On yesterday’s date in 2002, the Michael Jordan of television series made its debut on premium cable. It didn’t have near the hype of Bobby Knight calling it the best basketball player of all time. In fact most people didn’t even watch it until years after the final episode aired. But The Wire would be a television series like no one had ever seen.
Sure the protagonist was the common white male anti-hero of the 2000s. Detective James McNulty wasn’t an organized crime boss like Tony Soprano dealing with depression, but “natural police,” who was tired of a dysfunctional department in Baltimore and wanted to really make a dent in the city’s crime problem. He also had no idea the definition of the words fidelity, sobriety, procedure, or even loyalty. However, the show would end up not being about him. McNulty lured you into an American city and system in which the power class was so dedicated to career ascension, the citizens were merely steps to the top.
It’s widely regarded as one of the greatest television shows of all time, though while on the air it peaked at only 4 million viewers before cord cutting, and during the HBO glory days of The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and Entourage. With the series being set in Baltimore, sports had to be part of the show. The series used them not to just give the show more of a local feel, but to also help with the story telling.
So to pay tribute to the best television series of all time — argue with your pomeranian — on the 20-year anniversary of its premiere, here are the five greatest sports scenes in the history of the show