DALLAS — For the past three-plus decades, sports have played a majestic role in my life.
In fact, sports, for me, have become a way of life.
A lifestyle, of sorts.
A trend that, in assessing the overall landscape of my life, practically personifies the person I’ve become.
Sports, this inspiriting, galvanizing movement that customarily inspire athletes to become empowered through dedication, accountability, and leadership, are what immeasurably fueled my desire to engage in a rather competitive industry whereby I would be afforded the opportunity to meet and interact with athletes from various walks of life.
Fortunately for me, my dream, thanks in large part to sports, has come full circle, a fantasy that has given way to an assortment of memories, most notably personal ones during which I’ve savored throughout the course of professional sportswriting career.
That said, as I commemorate my 41st birthday on Saturday, I share with you 41 memorable sports moments, according to yours truly.
- Passing up the chance to watch Hall of Famer Michael Jordan play in his next-to-last NBA season when the Washington Wizards played at the Memphis Grizzlies. I felt compelled to relinquish the pair of tickets to my mother, who said to me after that game, “I can always say I had a chance to watch (Jordan) play.”
- Wrapping each wall in my bedroom with magazine photos of NBA players as a junior high schooler in the late 1980s. I knew at the time that someday I’d interview those same players.
- Witnessing the San Francisco 49ers thoroughly dispatch the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl 19, 38-16.
- Owning my very first authentic NFL football as my mom handed it off to me like a quarterback to running back on my 10th birthday.
- Fielding arguably the worst whipping of my life when, on my 15th birthday, I caught the wrath of my mom for throwing a temper tantrum and ripping apart my nightstand. Surely, this isn’t a sports moment in any shape or form. But in a way, it certainly seemed like it, considering I ran around our three-bedroom apartment like an Olympic gold medal sprinter while trying to elude mom’s extension cord.
- Watching Michigan edge Seton Hall in overtime in the 1989 NCAA Men’s Basketball championship game as Glen Rice embraced the ball at game’s end and unleashed tears of joy.
- Watching Joe Montana’s game-winning touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining in Super Bowl 23.
- Watching the 49ers race to a 27-3 halftime lead and completely dismantle the Denver Broncos, 55-10, in Super Bowl 24.
- Witnessing sentimental favorite and the No. 11 seed Loyola Marymount basketball team pulverize Michigan, 149-115, in the second round of the NCAA tournament following the death of Hank Gathers.
- The Buffalo Bills losing four consecutive Super Bowls.
- The 1984-85 Memphis State men’s basketball team advancing to the school’s second Final Four.
- “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison and Louisville upsetting Duke in the 1988 NCAA championship game.
- Anfernee “Penny” Hardway and Treadwell High versus Anthony Douglas and cross-town rival East.
- The 1986 New York Mets.
- Watching the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series with my paw paw, Edward Johnson, Sr.
- Watching Dallas’ World Class Championship Wrestling at the break of sunrise every Saturday with grandpa.
- Watching Memphis’ Championship Wresting every Saturday morning with my paw paw and uncles.
- Witnessing the Memphis State basketball team win the Metro Conference basketball championship in 1987 against Louisville in the always hostile Freedom Hall.
- Witnessing pro wrestler Jerry Lawler become world champion for first time in his illustrious career on May 9, 1988 over Kurt Henning.
- The Kansas City Royals’ 11-0 shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the 1985 World Series.
- Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers losing four times to the Cincinnati Bearcats during the 1991-92 season.
- Penny Hardaway losing his final college game where his NBA career began (in Orlando).
- Steve Young engineering the 49ers to a 49-26 win over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl 29.
- The scene of Michael Jordan crying on the locker room floor while blanketing the game ball after winning his first NBA title following the death of his father.
- Len Bias’ shocking death two days after the 1986 NBA Draft.
- Magic Johnson announcing his retirement from the NBA on November 7, 1991 after learning he had acquired the AIDS virus.
- Attending Monday night wrestling virtually every week with my uncle, Darryl Crawford.
- Covering my very first sporting event as a sports intern for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper in May 1996.
- Partaking in my second sports internship for The Commercial Appeal in May 2000.
- Assuming a full-time job a sports reporter for The Commercial Appeal in August 2000.
- Interviewing Laila Ali during her fight in the Mid-South in June 2002.
- At the request of Jerry Lawler, meeting the Hall of Fame wrestler over lunch in March 2010 for an exclusive interview that lasted more than two hours.
- Covering Kobe Bryant on the night he became the Los Angeles Lakers’ all-time leading scorer in March 2010.
- Covering the 2013 NBA All-Star Game.
- The 2007-08 Memphis Tiger basketball team.
- John Calipari vacating Memphis for Kentucky or, as he said, “the Notre Dame of college basketball.”
- Mario Chalmers breaking the hearts of Tiger fans with a game-tying 3-pointer that forced overtime in the 2008 NCAA final.
- The Los Angeles Clipper’s historic comeback from 27 points down to shock the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of the 2012 NBA playoffs.
- The Grizzlies reaching the Western Conference Finals the following year.
- Relocating to Dallas in April 2014 to cover Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks.
- Thanking God in advance for allowing me to stick around to witness and savor more sporting moments.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to email@example.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.