Sports are a funny thing.
Regardless of the level at which they are performed, sports, no matter how cliche the saying has become, are truly a microcosm of life.
On one hand, sports are not beholden to concepts like “belief” and “destiny.” There are endless examples. One of my personal favorites is the 1968 World Series — the one where the 1967 World Series champions St. Louis Cardinals built a 3-1 series lead over the Detroit Tigers and lost it.
Detroit dominated the rest of the series, outscoring St. Louis 22-2, and a no-name kid — Mickey Lolich — won Game 7 for the Tigers pitching on two days of rest.
If the NBA is more your thing, we could reminisce about the 2016 NBA Finals when the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 series lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers, which cost them the championship.
But that is too easy.
Instead, go back to 1995 and Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal between the Indiana Pacers and the New York Knicks. You remember this one. This was the game where all the Knicks had to do was play sub-par defense. They led the Pacers 105-99 with just 18 seconds left.
What happened? Reggie Miller happened.
Miller scored eight points in nine seconds. He sank a 3-pointer on Indy’s first possession. Then Miller stole the Knicks’ inbounds pass and drilled the 3 that tied the game at 105. Then he won the game for the Pacers on a pair of free throws.
Are you laughing yet?
Don’t worry Generation Z’ers, if the Wi-Fi is taking too long (and you have not been able to Google verify that) sports did in fact exist in both 1968 and 1995, I’m getting to you now.
If you thought sports could not rip your heart out, you were clearly not paying attention in 2016.
We could go over the Cavs-Warriors series again, it is a blunder of epic proportions. However, there are other forgotten gems.
But I think those boys on the Northern Iowa basketball team are still in therapy sessions after falling to Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament. The one where the Panthers had a shocking 69-57 lead over the Aggies with just 44 seconds left. The adjustment to a full-court press defense allowed A&M to win in double overtime.
A personal favorite, though, is the 2016 Masters.
On the final day, through nine holes, Jordan Spieth had a five-shot lead. In the sport of golf, you could call that an “insurmountable” lead.
But, in just 30 minutes, the 22-year-old went from up five to down three after Danny Willet shot 67 and won the green jacket over Spieth.
By now sports have ceased to be funny, right?
Thank goodness for two hands. On the one hand, sports can crumble your spirit and destiny into dust, but, on the other hand, they can bring out the best.
Look no further than Federal Way’s Hyeon-Sik “Richard” Jeong.
Whether you are a Millennial or Generation Z, Hyeon-Sik “Richard” Jeong is not a name you are going to recognize. You will not find it in any professional or semi-professional record book.
However, you will find it in the Covington Druids Glen Golf Course record books. And, to Jeong’s family and friends, his name carries the same lore as James, Brady and Rizzo’s.
In 2007, while playing with family and friends from church, Hyeon-Sik “Richard” Jeong sank his first-ever hole-in-one at the age of 43.
Jeong continued racking up successes and failures on the links for the next 10 years. On July 26, 2017, on the 461-yard, Par 5 second hole at Druids Glen, Jeong saw golf success strike a second time.
On his second shot, Jeong pulled out his 7-iron and faded a one-bounce shot into the cup to secure an eagle.
“That is rare even among the best golfers in the world,” Jisoo Jeong, his son, said in an email. “Never in his dreams did Hyeon-Sik imagine to see a double eagle before his own eyes.”
Sports show us dreams can be shattered in seconds.
But sports enthusiasts like Hyeon-Sik “Richard” Jeong, who stick with it for the sake of fun as opposed to an egregious salary, show how they bring out the best in people.
Jerod Young is the Mirror’s sports reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.