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Flashback: Chasing O.J. Simpson

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
OJ SimpsonSam Mircovich/ReutersOn a big sports day that included the NBA Finals and the Rangers' Stanley Cup celebration, viewers tuned in to watch O.J. Simpson and Al Cowlings lead police on a low-speed chase around Los Angeles.

Do you remember where you were on June 17, 1994? On this day 20 years ago, O.J. Simpson led police officers on a low-speed chase on Los Angeles freeways after failing to turn himself in on charges that he murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The bodies of Brown Simpson -- Simpson's ex-wife and mother of the couple's two children -- and Goldman were found outside of Brown's condo on June 13. Investigators believed Simpson was responsible for their deaths and requested he turn himself in. When he failed to do so, Simpson was declared a fugitive.

Simpson was spotted that evening on Interstate 405 in a now-infamous white Ford Bronco driven by his friend and former teammate Al Cowlings. For 60 miles and about 90 minutes, Simpson and Cowlings led dozens of police cars. Believing Simpson had a gun, police were concerned he was going to take his own life. All three of the major networks went to live coverage, and more than 95 million Americans sat glued to their televisions. NBC even minimized Game 5 of the NBA Finals to a small box in the corner of the screen and made the pursuit its primary coverage. The chase is widely considered one of the most iconic television moments in history. Simpson eventually returned to his home in Brentwood, remained in his car in the driveway for another 30 minutes, and then surrendered. He was taken into custody and held without bail.

Simpson's trial began in January of 1995. The proceedings aired live on Court TV and received extensive coverage around the world. After nearly 10 months, Simpson was found not guilty on Oct. 3, 1995. He is currently serving a 33-year sentence at Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada for an unrelated 2008 conviction of kidnapping and armed robbery.

Lasting Major Moment for Tiger

June, 16, 2014
Jun 16
Tiger WoodsDoug Pensinger/Getty ImagesTwenty-four majors have come and gone since Tiger Woods last hoisted the trophy.

On this day in 2008, Tiger Woods won his 14th and last major with a playoff victory over Rocco Mediate at the U.S. Open. Making his return to competitive golf after a two-month absence due to a knee injury, Woods battled pain throughout the weekend but managed to surge to the top of the leaderboard after the third round at Torrey Pines. Woods started Sunday with a two-shot lead over Mediate, but the two were locked in a tie by the day's end. On Monday, the pair squared off in an 18-hole playoff for the ages. Still tied at the end of the round, Woods finally emerged victorious on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to claim his third U.S. Open title. The grueling win took a toll, and Woods announced he would miss the remainder of the season to undergo reconstructive surgery on his knee just two days later.

Since that miraculous 2008 victory, Woods has struggled both on and off the course. Injuries and a highly publicized cheating scandal (and subsequent divorce from wife Elin Nordegren) in 2009 have sidetracked the former No. 1. Still, he was won 14 PGA titles since his win at Torrey Pines but he has yet to win another major.

Currently recovering from back surgery, Woods has been absent from the PGA Tour since March. He subsequently missed both this past weekend's U.S. Open and The Masters. His return date to competition is uncertain.

It's Awesome, Baby!

June, 9, 2014
Jun 9
Dick VitaleStreeter Lecka/Getty ImagesNo one loves college basketball more than Dick Vitale. But these painted fans might be a close second.

In honor of Dick Vitale's 75th birthday today, here are 10 of the coach-turned-broadcaster's signature words and catchphrases -- known as "Vitalisms" -- and their meanings.

1. Diaper Dandy: An exceptional freshman

2. P.T.P.: A prime-time player

3. Cream Puff Delight: A coach who has his/her team play an easy schedule

4. It's awesome with a capital A, baby!: A play, player or game that's really, really awesome

5. All-AT&T Team: Players who can shoot from long distance

6. MIA-er: A player who disappoints during big moments of a game

7. Dow Joneser: An inconsistent player

8. Dipsy-doo Dunk-a-roo: A highlight-worthy slam dunk

9. Surf and Turfer: A superstar

10. Drillin' Reggies When They Need Pete Roses: When a team is shooting 3-pointers but they should be taking closer shots

And if you still can't get enough Dickie V., check out a clip from his very first broadcast in 1979 and a video of his ESPN colleagues doing their best impressions of his iconic catchphrases.

Flashback: Steffi Graf's shutout

June, 4, 2014
Jun 4
Steffi GrafAP Photo/Lionel CironneauIt took Steffi Graf just 32 minutes to beat Natasha Zvereva in the 1988 French Open final.

On this day in 1988, Steffi Graf won her second French Open title with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Natasha Zvereva. The match, which lasted all of 32 minutes, set the record for shortest women's singles title match at a Grand Slam in the Open Era. It also marked the first time a French Open finalist failed to win one game, and was the first time since 1911 at any Grand Slam final that a title was decided by a 6-0, 6-0 score. The then-18-year-old Graf was so dominant, she lost just 13 points in the match and she apologized to the crowd in her postmatch speech and to the 17-year-old Zvereva in the locker room. Graf, who had already won the Australian Open in January, would go on to complete the Golden Slam that year -- winning all four Grand Slam singles titles and an Olympic gold medal in Seoul.

Tipping our cap to Mighty Casey

June, 3, 2014
Jun 3
Casey at the BatJim McIsaac/Getty Images"Mighty Casey" often is brought to life for appearances at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

On this day in 1888, the iconic poem "Casey at the Bat" was first published in the San Francisco Daily Examiner. Written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer under the pen name "Phin" about a baseball team in the fictional town of Mudville, the prose is a comedic ode to the sport. It initially received little fanfare, but it won national acclaim after actor and comedian DeWolf Hopper read the poem aloud to an audience comprised of members of the New York Giants and the Chicago White Stockings in August of 1888. It quickly rose to mainstream popularity and is still beloved today. Thayer's classic has been adapted, referenced and recreated in a variety of mediums, including movies, books, comics and orchestras. The poem's protagonist, Mighty Casey, was even featured on a U.S. postage stamp in 1996.

To celebrate its anniversary, you can read the original poem in its entirety here or listen to James Earl Jones' famed rendition here.

Happy Birthday, Abby Wambach!

June, 2, 2014
Jun 2
Abby WambachKevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesBirthday girl Abby Wambach is one of the best to ever play the game. She's got the goals to prove it.

Happy birthday, Abby Wambach! The global soccer superstar turns 34 today. The youngest of seven children, Wambach was the National High School Player of the Year in 1997 as a senior at Our Lady of Mercy High School in Rochester, New York. She went on to have a remarkable collegiate career at Florida, leading the Gators to the national title in 1998 and being named the SEC Player of the Year in 2000 and 2001. Wambach, a forward, set school records for goals (96), assists (49), points (241), game-winning goals (24) and hat-tricks (10) during her four-year stint. Wambach made her first appearance with the U.S. national team in 2001 and scored her first (of many) international goal in April of 2002. Wambach was named to the 2003 women's World Cup roster and was the team's leading scorer in the third-place effort. Wambach has since become the all-time leading women’s scorer in international soccer history, breaking Mia Hamm's record last year, and has led the team to two Olympic gold medals. She married her wife and former Flash teammate Sarah Huffman in 2013 in front of several USWNT teammates in Hawaii. Wambach also plays for the Western New York Flash of the NWSL, and suffered an apparent knee injury Saturday night.

Happy Birthday, Tobin Heath!

May, 29, 2014
May 29
Tobin HeathDoug Pensinger/Getty ImagesBirthday girl Tobin Heath plans to rejoin the USWNT and the Portland Thorns after the Paris Saint-Germain season ends.

Happy birthday, Tobin Heath! The U.S. women's soccer star turns 26 today. A former standout at North Carolina, Heath helped lead the Tar Heels to three national championships in 2006, 2008 and 2009 and was a two-time NCAA first-team All-American. While still a student, the New Jersey native made her debut with the U.S. senior team in January of 2008 and was the youngest member on the gold-medal winning team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Heath has been a valuable member of the team since and helped lead the United States to a 2012 Olympic gold medal and a second-place finish at the 2011 Women's World Cup. The midfielder has eight goals in 73 appearances with the national team. Heath also plays for Paris Saint-Germain in France and the Portland Thorns of the National Women's Soccer League. She helped the Thorns clinch the 2013 league championship with the game-winning goal and was subsequently named MVP of the championship game. Heath is expected to rejoin the Thorns and the USWNT after the Paris Saint-Germain season ends next month.

10 Fast F-A-C-T-S About The Bee

May, 28, 2014
May 28
Spelling BeeAlex Wong/Getty ImagesNearly 300 of the best spellers from around the world compete this week in Washington, D.C., with the ultimate title on the line.

The preliminary rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee start Wednesday (ESPN3) in Washington, D.C., with the semifinals and finals scheduled for Thursday (10 a.m. ET on ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN). Here are 10 fast facts about the annual event.

1. Nine spellers competed in the first National Spelling Bee, which was held in 1925. The bee took a break during the World War II years, and this marks the 87th competition. There have been 89 champions crowned, with co-champions declared in 1950, 1957 and 1962. Girls have claimed 47 titles, and boys have won 42 times.

2. This year's bee features 281 spellers. All 50 states are represented, as well as the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Department of Defense Schools in Europe, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.

3. Of the 281 participants, 190 (or 67.6 percent) attend a public school. Only 11 of the spellers are homeschooled.

4. There are 142 girls and 139 boys in the 2014 field, making it the third straight bee in which girls outnumber boys.

5. The past 11 champions and 14 out of the past 15 have been return contestants. The last champion to win in a debut appearance was Pratyush Buddiga in 2002.

6. There are 78 spellers making a return visit to the bee and 13 competitors making their third trip. Sriram J. Hathwar, the most experienced contestant, is making his fifth appearance.

7. The spellers range in age from 8 to 15 and from second grade to eighth grade.

8. Two competitors in the 2014 field, Vanya Shivashankar and Ashwin Veeramani, are siblings of past bee winners.

9. The shortest winning word in the bee’s history was “luge” in 1984. A word with 13 letters has been the championship-clinching word seven times.

10. The champion takes home cash and prizes totaling more than $40,000.

On Top of the World

May, 27, 2014
May 27
Bristish Polar TeamAP Photo/David CheskinLucy Roberts, Caroline Hamilton, Pam Oliver and Zoe Hudson were given a hero's welcome at London's Heathrow Airport after completing their trek to the North Pole.

On this day in 1997, the first all-woman expedition successfully reached the North Pole. The group, comprised of 20 British women and two professional female guides from the United States and Canada, made the 620-mile trek across pack ice in relay style. The team was split into five groups of four women, and each team completed its designated leg of the six-week journey. Professional guides Matty McNair and Denise Martin made the entire trip. Upon nearing their final destination, the ecstatic last group ran the remaining stretch and planted the British flag into the ground. McNair documented the experience in her 1999 book "On Thin Ice: A Woman's Journey to the North Pole." The history-making trek came 11 years after Ann Bancroft became the first woman to travel across the ice to the North Pole. She and five male teammates successfully achieved the feat in 1986.

NBA Draft Lottery: 5 Fast Facts

May, 20, 2014
May 20
NBA Draft LotteryJesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesWhich team will be the lucky loser this year and receive the first pick in next month's NBA draft?

Before the balls start bouncing in the annual NBA draft lottery tonight (7 p.m. ET on ESPN), here are five fast facts you should know.

1. With a 25 percent chance, the Milwaukee Bucks have the best odds to win the No. 1 pick. The Philadelphia 76ers (19.9 percent) and Orlando Magic (15.6 percent) have the next-best opportunities.

2. Since the draft lottery changed to its present format in 1994, the team with (or tied for) the best odds has landed the No. 1 pick just three times in 20 years -- the 76ers in 1996, the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 and the Orlando Magic in 2004. Oddly, teams with the third- and fifth-best odds have won the most lotteries -- four times each.

3. Of the 13 teams in the 2014 lottery, the Cavaliers have received the top pick the most times at five (1971, 1986, 2003, 2011, 2013). The Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns have never had the No. 1 selection.

4. The Los Angeles Lakers are in the lottery for just the third time in history. They got the 10th pick in both 1994 and 2005.

5. Despite 19-year-old headliners Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, 2014 has the lowest number of underclassmen declaring for the draft since 2003. Forty-five underclassmen declared, one fewer than last year and 35 fewer than the record 80 in 2010.

#TBT: Andy Murray arrives

May, 15, 2014
May 15
Andy MurrayMatthew Stockman/Getty ImagesSince winning the US Open boys title in 2004, Andy Murray has gone on to win more than $30 million in prize money and 28 ATP titles.

In honor of reigning Wimbledon champion Andy Murray's 27th birthday today, we look back at the Scottish tennis star's first big win on the world stage. In 2004, after starting play on the Challenger Tour the previous year, the then-17-year-old took home his first major trophy when he won the boys' title at the US Open. Seeded third, Murray beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 6-2 in the final. After the match, Murray thanked his mom, Judy, for "making lots of noise." That same year, Roger Federer beat Lleyton Hewitt in the men's final to claim his fourth Grand Slam title and his first of five straight in New York. Murray went on to represent Great Britain later that month in the Davis Cup, and, by 2005, he had cracked the Top 100 in the world rankings. Telling the BBC shortly after his win at Flushing Meadows that he hoped to one day make the world top 10, Murray has since won the US Open (2012), an Olympic gold medal (2012), Wimbledon (2013) and a slew of other tournaments. He is ranked No. 8 in the world -- after reaching a career-high No. 2 in 2009 -- and is playing in the Italian Open this week.

Famous Farewells

May, 14, 2014
May 14
SeinfeldJoseph Del Valle/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images"Seinfeld" officially went off the air on this day 16 years ago, but you can still find the show in syndication today... and pretty much every day.

On this day in 1998, the final episode of the iconic TV sitcom "Seinfeld" aired on NBC after nine side-splitting seasons. In honor of the classic show's departure, here are five memorable exits in sports.

1. Lou Gehrig: After 17 legendary seasons with the New York Yankees, "The Iron Horse" was forced to retire after being diagnosed with a disease since named after him. On July 4, 1939, he addressed the Yankee Stadium crowd and called himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth" in a speech for the ages.

2. Pat Summitt: Less than a year after disclosing her diagnosis of early onset dementia, the winningest college basketball coach in history announced she would be stepping down as head coach at Tennessee. She passed the torch -- and whistle -- to her longtime friend and assistant Holly Warlick during her retirement press conference on April 19, 2012.

3. Andre Agassi: After announcing his retirement plans during the summer of 2006, the eight-time Grand Slam champion entered the U.S. Open knowing it would be his last tournament. Despite suffering from chronic injuries, Agassi beat his first two opponents and advanced to the third round, where he lost to Benjamin Becker 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5. Agassi received a long standing ovation from the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium. He tearfully spoke to the crowd and gave an emotional thank you to the fans after the match.

4. Mike Schmidt: The Philadelphia Phillies third baseman struggled to speak through his tears as he announced his imminent retirement during the 1989 season. Schmidt, who played all 18 of his major league seasons in Philadelphia, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.

5. Brett Favre: Shortly after the Green Bay Packers lost in overtime of the NFC championship game, Favre said he "had nothing left to give" in an emotional retirement announcement in March of 2008. A month later he expressed he was having second thoughts and he famously unretired to join the New York Jets in August. After another near-retirement, Favre joined the Minnesota Vikings and officially retired after the 2010 season. Not that anyone believed him.

Chris Evert's heyday on clay

May, 12, 2014
May 12
Chris EvertTony Duffy/Getty ImagesChris Evert's 125-match winning streak ended in 1979 with a loss to then-16-year-old Tracy Austin.

On this day in 1979, Chris Evert's 125-match winning streak on clay was broken with a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (4) loss to Tracy Austin in the semifinals of the Italian Open. Her remarkable run began in August of 1973 and included two French Open titles during that span. She did not play in Paris' Grand Slam in 1976, 1977 and 1978 due to commitments with World Team Tennis. Weeks after losing to Austin in Rome, Evert went on to win another title at Roland Garros. She would win four more singles titles in Paris -- making it seven in all -- before retiring in 1989. From 1973-81, Evert went 197-1 on clay. Evert's 125-match streak on clay remains the longest of any player, of either gender, in the Open Era.

Remembering Maggie Dixon

May, 9, 2014
May 9
Maggie DixonAP Photo/Stephan SavoiaThe late Maggie Dixon, who coached Army to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 2006, is remembered every year at a basketball event named in her honor.

Today, on what would have been her 37th birthday, we remember Maggie Dixon, the beloved former women's basketball coach at Army.

After playing four years of varsity ball at San Diego, Dixon turned to coaching at the suggestion of her older brother, Jamie, the head men’s basketball coach at Pittsburgh. Upon moving to Chicago in the spring of 2000, Dixon sought out DePaul women’s coach Doug Bruno and begged for a job on his coaching staff. There were no positions available, so Bruno tapped Dixon to help run his summer camp. Within a year, she had secured an assistant coaching position with the team.

Dixon remained part of Bruno’s staff until 2005, when she was offered the head coaching job at Army days before the start of the 2005-06 season. Compiling a 20-11 record, Dixon led the Black Knights to their first NCAA tournament. Weeks after losing to Tennessee in the first round, Dixon died of a heart arrhythmia. She was just 28 years old.

Dixon's death was mourned throughout the college basketball world. She was buried at West Point Cemetery, an honor usually reserved for high-ranking military officials.

As a way to continue her legacy, the Maggie Dixon Classic was created ahead of the 2006-07 season and has been played annually since. Jamie Dixon's Pittsburgh men's team played in the inaugural event at West Point. The event has since moved to Madison Square Garden, where it remains today, and often features the elite programs in women’s basketball. It also houses a heart and health expo aimed at increasing awareness.

USA-Canada rivalry resumes

May, 8, 2014
May 8
Sydney LerouxCooper Neill/Getty ImagesBorn and raised in British Columbia, American star Sydney Leroux scored the winning goal for the U.S. in the last game against Canada.

The United States and Canada renew their women's soccer rivalry tonight in Winnipeg (8 p.m. ET on ESPN3 and Here are five fast facts to get you prepared for the border battle.

1. The U.S. has an all-time record of 47-3-5 against Canada and won the lone match between the squads in 2014 with a 1-0 victory Jan. 31 in Frisco, Texas. Canadian-born Sydney Leroux, the top U.S. scorer in 2014 with five, scored the winning goal for the USA. Canadian players and fans are still smarting from a 4-3 USA win at the 2012 London Olympics.

2. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo is one shutout away from tying Briana Scurry for the most in U.S. history with 71.

3. After back-to-back losses at the Algarve Cup in March, the U.S. has strung together three straight wins. Tonight's game will be Team USA's second match under interim head coach Jill Ellis, who took over for the April 10 match against China PR in San Diego (a 3-0 victory), after U.S. Soccer parted ways with former head coach Tom Sermanni on April 6.

4. With more than 25,000 tickets sold, both teams could be playing in front of their largest crowd of the year. Investors Group Field, located on the University of Manitoba campus, is home to the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and will be one of the host venues for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. The rivals have met once before in Winnipeg -- a 4-1 U.S. win on July 27, 1990.

5. The U.S. will bring a 22-woman roster to Winnipeg but will be without some notable faces. Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Kristie Mewis and Rachel Van Hollebeke will not make the trip due to injuries, and Tobin Heath will be absent because of her commitment with Paris-Saint Germain in France.