Today in Sports History: May 26th

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(Griffey runs into the wall. Photo by Gary Stewart, AP Photos)

5/26/1987 - Bird steal beats Pistons

First it was John Havlicek. Then it was Gerald Henderson. Now it was Larry Bird's turn to make a famous steal, and his was bigger than both of theirs.

With 17 seconds left in regulation, the Detroit Pistons held a minuscule 107-106 lead with the series tied 2-2. Isiah Thomas, who shot badly all game long, had just a mid-range jump shot to give the Pistons the advantage. If Detroit could steal a win at the Boston Garden -- with Game 6 of the conference finals to be played at the Silverdome -- they were looking at a first class ticket to the NBA Finals.

With less than ten seconds left, Larry Bird had the ball on the wing with Rick Mahorn defending him. Bird beat Mahorn off the dribble and attempted a highly-contest floater over three Pistons defenders. His shot was blocked by Dennis Rodman, and Celtics reserve Jerry Sichting -- who was in for the injured Robert Parish -- tried to save it but could not.

Detroit had the ball with a one-point lead and five seconds on the clock. Immediately after the ball landed out of bounds, Isiah Thomas rushed to the sideline to inbound the ball -- thinking that he could catch the Celtics off-guard, give it to a teammate, and run out the clock. It was the biggest mistake of his career. Thomas threw it in to Bill Laimbeer, who was standing near the Celtics' bucket. But as he had no idea that Larry Bird was in the proximity. Bird slapped the ball away, got a hold of it near the sideline, and dished it to a streaking Dennis Johnson, who layed it in over Joe Dumars to give Boston a 108-107 lead with one second left.

"Larry kind of suckered Isiah into making the pass," said Sichting. "He was guarding Joe Dumars on the other side of the lane. As soon as Isiah got the ball, he started moving and Isiah didn't see him."

"As soon as I got it I was going to shoot," said Bird, who finished with 36 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. "I was counting four seconds in my head and then I turned around and saw D.J. cutting down the lane."

The Pistons didn't even get a shot off on their final possession, awarding the Celtics a win that team president Red Auerbach called "miraculous." The Pistons and Celtics split the remaining two games, with the Celtics coming away with a narrow three-point win in Game 7. The Pistons would get their revenge by advancing to the finals the following three seasons.

5/26/1995 - Griffey sacrifices wrist for catch

In the seventh inning of a game versus the Orioles, Ken Griffey Jr. makes the most memorable catch of his big-league career. Kevin Bass slammed a pitch to deep center field, forcing Griffey to bolt at break-neck speed to catch up to it. With the ball set to hit the wall, 380 feet away, Griffey lept into the air and caught it, just seconds before he crashed into the wall.

Griffey tried to brace the impact with his left wrist, which was a bad move. Griffey came down with the ball, but the collision fractured his left wrist and kept him off the field for 73 games. Griffey came back in August and finished what was one of the worst seasons of his career (pre-Cincinnati era). He finished with just 17 home runs, 42 RBI, and a .258 batting average in just 72 games. He did however play fantastic when it truly counted: against the Yankees in the first round of the postseason.

The catch, also notable for being one of the first of a long line of injuries for Griffey, helped win him the Gold Glove, even though he missed half the season. Griffey won a Gold Glove in ten consecutive years, from 1990 to 1999.

5/26/2002 - Horry's three beats the Kings

A game-winning three by Robert Horry gives the Lakers a win in their series with the Kings. Not only did the shot save the Lakers' season, it provided viewers with one of the greatest finishes of any game ever.

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

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