From a boundary-breaking NBA sensation to a high-flying Olympian, this year has seen some moments in sports we’ll never forget…
Jeremy Lin Breaks Fool: Back in February, Jeremy Lin, who most NBA fans had never heard of previously, was forced into a major role when the Knicks were devastated by injuries. He made the most of his time dropping 25 points and seven assists off the bench in his first appearance and then went on to lead the Knicks to seven straight wins. The fact that he is Asian-American led to an unbelievable media blitz complete with intentional and unintentional Asian jokes done in poor taste.
Norfolk State Upsets Missouri: In the history of the NCAA Tournament, a 15 seed had only upset a No. 2 seed four times. However on March 16th, Norfolk State – an HBCU from the MEAC Conference – dominated the champion of the powerful Big 12. Norfolk was led by Kyle O’Quinn’s 26 points and 14 rebounds. Lehigh, a small school from Pennsylvania – also a 15 seed – upset second-seeded Duke on the same night.
Brittney Griner Leads Baylor to 40-0: The Baylor women’s basketball team beat Notre Dame, 80-61, in the National Championship game to complete the first ever 40-0 season (by men or women) in NCAA history. Baylor was led by AP player of the year, junior Brittney Griner.
Bountygate!: On March 2nd, the NFL released a report saying that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams ran an illegal bounty pool that rewarded players with cash for knocking opposing players out of the game. The league suspended head coach Sean Payton and banned Williams from the game. The general manger was suspended as well as four players. The players union appealed and Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita were reinstated.
LeBron Finally Gets A Ring: After “The Decision” and a pep rally in Miami during which LeBron James declared that his new team would win (“Not one, not two, not three…”) eight championships, the Heat lost to Dallas in the 2011 Finals. His critics were finally silenced by this 2012 win.
Gabby Douglas Wins Big: During this year's Summer Olympics, Douglas soared into the hearts of people across the world as a member of the US Women's Gymnastics team. The then-15 year old made history as the first African-American to take the gold in the individual competition and the first woman to win gold in both the individual and team competitions.
Sandusky Found Guilty: Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions football team, was convicted on 45 of 48 possible counts of child sex abuse. The convictions came after a wildly-publicized series of accusations against Sandusky, who was convicted in the court of public opinion, long before the trial ever took place.
Howard Goes To LA: The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Dwight Howard in a four-team deal that also sent Andrew Bynum to the Sixers and Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets. Howard had been number one on every team’s wish list after making it clear that he was not returning to the Orlando Magic.
Replacement Refs Enrage Fans, Players: Because of a labor dispute, the NFL used replacement referees for the first part of the season. However, in a nationally televised game during the third week of the season, the game was decided on a play that was ruled a touchdown even though the play was clearly proven otherwise in replays (and to pretty much everyone watching in real time.) The fact that the outcome of a game was so obviously affected by bad officiating forced the NFL to come to an agreement with the referees in time for Week Four’s games.
NFL Deaths Make Headlines: Despite commissioner Roger Goodell’s determination to clean up the NFL’s off-field image, there have been more arrests of their players after he instituted tough penalties for bad behavior. On December 1st, Kansas City Linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and then went to Arrowhead Stadium and killed himself in front of the Chiefs’ head coach Romeo Crennel. Seven days later, Cowboys defensive end Jerry Brown died in a car crash. The driver was teammate Josh Brent who was charged with intoxicated manslaughter.