NBA’s not alone: Plenty of sports events have ended in funky ways
Wednesday night’s game between the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves in Mexico City was postponed after a generator malfunction caused the arena to fill up with smoke.
Where does this debacle rank among some of the other famous stoppages throughout professional sports? After all, over the years, we’ve seen blackouts in the Super Bowl and the Stanley Cup, rainouts at indoor arenas, games called because of bugs and more.
Here’s a look at some of the strangest delays, postponements and cancellations in sports lore:
2013 SUPER BOWL BLACKOUT:
You don’t have to go back too far to find a peculiar interruption, and this happened to come on the biggest sports night of the year. During the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII, half of the Superdome lights went out, causing a 33-minute delay in play during the game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
There was a thought that the blackout could have been tied to Beyonce’s halftime show, but it was later revealed that the outage was caused by a device intended to prevent the situation it caused. The Ravens went on to win the game 34-31, but to this day, some Baltimore players believe the blackout was a Roger Goodell-led plot to end their momentum.
2011 MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL BLACKOUT:
Really, the Super Bowl blackout couldn’t have happened to a more prepared team. The 49ers already knew a thing or two about blackouts after experiencing two in the same game during a Monday Night Football matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011.
The first came before the game, with a transformer explosion delaying kickoff at Candlestick Park by 20 minutes. Then the backup power supply failed during the second quarter, bringing play to a halt for another 15 minutes.
1994 ALAMODOME WATER DELAY:
If you think that the Spurs’ game in Mexico City being postponed by smoke is the strangest delay the franchise has ever endured, think again. Tip-off of the team’s 1994-95 season opener at the Alamodome was postponed nearly an hour after a water cannon triggered by pregame fireworks soaked players, coaches and fans in the building.
SONICS, ASTROS "RAINED OUT" INDOORS:
At least the Spurs got to play their game in 1994 once the court got cleared up. Other franchises have not been so lucky and have managed to have indoor games "rained out."
One of the most infamous cases happened in June 1976, when a game at the Astrodome between the Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates was was postponed because of rain — but the building was totally fine. The problem, in that case, was that the umpires and the majority of the stadium staff couldn’t get to the Astrodome because of flooding in the area.
In January 1986, officials allowed a game between the Seattle Sonics and Phoenix Suns to begin despite a leak in the Coliseum roof. The leak had been identified the day before, but a makeshift tarp had been blown away by a rainstorm, and play was halted with 10:48 left in the second quarter after players began slipping on the floor.
After an initial 55-minute delay, the game was called off, making it the first game in NBA history to be postponed in progress.
2010 METRODOME ROOF COLLAPSE:
Rained out? Try snowed out. A Dec. 12 game between the Giants and Vikings had already been pushed back to Dec. 13 by bad weather in the Minneapolis area, but this pretty much guaranteed that they wouldn’t be playing it as scheduled:
The game was eventually played in Detroit.
1988 LIGHTS OUT AT THE GARDEN:
When the Super Bowl went dark last year it reminded many of the blackout at the Boston Garden during Game 4 of the 1988 Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers had just tied the game at 3-3 late in the second period when …
The power was out for only about a half-hour, but in that time the 14,451 fans in attendance had been evacuated from the building. "They say that when the red light went on for that goal, it took the last bit of energy that old building had," Wayne Gretzky told The New York Times at the time.
Eventually, officials decided to wipe the entire game from the record books and determined it would be replayed at the end of the series if necessary. This meant that Game 4 effectively became Game 7 and Boston, which was already trailing 3-0, had to go on the road for "Game 5" in Edmonton. The Oilers won "Game 5" to complete a 4-0 sweep of the Bruins.
OTHER HALTED HOCKEY GAMES:
The ’88 Stanley Cup game may be the most poorly timed delay of an NHL game, but it’s certainly not the weirdest.
In 1999, the start of a game between the San Jose Sharks and the Detroit Red Wings was delayed 12 minutes after the Sharks mascot got stuck trying to rappel from the rafters. Then in 2008, the beginning of a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Sharks was delayed 25 minutes after a malfunctioning Zamboni sprung a hydraulic fluid leak, making it appear as though someone had been run over by the machine:
The scariest postponement probably came in 1996, however, when a game between the Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres was postponed after the Sabres’ new $4 million scoreboard came crashing down to the ice. Fortunately, the incident occurred at 2 p.m., after players had completed their morning skate but well before game time.
DELAYS ON THE DIAMOND:
Baseball is no stranger to delays and postponements, but occasionally you’ll see one that’s not a typical weather delay.
Over the years, bees have become a regular source of delays in baseball games, but in 1972, a swarm of grasshoppers led to the cancellation of a minor league game between the Midland Cubs and Amarillo Giants. "You could hear the ball hitting grasshoppers as the pitch came in," Pete LaCock told the Reporter-Telegram (via SI). "There were marks from dead grasshoppers all over the ball. If you hit a pop foul, grasshoppers would fall out of the sky."
Other weird delays include a brief one after Randy Johnson made a bird explode during a spring training game in 2001:
Rodney McCray running through a fence:
And then, naturally, there are always manager meltdowns slowing things down. You can pick your favorite, but one of the most epic tirades in most fans’ minds is the self-destruction of Mississippi Braves manager Phillip Wellman in 2007:
But of course, the most famous baseball cancellation of all came in 1979, when Bill Veeck’s poorly conceived "Disco Demolition Night" led to a bona fide mess at Comiskey Park and forced the Chicago White Sox to forfeit the second game of a double-header against the Detroit Tigers:
2010 POTHOLE PIT STOP:
Like baseball, the NASCAR circuit is no stranger to delays in competition, but at the 2010 Daytona 500, racers were stopped twice because of potholes on the track.
The first delay, at lap 122 of the race, caused a stoppage of one hour and 41 minutes, and the second — after the same repaired pothole opened back up — put the race on hold for another 45 minutes. Eventually, crews got the problem under control, and Jamie McMurray took the checkered flag more than six hours after the race began.