Leap Day 2024: Kobe Bryant, Wayne Gretzky Star in Feb 29’s Biggest Sports Moments

Leap Day has hosted significant sports moments, including milestones by NHL legends Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, and Ray Bourque, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers’ notable win, Hank Aaron’s historic contract, Richard Petty’s NASCAR victory, and other memorable events across various sports.

Leap Day is a fun quirk in the calendar that happens every four years. It’s not just another day, especially in the sports world where some notable moments have occurred on Feb. 29.

For whatever reason, NHL legends seem to have a thing for Leap Day. Think Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, and Ray Bourque. These guys didn’t just play; they made history on this day.

On the basketball court, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal faced off with Scottie Pippen’s Trail Blazers in 2000. That same day, the Ole Miss women’s basketball team made headlines back in ’92.

Other sports legends like Hank Aaron and Richard Petty also left their mark on Leap Day. So, let’s dive into these moments that have enriched sports history.

Back in February 1972, Hank Aaron signed a groundbreaking $200,000 contract with the Atlanta Braves. Before this, he was making $125,000 and had already hit 639 home runs. Post-signing, Aaron smashed 74 home runs over two seasons before being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. Fast forward, and we see Shohei Ohtani signing a $700 million contract with the Dodgers. Times have indeed changed.

On Leap Day 1976, Richard Petty clinched his 178th career win at the Carolina 500. He was 38 and showed no signs of slowing down, leading for most of the race. Petty finished his career with a record 200 victories, a number that still stands tall.

In 1980, Gordie Howe scored his 800th NHL goal, a milestone he reached at the ripe age of 51. This moment was even sweeter as he shared it with his son, Mark, who was on his team. Howe’s record stood for 14 years until Wayne Gretzky surpassed it.

1988 saw the Nets hiring Willis Reed as their head coach, a move that didn’t turn the team’s fortunes around but certainly added a notable chapter to their history. Reed, a Hall of Famer, had his share of challenges but left with his head held high.

The Ole Miss women’s basketball team clinched their first SEC title on Leap Day in 1992. They didn’t stop there, making a significant run in the NCAA Tournament that year.

That same day, Ray Bourque hit 1,000 career points, a rare feat for an NHL defenseman. Bourque’s record for most points by a defenseman still stands, a testament to his incredible skill and longevity.

In 1996, Wayne Gretzky scored in his debut game for the St. Louis Blues. His arrival was a big deal, and he didn’t disappoint, marking the beginning of a memorable stint with the team.

The Lakers and Trail Blazers faced off in 2000, both on 11-game winning streaks. It was a nail-biter, but the Lakers emerged victorious, thanks to O’Neal and Bryant’s combined 45 points. This win was a stepping stone to their NBA championship that year.

And here’s a quirky story: The Panthers tried to draft Alex Ovechkin in 2003, arguing that Leap Days made him eligible. The NHL didn’t buy it, but it’s a fun anecdote about the lengths teams will go to snag a top player.

So, Leap Day isn’t just another date on the calendar. It’s a day where legends have been made, records broken, and the impossible has been argued. Here’s to the quirky, the memorable, and the downright fascinating moments it has brought to the sports world.

Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson is a Senior Writer for HockeyMonitor. With a background in Sports Media, Alex joined the team in 2022. He focuses on providing the latest hockey news, game scores, and fresh NHL trade rumors.

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