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10 unforgettable Boston sports moments from 2018

Here's a look back at the most unique and mesmerizing storylines of the year.

Paul Pierce raises his number to the rafters. Matthew J. Lee / Globe staff

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.

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.

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.”

Paul Pierce raises his number to the rafters.

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.

Desiree Linden hoists the trophy after winning the women’s division of the 122nd Boston Marathon.

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.


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 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.

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.

“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.

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.

Louie Iacuzzi and James Amaral enjoy their newest temporary possession in Malden.

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.

Ironically, it was the one game the Red Sox lost to the Dodgers, but it was also the one that will live on in baseball lore as the longest World Series game ever, at 7 hours, 20 minutes.

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.

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.

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.

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.”