Happy Birthday ‘One Shining Moment’: 30 Games for 30 Years

The ball is tipped, And there you are…


If you can hear music in your head when you read those words, this is for you. If you get chill bumps when you read those words and hear the music in your head, this is definitely for you.

The greatest playoff in American sports appropriately has the absolutely perfect song that has become associated with it for three decades now. I’m old enough to remember the first playing of One Shining Moment. That championship game is the first one I remember watching til the end. I’ve been through the David Barret version, the Teddy Pendergrass version, survived the Jennifer Hudson one year travesty and have thoroughly enjoyed the best of them all, Luther Vandross. What a song!

And so its 30th birthday has me feeling all nostalgic. Sports and highlight reel nostalgia are like peanut butter and jelly. March Madness and highlight reel nostalgia are like a Chick-fil-A sandwich and sweet tea.

With that in mind, I want to share 30 of my favorite One Shining Moments in the NCAA Tournament of the last 30 years.


The Game: 1987 Indiana v. Syracuse (Championship)

The OSM: I remember Keith Smart shooting it. I remember the body language of the Syracuse players after it was over. I remember the feels I got by seeing “One Shining Moment” make its premiere. It was like finding out about Christmas all over again: “So they can put the best highlights with this glorious music and give us three minutes of chill bump heaven!?!!?” YES, LET’S DO THIS EVERY YEAR!

The Game: 1990 Loyola Marymount v. New Mexico St. (First Round) 

The OSM: Bo Kimble, in tribute to his teammate Hank Gathers who died walking off the court the previous week, shot his first free throw left handed with 14:46 left in the second half. Why does this moment make me cry 27 years later?


The Game: 1990 UConn v. Clemson (S16)

The OSM: Any game where Clemson loses is a real treat to me, but this one was special because UConn was down 1 with exactly 1 second left.  They had to go the length of the court. A-75 foot pass and Dick Stockton with the call: “The shot….YES! The shot’s gonna count! The shot by Tate George…wins it!!!” Euphoria in my house ensued.

The Game: 1991 Duke v. UNLV (Final 4)

The OSM: “Can Anyone Beat UNLV?” That was the Sports Illustrated headline going into the NCAA Tournament. They were undefeated. They beat Duke by 30 in the championship the year prior. In their Final 4 rematch, Anderson Hunt hit a three on UNLV’s first possession and Christian Laettner came down and countered with a three. Laettner scored 9 points in the first three minutes as Duke opened up a 13-5 lead. That shot sent a message that Duke would not be blown out again.  They went on to pull off an upset for the ages.

The Game: 1992 Ga Tech v. Southern Cal (2nd Round)

The OSM: A game that meant nothing really, it was pure exhilaration for a moment in time because James Forrest for Ga Tech caught a pass, down two, with 0.8 seconds left and pirouetted from 25 feet out and nailed it. Miracle shot.

The Game: 1992 Duke v. Kentucky (Elite 8)

I have visual images of this game seared into my brain. The hideous mustaches from Martinez and Farmer. The neck brace from Laettner’s mom. I remember Laettner not missing a shot (10-10 FGs, 10-10 FTs). I remember him stomping Timberlake. I don’t need Google to tell me that the guy for UK who hit the shot before Laettner’s was Sean Woods. This game was like something out of a fantasy novel. The Final Shot is on the short list of greatest sports moments ever.  Thomas Hill’s reaction is almost as iconic as Laettner’s shot itself.

The Game: 1993 Cal v. Duke (2nd Round)

The OSM: Duke was coming off back to back championships. Cal nipped LSU in the first round and LSU coach Dale Brown said “They don’t have a prayer” of beating Duke. With just over a minute to go and Cal down by one point after leading basically the whole game and by 15 at one point, Jason Kidd (11 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists, 4 steals) made an incredible circus shot from his knees and got fouled. He made the free throw, and Duke never led again.

The Game: 1994 Arkansas v. Duke (Championship)

The OSM: Grant Hill tied it with 90 seconds left with a three pointer.  Scotty Thurmond, who used to practice by shooting threes over a broomstick, then made the tie-breaking three pointer over the outstretched arm of Antonio Lang that essentially won Arkansas the National Championship.

The Game: 1996 Purdue v Western Carolina (1st Round)

The OSM: Western Carolina Coach Phil Hopkins broke down and cried in the post game press conference, as his 16-seeded team had three shots to tie or win to try to become the first ever 16 seed to beat a 1 in NCAA Tournament history.  It still hasn’t happened.


The Game: 1996 Princeton v. UCLA (1st Round)

The OSM: UCLA, coming off their first national championship since The Wizard left, was a 4-seed and heavy favorite over Ivy League Princeton. But Princeton showed UCLA the exit “through the back door”.

The Game: 1998 Kentucky vs. Duke (E8)

The OSM: A sweet, sweet revenge game. This time it was Scott Padgett with a the late game-changing shot, even if not as legendary as Laettner’s. He broke the 81-81 tie with a three. I can still see his reaction in my head.  

The Game: 1999 Gonzaga v. Florida (S16)

This was Gonzaga’s coming out party, going from a 10-seed Cinderella all the way to the Elite 8 before barely falling to eventual champ UConn. But what made this special, the third straight win for Gonzaga as an underdog, was Gus Johnson’s call as it ended with Florida missing the potential game-winner: “Gonzaga!!!! The slipper…still…fits!!!!”

The Game: 1999 UConn v. Duke (Championship)

The OSM: By the Vegas gambling line, this is the biggest Championship game upset of my lifetime, even bigger than N.C. St over Houston in 83 and Villanova in 85. Duke just wasn’t going to lose. But UConn went toe-to-toe with them and up by a mere point with 40 seconds left, point guard Khalid El-Amin made an acrobatic driving layup to break Duke’s momentum.  It was the difference.

The Game: 2001 Hampton v. Iowa St. (1st R)

The OSM: I was a Junior at Bible College on Spring Break and I plopped down in the guy’s dorm lobby and waited all day for a great buzzer beater or upset. It finally came late afternoon. Iowa St., the 2-seed, was in complete control and led by double digits late in the game but Hampton came back and finally took the lead on an awkward looking hook by a big man named Johnson with six seconds left. The image of Hampton’s coach being picked up from behind by a player as he kicks and fists pumps in excitement is one I’ll never forget. At the time it was only the fourth time a 2-seed lost its first game.

The Game: 2005 Illinois v. Arizona (E8)

The OSM: Chicago got a little Illini fever in 2005 during their run to the championship game. But the Elite 8 game was the one to remember, as they were down 75-60 with just over four minutes remaining and the run was surely over. But they came storming back, and Deron Williams tied it with a three with 39 seconds left before they won in OT.


The Game: 2006 George Mason v. UConn (E8)

The OSM: An 11-seed mid-major beating a 1-seed Big Conference Giant to go to the Final Four?  Just doesn’t happen.  My favorite part? Verne Lundquist’s call after it ended: “By George the dream is alive!”

The Game: 2006 UCLA v. Gonzaga (S16)

The OSM: This was a truly special Madness finish. Gonzaga gave up a 9-point lead in the last few minutes with the nation’s top scorer, Adam Morrison, breaking down a crying before the game was actually decided. Gus Johnson: “WHAT A GAME!! U-C-L-A!!!  HEART. BREAK. CITY.” I get chills. Every time.


The Game: 2007 Georgetown v. Vanderbilt (S16)

The OSM: I was pulling for Vanderbilt but this was a fantastic finish, with Vandy leading for much of the game but Georgetown pulling it out when Jeff Green scored the game winner at the final buzzer. It looked in real time like he traveled and I imagine some Vandy fans still think he did.

The Game: 2008 Kansas v. Memphis (Championship)

The OSM: So many story lines in this one. Memphis led by 9 with less than two minutes to go. And even up by 2 with the ball in the last 20 seconds, two made FTs by Derrick Rose would all but clinch it. All year Memphis was terrible at FTs and Calipari brushed it off. But they missed several down the stretch, including one by Rose here and gave Kansas a chance to tie. And Mario Chalmers hit perhaps the biggest shot in March Madness history, maybe behind Laettner.

The Game: 2009 N. Iowa v. Kansas (2nd Round)

The OSM: Kansas was looking good to repeat, with the overall #1 seed in the tournament. But 9-seed N. Iowa fought and had the lead in the final minute. And then a guy with a last name with like 14 consonants in a row forwent milking the clock and took an insane three with 37 seconds left that went in and sealed it. “YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS WITH THAT SHOT.” (Dan Bonner)


The Game: 2011 Kentucky v. Ohio St. (S16)

The OSM: Just like the prior game, this one comes down to how the #1 team in the tournament lost well before it was supposed to.  Diebler for OSU tied it at 60 with under half a minute left but Brendon Knight won it on an insane off balance jumper with a few seconds left.   I jumped around my small Chicago apartment when this one went final. Not a Big 10 fan.


The Game: 2011 VCU v. Kansas (E8)

The OSM: OK, so George Mason pulled the 11 seed mid-major over College Basketball 1-seed Goliath five years prior.  There’s no way it could happen again.  Right?   But it did. Shaka Smart, VCU’s coach, stole my heart this tournament.  Against Kansas, they put on a clinic of dribble penetration and kick-out three-point shooting.  Early in the first half Joey Rodriguez found Jaime Skeen on such a play to extend VCU’s lead to 20-10 and you could feel the upset was possible.

The Game: 2012 Lehigh v. Duke (1st R)

The OSM: Duke used to never lose these games. A wide open dunk by a guy named Adams to extend the lead to 61-54 Lehigh with under two minutes left is a play I could watch over and over. That was the moment you felt it was going to happen: Duke was really going to lose. “Absolute Madness!” (Jim Nance)


The Game: 2013 Wichita St. v. Ohio St. (E8)

The OSM: I was torn this game because Ohio St. winning would have nearly sealed me winning my church bracket competition. But I love the upset more. Ohio St. had cut a 20 point deficit down to 3 when Tekele Cotton for WS nailed a three as the shot clock wound down to make it 65-59. Ohio St. never got closer than four after that.

The Game(s): 2014 Kentucky v. Wichita St. (2nd R)

and also Louisville (S16)

and also Michigan (E8)

and also Wisconsin (F4)

The OSM(s): Yes, I’m grouping these games together. These were like quadruplets. It felt like the same game four times.  The one Harrison twin made more clutch shots in this run than 99% of players in their careers. Every game was heart stopping. Every game was won in the final two minutes or final seconds. Nantz, after the one vs. Wisconsin to win it: “Aaron Harrison…Beyond Belief”.


The Game: 2015 Georgia St. vs. Baylor 

The OSM: R.W. Hunter, Jr. (the player) hit an improbable, deep three to win the game 57-56 for 14-seeded Georgia St.  R.W. Hunter Sr. (the coach), fell of out his chair when he hit it. Classic game. Classic moment.


The Game: 16 Villanova vs. UNC (Championship)

The OSM: I don’t need to say much. You saw it. Incredible back and forth game. Incredible UNC comeback from down 10 late in the second half. Incredible shot by Paige to tie it. Incredible shot to win by Jenkins. “DOUBLE ORDER! SAUTÉED!” (Bill Raftery)


So do me a favor…if you love this nostalgia, give yourself 15 minutes today and watch about five of the OSM videos. They are all on Youtube. My personal favorite? 2006, which you can watch here.

Yay March!  Go Gamecocks!!



Gowdy Cannon

I am currently the pastor of Bear Point FWB Church in Sesser, IL. I previously served for 17 years as the associate bilingual pastor at Northwest Community Church in Chicago. My wife, Kayla, and I have been married nearly seven years and have a 3-year-old son, Liam Erasmus. I have been a student at Welch College in Nashville and at Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago. I love The USC (the real one in SC, not the other one in CA), Seinfeld, John 3:30, Chic-Fil-A, Dumb and Dumber, the book of Job, preaching and teaching, and arguing about sports.

26 thoughts on “Happy Birthday ‘One Shining Moment’: 30 Games for 30 Years

    • March 13, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      I remember the Edney shot as it happened and it ended up being enormous since UCLA won the championship. That shot was fairly easy though with the matador defense. Similar to a shot hit by Rick Fox vs. OU in 1989 (I think) – huge game winning shot but it was basically a lay up barely contested.

      I wanted that Heyward shot to go in something awful. The sports science take drives me more crazy to know how close it was! But that is some good info. Heyward is a fantastic pro.

      • March 13, 2017 at 1:06 pm

        Yeah, I was rooting for Heyward then, too. That was a bummer.

        Oh, and I remember Ali Farokhmanesh from 2009; thanks for bringing that up. I often wonder how things go for people like that who so overachieve that they have the best moment of their life before the age of 22, if life is really all downhill for them from there or if they can reinvent themselves. Apparently, AF is now an assistant for another team that KU faced this year, and he felt compelled to relive the aforementioned OSM in practice the day before the game, so I’m guessing he is still pretty much the jerk he was 8 years ago (not that I’m bitter or anything).

        • March 13, 2017 at 9:13 pm

          I can see Farokmanesh being a jerk. It takes a certain boldness to take the shot he did. Boldness can be great or it can be super annoying.

  • March 13, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    The Game: 1992 Duke v. Kentucky (Elite 8)

    I watched this game with my brothers. We were all Duke fans. My dad, a huge b-ball and Duke fan, was out of town. My mom had a migraine and had gone to bed early. When Laettner hit that shot, my brothers and I jumped in the air and celebrated as quietly as we could. My dad called a few minutes later and we celebrated in whispers with him.

  • March 13, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Great list, Gowdy.
    Here’s a few other classic OSM-worthy games:

    1995: 1st round–Villanova vs. ODU
    *Growing up in Hampton Roads, Virginia, I really didn’t have any big-name colleges to cheer for that were good at sports. So it was really exciting for ODU to be in the NCAA tournament. There wasn’t any real “one shining moment” during the game, but it went into three overtimes with ODU pulling off the huge upset. My brother and I were going nuts. We were ecstatic.

    1995: Final Four–Oklahoma St. vs. UCLA
    *I have to admit, I don’t remember much about this game. But I remember in warm-ups, Bryant “big country” Reeves broke the backboard and delayed the game 20 minutes. UCLA won the game.

    1996: 2nd round–Texas Tech vs. UNC
    *OSM– two words… “DARVIN HAM!!!” His put-back, backboard-shattering dunk was the coolest thing I had ever seen in my life as a 13-year-old. And what made it better was that he dunked it on top of 2 UNC players’ heads and TT won the game.

    1998: 1st round–Ole Miss vs. Valparaiso
    *OSM–Bryce Drew from 30 feet for the win. The team pile-on is truly iconic. The play itself was beautifully drawn up, and more beautifully executed. The perfect play at the perfect time, with the perfect result.

    2008: Elite Eight–Kansas vs. Davidson
    *OSM–Mario Chalmers had the true “one shining moment” in that tear’s tournament. But it about didn’t happen because of another shining star, Steph curry. It was his coming out party that year. They are already knocked off a seven, two, and three seed before meeting Kansas in the elite eight. Steph hit a three-pointer inside of a minute to cut the Kansas lead to two. Davidson made a stop on the other end and got the ball back. The Kansas defense on curry in the last 15 seconds was truly incredible, forcing him to pass to a teammate with two seconds left. The teammate missed the shot, and the rest is history. But Steph Curry became a household name during those 2 weeks.

    • March 13, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      Those are great as well. The biggest “omission” (although it’s just a fun list and not a best list) was Bryce Drew. I really should have found room for it. I probably have a grudge against it because i picked an all SEC Final Four that year and neither Ole Miss nor SC got out of the first round. Davidson was O SO CLOSE to being right in the middle of George Mason and VCU as a double digit mid major upsetting the #1 to go to the Final Four. Just wasn’t meant to be.

      • March 13, 2017 at 9:28 pm

        Ha! You do have a grudge against Bryce Drew. I think I remember having that discussion with you on the fwblive site.

        I really wish the ODU/Villanova game had a “OSM,” because that game was so memorable for me. Oh well…

        And I agree with you on George Mason and VCU instead of Davidson. They both won. Still, Curry had one of the single best performances over 4 games in tournament history. I remember wanting Davidson to win so badly. It really was a shame he couldn’t get a shot off. Kudos to Kansas for playing great defense on the last play.

        • March 14, 2017 at 9:17 am

          It’s possible that ODU game has some play or plays you could consider a OSM if you watched it again. Honestly a few of these games above I didn’t remember a single moment but i knew i Wanted to use the game itself (like Duke UNLV 1991) so I went and watched the game on Youtube and noted a play that seemed to be significant in hindsight. Laattner’s opening three wasn’t on the OSM montage or any big moment list in MM history. But it was a huge play, I think, in historical perspective.

    • March 14, 2017 at 10:35 am

      The Bryce Drew shot was incredible. Great moment for sure. I’m glad he is the Vandy coach now. I hope he can bring some of that magic to the Commodores.

      • March 14, 2017 at 10:38 am

        On the short list for best MM buzzer beater/GW shot to me. Top 4 for sure. Maybe higher.

  • March 14, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Curry surely had some OSM’s in the previous games vs. Georgetown and whoever else they beat. I could have used any of them.

  • March 14, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    One Shining Moment.

    This tradition is something of a legacy, and thanks for brining this to our minds. The Pointer family has been fans …and critics (See the Jennifer Hudson travesty as listed by Gowdy) through the years.
    It was great to read Gowdy’s take on the song. But I want to focus on the song, not on the shining moments of action that made the song the institution it is today.

    If you go to iTunes, you can download all of the versions of One Shining Moment, which I actually did for my sister Amy, who is something of a OSM diva. When you do, you will see (and hear) that there are a couple of versions which include a prelude called Golden Street Prelude. It is a nice instrumental written by David Barrett and used by CBS in 1987 (and I contend for a few years after that) that ran as a bumper giving the graphics people time to finish putting together the final touches of OSM for that tournament including the game that had just ended. Go to the 1987 version and you will see how this is done. Subsequent versions did the same thing, but the official archives of the videos have cut this part out. There is then the transition piece (usually of still graphics in a quick montage) and then you have the greatest intro in sports history. And THEN the ball is tipped…

    David Barrett wrote the song and the Golden Street Prelude but his versions by both Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross have eclipsed his version. Wikipedia says that it is believed that this is the last recording that Luther did before the stroke that ultimately led to his death.
    We do not even acknowledge the Jennifer Hudson version. Turner Sports has used a version by Ne-Yo, but it is Luther Vandross’ version that is the most widely accepted. (I continue to be partial to Teddy.)

  • March 14, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    My favorite OSM was not actually a basketball moment, but the fan reaction to a play. I was at last year’s championship game; in the nosebleeds, but still there. Capital One had laid out promotional seat cushions in every seat at the stadium. What you couldn’t see on tv was thousands of these orange seat cushions flying through the air after UNC tied the game. It was incredible and it happened so fast I could not get a picture of it.

    And as Allen mentioned above, being the diva I am, my other OSM was hearing Dave sing it live during halftime of the game last year. Truly a great memory.

  • March 14, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    All this info is awesome. I get chills just reading what you guys have written about this. If you didn’t get to read my Facebook post that introduced this article, I estimate the number of minutes in my life watching OSM at about 50,000. (Just a slight exaggeration) I used to record the championship on VHS in the 90’s just to rewatch OSM over and over again. Youtube is much better.

  • March 16, 2017 at 10:18 am

    29 of the greatest moments in the history of the game.

    • March 16, 2017 at 11:00 am

      Okay, I’ll bite. Which moment above does not belong?

      • March 16, 2017 at 12:45 pm

        I’m going to guess the one where Kentucky lost. Which is greatest of the great…if your team didn’t lose. LOL.

  • March 24, 2017 at 12:15 am

    1983 final Houston and Akeem Olojuwan against Jim Valvano’s Cardiac Kids of NC State. It was a close game and the score seesawed back and forth. Akeem Olojuwan was expected to dominate, but at the last instant, Derek Whittenberry threw up a half court prayer, Olojuwan was nowhere to be seen, so Lorenzo Charles grabbed the ball and slammed it home for the victory. Everyone will remember Valvano running onto the court to hug his players. I remember Olojuwan prone in the lane, sobbing.

    • March 24, 2017 at 8:41 am

      Since it happened before 1987 I didn’t consider it for this article, but this is truly a great March Madness moment. One of the 2 or 3 best ever in my opinion and if pressed maybe the best ever. I remember watching a special about it once and Terry Gannon told the story about how Valvano had convinced the media that State would hold the ball the whole game but then in the locker room told his players differently.

  • March 30, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    1992 UK-Duke: I didn’t watch that game because I had to go to a banquet that night. I wanted UK to win (I hated Duke, and still do), but I didn’t think they would. When I got home and found out what happened, I was stunned and disappointed.

    1993 Duke-Cal: I didn’t know that Dale Brown said that. He ate his words. One of my all-time favorite games. The Kiddie Korps put it on Fluke Duke that night.

    Another game up the 92 UK-Duke alley that you forgot: The 1990 Connecticut-Duke East Final. Tate George dropped a steal, and Fluke Duke won when Flukener hit a BS shot. They didn’t deserve that game, just like they didn’t deserve to beat UK two years later.

    • March 30, 2017 at 10:27 pm

      I’m just spit-balling here, but it sounds like you don’t care for Duke all the much.

    • March 31, 2017 at 6:51 pm

      That Duke UConn game happened right after the UConn Clemson game and it seemed UConn got what went around. But Laettner’s shot was wide open. And it contributed to his legend before the UK shot sealed it.

  • April 4, 2017 at 10:23 am

    I don’t know if Allen Pointer will see this but I listened to several OSM on Youtube yesterday and I can definitely see the Pendergrass version being preferable. LVD has the advantage that we can put highlights together better now than in 1994 so it makes the whole thing feel more excellent. But just based on music it’s close.

  • April 4, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    David P 1995: 1st round–Villanova vs. ODU
    *Growing up in Hampton Roads, Virginia, I really didn’t have any big-name colleges to cheer for that were good at sports. So it was really exciting for ODU to be in the NCAA tournament. There wasn’t any real “one shining moment” during the game, but it went into three overtimes with ODU pulling off the huge upset. My brother and I were going nuts. We were ecstatic.

    I remember that game. That was the year after Nova won the NIT, and they seemed poised to take the next step. Instead, the ODU loss was the first of three straight disappointing first-weekend exits for the Wildcats.


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