Sometimes in sports, people don’t like to accept that something has happened. For many people, there has to be a reason behind a loss, victory, or player trade, and that’s when urban sporting legends can be created. Fans are willing to believe anything sometimes to make themselves feel better, and these are arguably the strangest sporting urban legends of all time.
The frozen envelope
In 1985 Patrick Ewing was drafted to the New York Knicks, and many basketball fans thought there was something fishy about it. The general consensus was that New York was such a huge market that they really needed a franchise player to bring in the crowds. As if by magic the Knicks were able to draft Ewing and people immediately began to assume this was too good to be true.
There were two theories on how the draft organizers managed to guarantee Ewing went to New York. The first was that New York’s picture was creased before put in the spinning machine, so the person taking it out could spot it.
The other theory was the Knicks’ envelope was frozen before the draft began so it was identifiable and could be chosen at the right time. It was never proven, but some believe it wasn’t a coincidence that four of the biggest drafts of the ‘80s, Bird, Johnson, Jordan, and Ewing, ended up at leading franchises.
Babe Ruth’s called shot
Many baseball fans know all about the urban legend that is Babe Ruth’s called shot. The legendary hitter reportedly pointed his bat toward the bleachers at center field before hitting the ball precisely there on the next pitch. Due to the lack of evidence, it’s hard to know for sure if Ruth ever achieved this amazing feat, but it’s a great story if he did.
Do you remember when Michael Jordan mysteriously withdrew from playing basketball to give baseball a try? One theory is that this was a cover up to the fact that Jordan was secretly banned from the NBA due to gambling.
It does seem pretty convenient that Jordan went missing for about a year and then decided it was time to give up on baseball to come back and dominate. This was never proven, but many people believe it was why Jordan was in baseball’s minor leagues.
Sonny Liston hits the deck
Muhammad Ali fought Sonny Liston twice, but the second fight has been criticized by many. It was thought that Liston went down far too easily after a shot by Ali that was not powerful enough to knock a heavyweight to the canvas.
The punch has become known as a ‘phantom punch’ because on closer evidence Ali barely swung his fist. Sure he connects, but people think Liston should have made it back to his feet. Eventually he did, but the fight was called off, and Ali declared a controversial winner.
These urban sporting legends have been circulating for many years, but they have never been proven. Under often suspicious circumstances fans and experts have drawn their own conclusions, leading to these bizarre legends.