SI has covered six decades of sports history. The question: If you could go back to relive one of those years, which would it be? You decide. Here are our choices for the most thrilling 12-month periods of the last 60 years.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY 1. AP 2. U.S. HOCKEY HALL OF FAME 3. AND 4. MARVIN E. NEWMAN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 5. NEIL LEIFER/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 6. RACINGONE/GETTY IMAGES 7. CBS/LANDOV 8. JAMES WHITMORE/TIME LIFE PICTURES/GETTY IMAGES
1960 Bill Mazeroski won the World Series for the Pirates with a Game 7 walk-off home run against the Yankees (1). The original Miracle on Ice: The U.S. Olympic hockey team upset the Soviets and then beat Czechoslovakia to win gold (2). In Rome, Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three Olympic gold medals in one Games (3). Cassius Clay, later to become Muhammad Ali, burst onto the scene by winning Olympic gold (4). The upstart AFL debuted (5). Junior Johnson, one the greatest drivers in NASCAR history, won his only Daytona 500—and invented the technique of drafting (6). CBS televised the Winter Olympics, the first Games aired in the U.S. (7). Rafer Johnson won Olympic gold in the decathlon (8).
PHOTOGRAPHS BY 1. GEORGE LONG FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2. HERB SCHARFMAN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 3. AND 4. NEIL LEIFER/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 5. MORRIS BERMAN/WIREIMAGE.COM 6. JOHN DOMINIS FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 7. ERIC SCHWEIKARDT FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 8. RICH CLARKSON/NCAA PHOTOS
1972 On their way to the NBA title, the Lakers finished off an NBA-record 33-game winning streak (1). The A's took the first step in their World Series three-peat, beating the Reds in a seven-game classic (2). Mark Spitz swam to seven gold medals at the Munich Olympics (3). The Dolphins won all 14 regular-season games on their way to the NFL's only perfect record (4). Franco Harris kick-started the Steelers dynasty with the Immaculate Reception (5). Olga Korbut captivated the world with three Olympic golds (6). Jack Nicklaus won the Masters and the U.S. Open (7). UCLA finished a 30--0 season in March, then started another 30--0 season that fall on the way to the last of its seven straight NCAA titles (8).
PHOTOGRAPHS BY 1. JERRY WACHTER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (BARKLEY), SCOTT CUNNINGHAM/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (JORDAN), BILL BAPTIST/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (OLAJUWON), RICHARD MACKSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (STOCKTON) 2. JOHN W. MCDONOUGH FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 3. NEIL LEIFER/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 4. JOHN IACONO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 5. PETER READ MILLER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 6. RICHARD MACKSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 7. HEINZ KLUETMEIER/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
1984 Future Hall of Famers Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon and John Stockton (clockwise from top left) arrived in the NBA (1). Carl Lewis sprinted (and jumped) to four gold medals at the L.A. Olympics (2). Mary Lou Retton became the first woman from outside Eastern Europe to win the all-around Olympic gymnastics gold (3). The Tigers started 35--5 and won the World Series (4). Eric Dickerson set the NFL season-rushing record, with 2,105 yards (5). Larry Bird and Magic Johnson met in the NBA Finals for the first time; the Celtics won in seven games (6). Boston College QB Doug Flutie beat Miami with the most famous Hail Mary pass in history (7).
PHOTOGRAPHS BY 1. RICK STEWART/GETTY IMAGES 2. DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 3. SIMON BRUTY/GETTY IMAGES 4. JOHN W. MCDONOUGH FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 5. ANDY HAYT/GETTY IMAGES 6. CHRIS O'MEARA/AP 7. JOHN W. MCDONOUGH FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
1991 In a seven-game epic against the Braves, Kirby Puckett and the Twins won the greatest World Series ever (1). Mario Lemieux and the Penguins won their first Stanley Cup (2). For the first time in eight years, the U.S. won the Ryder Cup (3). The passing of the torch: In his first NBA Finals appearance, Michael Jordan led the Bulls over the Lakers and Magic Johnson, who was making his last trip to the Finals (4). Rickey Henderson became the alltime stolen base king (5). Wide right: Buffalo's Scott Norwood missed a late field goal, sending the Bills to the first of four straight Super Bowl defeats (6). Duke upset UNLV in the Final Four before winning the NCAA championship (7).
PHOTOGRAPHS BY 1. BILL FRAKES/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2. BOB MARTIN/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 3. PREVOST/PRESSE SPORTS/US PRESSWIRE 4. DAMIAN STROHMEYER/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 5. AND 6. JOHN BIEVER/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
2008 Usain Bolt blazed to three golds—and three world records—at the Beijing Olympics (1). Michael Phelps outdid Spitz with eight swimming golds (2). Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in a five-set Wimbledon final, perhaps the greatest match ever (3). The Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, ending New England's quest for the NFL's first 19--0 season (4). Bad knee and all, Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open in a playoff over Rocco Mediate (5). Mario Chalmers tied the NCAA championship game with a buzzer beater, then led Kansas to a win over Memphis in overtime (6).