In 2008, the sports world seemed to have a little bit of everything. There was the New England Patriots' Run to Perfection, only to lose in the final game to the underdog New York Giants. The NBA Finals had the return of two great dynasties. UFC became mainstream. The Kansas Jayhawks won an NCAA thriller in basketball. Big Brown became the sixth horse in 10 years to win the first two legs of the triple crown, only to fall short on the longer track. Seattle lost a longtime friend to Oklahoma City, and Cinderella's slipper looked like a baseball cleat, as the Tampa Bay Rays made history.
All those stories...but what was the No. 1 sports moment of 2008?
Although it has been around for a while, MMA finally hit the mainstream in 2008. For the first time ever, a major US network put on a mixed martial arts broadcast. Although Kimbo Slice (and the event itself) was a farce for CBS, you can't deny what the sport has done.
The UFC continues to grow, selling out stadiums everywhere it goes. As it grows, one must wonder if UFC/MMA will be the death of boxing as we know it.
On January 1 of 2008, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres, took their usual game on ice, outdoors, for the NHL Winter Classin, which was held at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home to the Buffalo Bill of the NFL.
The game was played at a temporary ice rink built on the football field. The contest set an NHL attendance record of 71,217. Penguins won the game, 2-1 in a shootout. thanks to captain Sidney "The Kid" Crosby.
On Sept. 9, 2007, Kevin Everett suffered a devastating injury—a fractured/dislocated cervical spine. For days, sports fans watched as they got updates on his condition. Doctors were hopeful, at best. But Everett proved everyone wrong. On July 20, Everett was awarded the "Jimmy V Award for Perseverance" on the 2008 ESPY award ceremonies.
Also, in a true class act, the Buffalo Bills did not immediately waive Everett—keeping him on the active roster to finish the season, thus fulfilling the three full NFL years requirement to be eligible for a full NFL pension.
Let's face it: The sport of tennis needed this.
Federer was going for a record sixth Wimbledon win, and Nadal was looking for his first.
Tennis's grand stage. Young lion against old lion. The master versus the student. Typical London weather, and it took over five hours to decide the winner.
Talk about a perfect match
"Oh yeah, well, my dad can beat your dad...on one leg".
It's rare that you see a man play in any kind of sporting event on one leg. It is even rarer that you see a man on one leg perform well in a sporting event. But what about a one-legged man beating 156 of the world's best golfers?
Well, Tiger Woods did that in June of 2008, but really, is Tiger a man...or a machine? Woods won the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines. On a knee that was not fully recovered from his recent surgery, Woods hobbled around 91 holes, walking the equivalent of 21.5 miles. He also took hundreds of swings with club head speeds of up to 130 miles per hour, putting tremendous strain on his injured left knee.
Talk about a machine!
On April 7, 2008, in one of the most memorable NCAA National Championship games ever, the Kansas Jayhawks defeated the Memphis Tigers 75-68 in overtime to become the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament Champions. Mario Chalmers made a three-point shot with 2.1 seconds left in regulation, bringing Kansas back from a 60-51 deficit with two minutes remaining.
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez make more money then the entire Tampa Bay baseball team. Yet they didn't make the playoffs.
Playing in what is considered the best league in baseball, the Rays took the Yankees' spot and held on in a seven-game series against the Red Sox, who have amongst the highest payrolls in the league.
The Rays managed to win the American League and advanced to their first World Series despite having the second-lowest payroll in the league—at $43.7 million.
You have to admit, for a while this summer, no matter how much you don't like him, the Brett Favre "will he or will he not" saga made for must-see TV.
There were retirements, phone calls, text messages, possible un-retirements, camp sightings, more text messages, an official un-retirement, team releases, and new team signings. New Packer QB Aaron Rogers finally got out of the shadows of Favre, but Green Bay will miss the playoffs (talk about big shoes to fill), while Favre has his new team, the New York Jets, in playoff contention.
Favre may look a little erratic out there, but he brings in money. His postseason experience is also a must-have now that we are in the home stretch of the regular season.
It seemed like old times. A glorious '80s flashback. The days of Bird, McHale, Johnson, Kareem...
It may not have been quite like old times, but it was neat to see green/white go up against purple/yellow. Boston went out in the offseason and tried to buy a world championship...and that's what they did.
No doubt the 2008 Beijing Olympics were the biggest story of the year, but it was a story within the story that had everyone talking. American simmer Michale Phelps captivated the world's attention by winning a record eight gold medals. Within hours after winning gold, Phelps became a national icon.