Today in Sports History: February 1st

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2/01/1995 - Stockton passes Magic

With career assist No. 9,922, John Stockton of the Utah Jazz surpasses Magic Johnson to become the all-time assist leader. Appropriately, Stockton's record-breaking assist came on a field goal from Karl Malone, who had been Stockton's primary recipient his entire career. Afterward, Stockton got a congratulatory message from Magic Johnson, which was played on the stadium Jumbotron. "John, from one assist man to another, you are the greatest team leader I have ever played against," Magic told him.

Stockton, who had led the league in assists the previous seven seasons, had accomplished Johnson's total in 860 career games; it had taken Magic 874 games over a higher number of seasons to get there. And although Magic came out of retirement in 1996 and slightly raised his career total, no one could catch John Stockton, who steadily produced about 10 assists per game the rest of his career. Stockton finally retired in 2003 with 15,806 career assists -- more than 5,000 above the next closet total. He also finished with more steals than any other player in history.

Overall it was a pretty good night for the Utah Jazz, who steamrolled the Denver Nuggets, 129-88, to extend their winning streak to 14 straight games. Two nights later, Utah went to Houston hoping to win their 16th consecutive road game and tie the record set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. The Rockets promptly defeated Utah, 121-101, and ended the streak once for all. The Rockets later beat them in the first round of the playoffs.

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(Adam Vinatieri drills his second career Super Bowl-winning field goal)

2/01/2004 - Vinatieri field goal beats Panthers

With the score tied at 29, Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri lined up for the game-winning field goal. His New England Patriots were sizable favorites over the Carolina Panthers, who just two years earlier had gone 1-15. But with big performances from QB Jake Delhomme and receiver Muhsin Muhammad, the Panthers had been in the game from the get-go.

With four seconds left on the clock, Vinatieri drilled a 41-yard goal which proved to be the game-winner. Vinatieri had hit the game-winning field goal in the Pats previous Super Bowl in 2002 -- hitting a second one assured himself as one of the greatest kickers of all time.

With the win, the Patriots claimed their second Super Bowl in three years. Tom Brady, who led the Patriots down field in one of the many game-winning drives of his career, was named the game's MVP. John Fox and the Panthers were commended for their competitive play, particularly by scoring two touchdowns in their final two posessions (not-including the failed las-second punt return). However on two occasions, Fox elected to go for two instead of kicking the extra point, and in both scenarios, the Panthers failed the conversion attempt. Although the Patriots 3-point win would've nullified the two extra points, who knows how the game would've played out had the Panthers just gone for the extra point.

Many considered the game one of the best Super Bowls ever played. Considering that it took almost 27 minutes for either team to score, and that the third quarter was scoreless, this was pretty remarkable. But with a Super Bowl record 37 points being scored in the 4th quarter, the weak beginning was more than forgiveable.

2/01/2004 - Timberlake exposes Jackson's nipple

As great a game as Super Bowl XXXVIII was, it got an iota of coverage when compared to the Super Bowl Halftime Show. A so-called "wardrobe malfunction" featured a split-second of nudity to one of the largest television audiences of all time. Needless to say, people were pretty peeved. Ironically, one of the men involved in the ceremonial coin flip was football legend Y.A. Tittle.

Also occurring in Super Bowl XXXVIII was the first ever interruption of a streaker. British fan Mark Roberts, who was sort of the rainbow man of streaking, walked onto the field disguised as a referee as the second half was about to begin. Roberts then stripped down to a thong and ran across the field. His naked run ended when he was forcibly removed by security; his cameo was not shown on CBS, though announcer Greg Gumbel mused that the second half would feature "raw, naked football."

That, mixed in with Jackson's nipple and television ads about erectile dysfunction and flatulence, had many people offended with the coverage.

To read more about this story, click here for an in-depth Inhistoric article:

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(Nene guarding Pau Gasol. Photo by Garrett Ellwood, Getty Images)

2/01/2008 - Lakers acquire Pau Gasol

The Los Angeles Lakers pull off one of the most lopsided deals in history, acquiring All-Star forward Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, two first round draft picks and the rights to Pau's younger brother, Marc. Crittenton and McKie had been non-factors for the Lakers, as was Marc Gasol, who hadn't yet played a minute in the NBA; the first round picks they vacated were guaranteed to be in the late twenties, and the only player in their rotation that they gave up, Kwame Brown, wasn't nearly the player Pau Gasol was. The Lakers gave up so little to get the Spanish-born superstar that even Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley eventually admitted the deal was a poor one.

"I don’t know if I got the most value," Heisley told Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski a year later. "Maybe our people should’ve shopped (Gasol) more and maybe we would’ve gotten more, done a better deal. Maybe (general manager Chris Wallace) did call every team in the league. I don’t think he did, but maybe he should’ve…"

"I feel truly blessed with everything that has happened and what I am a part of right now," Gasol told reporters four days later. "I spent seven years in Memphis and I learned a lot. It made me grow and mature as a player and a person. Now I am in a situation where I am very privileged and I couldn't ask for anything better."

In 2009, Gasol helped the Lakers win an NBA championship, their first since Shaquille O'Neal was traded.

Further reading:

Stockton is Unrecognized, Unassuming, Unmatched [New York Times]

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