The Biggest Sports Story of the Year?
Yes, it may have been Brett Favre and his journey from prodigal son of the Packers to leading Gang Green. Along the way was a stunning upset and an end to perfection, Tiger being Tiger on one leg, a big letdown from Big Brown, more madness than usual in March, and the return to glory for some storied franchises. Throw in the Summer Olympics and you had possibly the best year in sports ever. I don't want to compare other years, as I know we are very much in the moment and what has happened lately more so than having a fond memory for past decades of sports.
More on this later, but here is my Year in Review for Sports in 2008
The New York Giants were able to overcome tremendous odds, three playoff games on the road, and the vaunted offense of the New England Patriots to be able to hand the Pats their first loss of the season as well as send Michael Strahan off into retirement with the championship that eluded him for so long. Within 60 minutes of game time, Eli became the better Manning for some and proved that Tom Coughlin was indeed a great coach. And for New England, the misery was just beginning for the calendar year of 2008....
We were at home, watching the US Open, and simply expecting Tiger to close strong again and take home another Major Championship. All of a sudden, you had the everyday guy in Rocco challenging him to be king of the links for at least a weekend. By the time Monday's epic, 18-hole playoff teed off, you found yourself cheering for Rocco, didn't you? We all did, and why not? He had his feet on the ground enough to know that he was fortunate to be golfing for a job and he knew enough to have fun with it and treasure each moment. Even the most ardent Woods' fans were able to take something from that and later we would find out just how tough Tiger's resolve to win was: essentially walking on one leg, defying his doctor's orders, and taking another step towards catching the Golden Bear's mark for Major Championships.
After capturing the nation's attention with a bid to become the first Triple Crown winner in three decades, Big Brown raced out of the news after having to pull up early, and finishing last in the Belmont Stakes with a cracked hoof.
A bid for the Triple Crown seems to be the only way to keep non-racing fans interested in the sport; well, that and steroids....
As Mario Chalmers cooly hit the long ball to pull his Jayhawks even with the Memphis Tigers, everyone seemed to know the impending news.... Memphis had just blown a national championship with poor decisions and atrocious foul shooting down the stretch. The free throw line had always been deemed the Achilles' heel of the young squad from Memphis, and it finally caught up to them in the last game of the season. Coach Calipari returns with a solid team in 2008-2009, but this may have been his best chance to win it all as he had future overall #1 pick Derrick Rose leading the way.
With one magical trip through March and numerous jaw-dropping performances, Stephen Curry turned himself from quality player at a smaller school into instant NBA lottery pick when he decides to declare. Curry led Davidson to within a made shot of a trip to the Championship and made father Dell a proud papa. And yes, that's the same sharp-shooting Dell Curry that was able to endure a long, fruitful career in the League.
The NBA was in the headlines; this time it wasn't for Tim Donaghy and gambling allegations. The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers renewed their heated rivalry as Boston presented a new triumvirate against arguably the world's best and most recognized player, Kobe Bryant. In the end, Finals MVP and team captain Paul Pierce was too much 'truth' for the Zen Master and the Lake Show to handle and the Celtics were able to raise banner #17 to the famed rafters. The seventeen championships are the most of any NBA franchise, and Boston looks like they are off to a great start to #18 with a 26-2 record just days before a finals rematch on Christmas Day.
In a flash, Usain Bolt ran into Olympic history as he became the first man to capture the 100m and 200m gold medals in the same Olympics, and did so in World Record fashion for both races. If it weren't for American swimmer Michael Phelps and his amazing story, Bolt surely would have been the sports story of Beijing.
Michael Phelps captured the attention of at least a nation and possibly the world as he succeeded in his quest for a record 8 gold medals in one Olympics. Phelps not only broke the record, but did so in remarkable fashion as he needed help from teammates, as well as relying on his own skill to sweep all eight races entered.
After waiting a long and painful few decades, Philadelphia fans were finally able to rejoice as their Phillies were able to stymie the red-hot Dodgers, and vanquish the story of the year in the Rays on their way to a World Series win. Pitcher Cole Hammels was nearly unstoppable—and Philly even got a hand from the oldest veteran still pitching Jamie Moyer—in bringing the city the first professional sports title since the early 80's.