Here are 10 of the most unforgettable moments from the year in Boston sports. These aren’t necessarily the best moments, but they’re the ones you’ll remember years from now.
Raisman reads statement – Jan. 19
Needham native and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman read her victim impact statement in front of one-time team doctor Larry Nassar at Nassar’s sentencing hearing. Nassar, who was found guilty of molesting hundreds of girls, sat silently as Raisman spoke her mind.
“Larry, you do realize now that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force, and you are nothing,” she said to Nassar at the time, according to The Boston Globe. “The tables have turned … Larry, it’s time for you to listen to me.”
She called it the “worst epidemic of sexual abuse in the history of sports” and pleaded for an investigation into those who enabled and protected Nassar.
Raisman noted that Nassar didn’t take gymnastics away from her, adding that she still loves the sport. She was one of more than 150 women and girls to make statements.
Butler benched – Feb. 4
Eagles fans will remember Super Bowl LII for the magical win over the Patriots, but Patriots fans recall what could have been.
One common gripe among locals that still lingers to this day is the benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler, who saw the field for just one special teams snap in a 41-33 loss. Butler played all 16 regular-season games and both playoff games, but coach Bill Belichick never called his number on defense against the Eagles.
Pats captains were aware that Butler was being sat. But exactly when they were informed I can't tell you. Must say though, Butler is an emotional guy and he was nothing but happy as hell when we talked with him throughout the week.
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) February 5, 2018
Nick Foles racked up 373 passing yards and three touchdown passes, and New England’s secondary looked out of sorts the bulk of the way.
“I guess I wasn’t playing good or they didn’t feel comfortable,” Butler told ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “I don’t know. But I could have changed that game.”
Pierce’s place in history – Feb. 11
As Andra Day’s “Rise Up” blared over the loudspeaker, Paul Pierce raised his jersey to the TD Garden rafters and saluted a raucous crowd.
His jersey was the 22nd to be retired in Celtics history, and the first since Cedric Maxwell in 2003. Pierce guided the Celtics to a championship in 2008 and finished his career as the second-leading scorer in franchise history behind John Havlicek.
— NBA (@NBA) February 12, 2018
That night, he watched a tribute video, listened to speeches given in his honor, and addressed those in attendance.
“If I never make the Hall of Fame or anything, to go up and make the rafters as a retired number for the Celtics, that’s just enough,” he said afterward. “That’s enough for me. Everything else is icing on the cake.”
Des-tiny – April 16
When Desiree Linden took first place on the women’s side in the 2018 installment of the Boston Marathon, she became the first American to do so in 33 years.
Lisa Rainsberger was the last American winner in 1985, but Linden completed the task this year after coming within two seconds of victory in 2011.
Following a fourth-place finish in 2017, she said she was burnt out and “hated everything about running,” but she started training again that September and worked up to this year’s race.
Post-race with the champion, Des! pic.twitter.com/dpbwwuCJAc
— Boston Marathon (@bostonmarathon) April 16, 2018
The weather was nasty, but Linden found a way to finish in 2 hours, 39 minutes, and 54 seconds.
“It’s supposed to be hard,” Linden told reporters after her victory. “It’s good to get it done.”
How many licks does it take? – May 4
Brad Marchand’s antics resurfaced when he licked Ryan Callahan in Game 4 of the Bruins-Lightning NHL playoff series.
Amid a second-period skirmish, Marchand skated up to Callahan and appeared to lick him on the face. Marchand stayed in the game and found Patrice Bergeron for a goal in the third period to make it 3-2 Bruins, but the Lightning went on to win 4-3 in overtime to take a 3-1 series lead.
The NHL wanted Brad Marchand to stop licking other players.
— ESPN (@espn) May 5, 2018
The NHL informed Marchand his actions “were unacceptable,” and the league said he would be disciplined if he acted similarly in the future.
“All I’m going to say is there’s absolutely no place in our game for that,’’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after the game. “I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. I don’t. How would you feel if I just walked over to you right now and just gave you one big lick right on the chin all the way up?”
Celtics-Sixers confetti chaos – May 5
The 76ers had trusted the process long enough, and they were ready to party.
Near the conclusion of Game 3 of the the NBA’s Eastern Conference semifinals, confetti fluttered through the air and gradually made its way to the ground. It was a fitting way to punctuate a dramatic playoff game, but there was one significant problem: The game wasn’t over.
After Jaylen Brown’s layup gave the Celtics a two-point edge with 1.7 ticks remaining in regulation, 76ers guard Marco Belinelli hit an improbable fadeaway jump shot as time expired.
Oh no, Philly… not like this pic.twitter.com/4Hvwo2J5eZ
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) May 5, 2018
The remarkable play elicited a heap of confetti, as the person on confetti duty that night believed it was a 3-pointer and the game was over. On second glance, referees ruled the shot a two, and the game headed to overtime after an impromptu cleanup session.
The 76ers thought they won the game in regulation.
They had to clean up the confetti before OT. pic.twitter.com/bpah6R9TYe
— ESPN (@espn) May 5, 2018
“I wanted to play right away,” Horford told reporters at the time. “I didn’t care about the confetti.”
Horford converted inside and hit two free throws to give the Celtics a 101-98 edge late in OT. Naturally, it came down to Belinelli again. This time, he took a 3-pointer, but the shot didn’t fall.
The Celtics survived a scare and went on to win the series in five games.
Gronkowski fires up Gronkowski – June 10
It doesn’t take much to invigorate Rob Gronkowski.
Whether it’s a touchdown, a Monster Jam event, or a provocative pun, Gronkowski has a proclivity for bringing the ruckus.
This was a new form of entertainment as Gronkowski watched his namesake, Gronkowski the horse, take second at the Belmont Stakes. Gronkowski lost to Triple Crown winner Justify, but the horse put up a valiant fight as the jovial tight end had the time of his life.
live look at Gronkowski watching Gronkowski pic.twitter.com/Tin4WRxZDj
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) June 9, 2018
After betting $69, Gronkowski’s group walked away with $950.
“At first I was like, ‘Dang, we’re in last place by like 15 yards,’” Rob Gronkowski told The Boston Globe at the time. “But I was like, ‘The race ain’t over, you know?’ And then he’s getting closer and closer and all of a sudden he is fourth, third, second, and I just started going ballistic.”
Banner year – Sept. 19
What would eventually turn into a banner year for the Red Sox started out as a banner year for a local fan.
Louie Iacuzzi, a Malden resident, found the Red Sox division title banner on McGrath Highway in Somerville, scooped it up, and possessed it for about 48 hours. Initially, he and his friend wanted to give it back to the Red Sox, but they didn’t want to do so without getting anything in return.
Iacuzzi eventually returned it for nothing and deemed himself a local hero.
“If I didn’t pick it up, a hundred people would have ran over it,” he said at the time. “I don’t want a million dollars. I don’t need a million dollars. All I wanted was to maybe bring my family, my friends to a [expletive] baseball game, maybe meet a player … The flag is back home with the Boston Red Sox.”
18-inning extravaganza – Oct. 26-27
This was one of those classics where you remember where you were when it took place.
Max Muncy had the last laugh that morning, as his solo shot cleared the left-field wall at 3:30 a.m. EST. Red Sox fans have chosen to block that blip out, instead focusing on pitcher Nathan Eovaldi’s heroics.
What Nathan Eovaldi did for the @RedSox was priceless and showed a lot of guts and heart. This outing definitely guarantees that everybody will be looking at him.
— Pedro Martinez (@45PedroMartinez) October 27, 2018
Manager Alex Cora has repeatedly said that’s the moment he’ll remember most, when Eovaldi came on in relief and tossed six masterful innings on 97 pitches. No reliever for the Dodgers pitched more than two, but Eovaldi essentially turned in a quality start when the stakes were at their highest.
Nine pitchers took the mound for each team, but Eovaldi stood out among the rest.
“I told him how proud I was of him,” Cora said at the time. “The effort was amazing. It was a great baseball game. People back home are probably waking up to the end. But it’s probably one of the best, if not the best, game I’ve ever been a part of.”
The Red Sox, of course, prevailed in five games to win their fourth World Series in the last 15 years.
Been covering baseball games since I was 16. High school, Legion, college, minors and now the big leagues. What Eovaldi is doing is the most impressive thing I've seen in a game.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) October 27, 2018
Miracle in Miami – Dec. 9
Too soon? The Patriots are AFC East champs again, and the Dolphins missed the playoffs, so it seems fair to bring up the Dec. 9 debacle.
With seven seconds left on the clock, Ryan Tannehill dropped back in the pocket at the Dolphins’ 25-yard-line. He threw the ball 20 yards to Kenny Stills, who lateraled it to DeVante Parker.
— NFL (@NFL) December 9, 2018
Parker found Kenyan Drake near midfield, and Drake made multiple defenders miss before scooting by Gronkowski and into the end zone for a walk-off victory. He chucked the ball into the stands, as the Dolphins celebrated a shocking 34-33 win in style.
“I saw it was Gronk in front of me, and I was just like, ‘Look, I’ve got somewhere to be,’” Drake said. “I had to get in the end zone.”