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15 Moments That Define Sports in the 1970s

15 Moments That Define Sports in the 1970s

Hank Aaron Braves
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Sports in the 1970s were dominated by a select few, but their names ring on in sports history forever. Athletes like Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali and Mark Spitz dominated their respective sports in the decade. There were also several sports moments during the decade that still resonate today. These 15 sports moments defined the 1970s.

15. Willis Reed's Dramatic Entrance In Game 7 Of The 1970 NBA Finals

Willis Reed Knicks
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15. Willis Reed's Dramatic Entrance In Game 7 Of The 1970 NBA Finals

Willis Reed Knicks
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Date: May 8, 1970

Reed's dramatic entrance in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals is still one of the most memorable moments in NBA Finals history. Playing on a leg with a severe torn thigh muscle, Reed scored the first two baskets of the game for the Knicks. He wouldn't score again for the rest of the game, but what he did was enough to inspire the Knicks to their first NBA Championship in franchise history.

14. Marshall Plane Crash

Marshall Thundering Herd
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14. Marshall Plane Crash

Marshall Thundering Herd
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Date: Nov. 14, 1970

A plane carrying 37 players and eight members of the coaching staff of the Marshall football team went down. All 75 people on board were killed. Despite the tragedy, the team was rebuilt and managed to win two games the following season, including their home opener against Xavier, 15-13.

13. Roberto Clemente Dies In A Plane Crash

Roberto Clemente Pirates
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13. Roberto Clemente Dies In A Plane Crash

Roberto Clemente Pirates
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Date: Dec. 31, 1972

The first Latino player to win a World Series as a starter (1960), receive a National League MVP Award (1966), and win the World Series MVP Award (1971), Roberto Clemente was one of the greatest players in MLB history. In 1972, Clemente was involved in charity work in Puerto Rico, but the plane he was flying in crashed, killing him and his body was never recovered.

12. Billie Jean King Defeats Bobbie Riggs In The Battle Of The Sexes

Billie Jean King Tennis
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12. Billie Jean King Defeats Bobbie Riggs In The Battle Of The Sexes

Billie Jean King Tennis
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Date: Sept. 20, 1973

After beating Margaret Court 6-2, 6-1 in an exhibition match, Bobby Riggs faced Billie Jean King in The Battle of the Sexes. This match was also one-sided, but with Riggs coming out on the losing end. Jean King easily defeated Riggs in straight sets 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 and scored a victory for women everywhere.

11. The Thrilla In Manila

Muhammad Ali Joe Frazier
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11. The Thrilla In Manila

Muhammad Ali Joe Frazier
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Date: Oct. 1, 1975

The pinnacle of the Ali vs. Frazier rivalry, the Thrilla in Manila was the third and final bout between two legendary boxers. The two beat the hell out of each other for 14 rounds before Frazier's corner threw in the towel in the 14th round. One of the greatest man-on-man rivalries ended with Ali holding a 2-1 advantage over Frazier.

10. Carlton Fisk's Home Run In Game 6 Of The 1975 World Series

Carlton Fisk Red Sox
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10. Carlton Fisk's Home Run In Game 6 Of The 1975 World Series

Carlton Fisk Red Sox
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Date: Oct. 21, 1975

Facing Cincinnati's Big Red Machine, the Boston Red Sox were heavy underdogs in the 1975 World Series. Down 3-2 and tied in the 12th inning, Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk hit a walk off home run off Pat Darcy, giving the Red Sox a 4-3 win. The Red Sox would lose Game 7, but his home run sealed one of the greatest games of all time.

9. The Rumble In The Jungle

Muhammad Ali George Foreman
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9. The Rumble In The Jungle

Muhammad Ali George Foreman
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Date: Oct. 30, 1974

In 1974, George Foreman was the king of the ring while Muhammad Ali was still getting back to his old self after being suspended for three and half years as a result of dodging the enlistment into the U.S. Army. In the match, Ali used his now famous rope-a-dope strategy to tire out Foreman and Ali took advantage in the eighth round by scoring a knockout victory.

8. Mark Spitz Wins 7 Gold Medals At The 1972 Summer Olympics

Mark Spitz 1972 Olympics
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8. Mark Spitz Wins 7 Gold Medals At The 1972 Summer Olympics

Mark Spitz 1972 Olympics
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Dates: Aug. 26 to Sept. 10

Before Michael Phelps' record-breaking Olympic performance in 2008, Mark Spitz was the symbol of Olympic dominance in the 1972 Olympic Games. Spitz won seven gold medals in seven different events and also set world records in all of his events.

7. The 1972 Miami Dolphins Complete Their Undefeated Season In Super Bowl VII

Don Shula 1972 Dolphins
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7. The 1972 Miami Dolphins Complete Their Undefeated Season In Super Bowl VII

Don Shula 1972 Dolphins
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Date: Jan. 14, 1973

The 1972 Miami Dolphins completed the NFL's most recent perfect season in an imperfect manner with their 17th victory in Super Bowl VII. Heavily favored against the Washington Redskins, the Dolphins' defense dominated the Redskins, holding them without an offensive touchdown. The Dolphins won 14-7 and only Garo Yepremian's gaffe cost the team a shutout victory.

6. The 1972 Olympic Men's Basketball Final

Doug Collins Coaching
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6. The 1972 Olympic Men's Basketball Final

Doug Collins Coaching
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Date: Sept. 9, 1972

Trailing 49-48 to the Soviet Union in the closing seconds of the 1972 Olympic Men's Basketball Final, American Doug Collins (pictured) sank two free throws to put the United States up by one. The United States lost, however, in controversial fashion after the referees gave the Soviets three separate chances to win the game. In protest, most of the Americans have still not officially accepted their silver medals.

5. The Immaculate Reception

Franco Harris Steelers
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5. The Immaculate Reception

Franco Harrris Steelers
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Date: Dec. 23, 1972

The Pittsburgh Steelers trailed the Oakland Raiders 7-6 late in the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoffs when a lucky break came their way. Pittsburgh's Terry Bradshaw threw a pass to receiver John Fuqua, who lost possession of the ball. Running back Franco Harris scooped it up as it was hitting the turf and scored the game-winning touchdown. To this day, many have contested the call, saying that the pass was incomplete.

4. Secretariat Completes Dominant Triple Crown Run

Secretariat Statue
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4. Secretariat Completes Dominant Triple Crown Run

Secretariat Statue
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Date: June 9, 1973

In one of the most dominant performances in horse racing history, Secretariat, who had previously won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1973, won the Belmont Stakes by a record 31 horse lengths. Secretariat became just the ninth Triple Crown winner and set race records in all three events that year.

3. Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird In The 1979 NCAA Basketball Championship Game

Magic Johnson Larry Bird College Basketball
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3. Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird In The 1979 NCAA Basketball Championship Game

Magic Johnson Larry Bird College Basketball
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Date: March 26, 1979

This year saw the birth of college basketball's popularity and two future superstars who would shape the NBA in the 1980s. The favored Michigan State Spartans, led by Earvin "Magic" Johnson, faced undefeated Indiana State, who was led by Larry Bird. Michigan State won easily 75-64, but these two superstars would eventually put the NBA back on the map in the 1980s.

2. Hank Aaron Breaks All-Time Home Run Record

Hank Aaron Braves 715
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2. Hank Aaron Breaks All-Time Home Run Record

Hank Aaron Braves 715
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Date: April 8, 1974

Before a crowd of 53,775 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Braves outfielder Hank Aaron made history with one swing of the bat. Facing Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing, Aaron hit his 715th career home run, surpassing Babe Ruth's all-time mark. Aaron's mark would eventually be surpassed by Barry Bonds 30 years later, but some still view Aaron as the true home run king.

1. The Munich Massacre

Munich Massacre
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1. The Munich Massacre

Munich Massacre
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Date: September 5-6, 1972

The Olympics are supposed to be the most peaceful event in sports, but one event in 1972 changed everything. Eight Palestinian terrorists from the group Black September kidnapped 11 Israeli Olympic team members before demanding the release of 234 prisoners being kept in Israeli jails. Two were killed initially, leaving nine hostages. In a failed rescue attempt, all nine were killed along with five of the terrorists.

Brian Kalchik is a Detroit Lions writer for RantSports.com. He also adds to the site’s NBANCAA Football, Fantasy and NFL content. Follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google+.

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15 Moments That Define Sports In The 1990s

15 Moments That Define Sports in the 1980s