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The George W. Bush Era: A Memorable Eight Years of Sports

Michael CastilloContributor IJanuary 20, 2009

Since George W. Bush (above) became the United States' 43rd President on Jan. 20, 2001, the world of sports has gone through an era of the unexpected.

From Barry Bonds' 73 home runs, to Kobe Bryant's 81 points, to Boise State's miracle Fiesta Bowl win, superstars and unsung heroes have accomplished the unthinkable.

The men who became superstars:

  • Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Rafael Nadal, Tennis
  • Roger Federer, Tennis
  • Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR
  • David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
  • LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers
  • Tom Brady, New England Patriots (above)
  • LeBron James, Cleveland Cavs
  • Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United
  • Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
  • Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

The numbers that awed:

  • Barry Bonds' 73 home runs in a season
  • Ichiro's 262 hits in a season
  • Kobe Bryant's 81 points in a game (above)
  • Adrian Peterson's 296 rushing yards in a game

The controversial moments:

  • Floyd Landis stripped of 2006 Tour de France win
  • Zidane's shocking headbutt in the 2006 World Cup (above)
  • Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmiero, Barry Bonds involved in steroid scandal
  • Oregon in '01, USC in '03, Utah and Auburn in '04, and Utah in '07 all left to wonder about BCS

The heroes we lost:

  • Dale Earnhardt (2001)
  • Ted Williams (2002) (above)
  • Johnny Unitas (2002)
  • Ronald Reagan (2004)
  • Reggie White (2004)
  • Pat Tillman (2004)
  • George Mikan (2005)
  • Kirby Puckett (2006)
  • Gerald Ford (2006)
  • Barbaro (2007)
  • Eddie Robinson (2007)
  • Sean Taylor (2007)

The epic games we watched:

  • 2001 World Series
  • 2006 Rose Bowl
  • 2006 Stanley Cup Finals
  • 2007 Fiesta Bowl
  • Super Bowl XLII
  • 2008 Final Four
  • 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines (above)
  • 2008 Wimbledon Final

The miracles that happened:

  • Red Sox win not one, but two World Series titles
  • George Mason reaches the 2006 Final Four
  • Boise State beats Oklahoma (above)
  • Appalachian State beats Michigan
  • 40-point underdog Stanford beats No. 1 USC
  • Tampa Bay Rays win the American League
  • Arizona Cardinals reach the Super Bowl

The greatest teams we ever saw, even though some didn't even win:

  • 2001 Seattle Mariners...116 wins
  • 2001 Miami Hurricanes Football...undefeated with the best defense
  • 2002 Detroit Red Wings...a team of superstars
  • 2002 Brazil World Cup Winners...most beautiful team ever to play
  • 2003-2004 Arsenal FC...the "Invincibles"
  • 2005 USC Trojans Football...greatest offense ever assembled
  • 2006-2007 Florida Gators Basketball...a team of champions
  • 2007 New England Patriots...glitz, glamour, and lots of points

All in all, beside the wars and economic trouble we may have endured, the sports during Bush's reign has been remarkable.

Photo: MASN, CNN-Sports Illustrated, LA Times, Aquarium Drunkard, USA Today, B-Ball City

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