 Wimbledon final was her 1996 US Masters.
Novotna was one point away from claiming a 5-1 lead in the third set, but her game completely fell apart and Steffi Graf won the next five games to take the title.
A tearful Novotna was consoled by The Duchess Of Kent after the match.
AC Milan In The 2005 UEFA Champions League Final
AC Milan had two hands on the Champions League Trophy when they went to a 3-0 lead thanks to a Hernan Crespo double at the end of the first half, but just 15 minutes into the second half they had given up that margin.
The fixture ended up going to a penalty shootout and misses from Serginho, Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko saw Milan suffer a humiliating defeat.
Socceroos In The 1998 World Cup Qualification Qualifier
While the above loss was heartbreaking for AC Milan fans, it did not go close to causing the nationwide heartbreak that this game did.
Australia was set to qualify for their first World Cup in 24 years when they took a 2-0 victory over Iran, but sloppy defense saw the Aussies concede two goals that sent Iran to the World Cup on the away goals rule.
Parramatta Eels In The 1998 NRL Preliminary Final
Parramatta are generally considered the biggest chokers in the NRL and they have not won a Premiership since 1986 due to their inability to win big games.
Their biggest choke came in the 1998 Preliminary Final against Canterbury when they conceded 16 points in a painful ten minutes of rugby league.
The Bulldogs claimed victory in the extra time period and Eels villain Paul Carriage was never seen in the NRL again.