With 2008 coming to a close I’d like to look back on some of the moments in sports and wrestling that really captured my attention and had a lot of significance. Let’s begin with the Super Bowl and the upset of the century. The Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season and made it to the Super Bowl against the underdog New York Giants who no one really gave a chance to win. The Giants, led by Eli Manning won the Super Bowl and rightfully became the best team in football.
A few months later at Wrestlemania 24, the greatest pro wrestler in the history of wrestling retired following his last match with Shawn Michaels. Ric Flair was in pro wrestling for thirty plus years and was the very best. He is a 16 time World Champion and had more class then anyone I ever saw in the Wrestling business. He is definitely a Legend and an Icon. He will always be remembered as the greatest that ever lived.
At the NBA All-Star game this year, we saw Dwight Howard become superman in the Slam-Dunk Contest and put on a performance of a lifetime. I think he might be the biggest guy to ever win the Dunk Contest. It was a great year for him. It was also a great year for Celtics and Lakers fans that got to witness the rebirth of the greatest rivalry in basketball history. The Celtics won the NBA Finals beating the Lakers 4-2, but the sparks re-ignited the fire in both teams.
The thing that really captured my attention was the Summer Olympics. Michael Phelps won eight Gold Medals and became the worlds, or at least America’s greatest athlete. He put swimming on the map for younger kids to get into and made swimming a very respectable sport. Also in the Olympics, the USA Men’s Basketball team brought dominance back into the Olympics and redeemed themselves and the NBA. I’ve always said that Coach K, of Duke should be an NBA coach. He managed all those egos and turned them into a TEAM. He turned them into A TEAM of Superstars instead of one superstar getting the glory. I was proud to watch them bring home the gold for the USA.
Now my personal favorite thing in sports was Brock Lesnar coming to the UFC. There was so much hype, anticipation and hatred because he was a former WWE Wrestler and champion there. What most people don’t know is he was an amateur wrestler for 18 years compared to the four years he was pro. He came in and lost Frank Mir on a fluke. He came back a few months later and dominated Heath Herring. Then in November he defeated Randy Couture to become UFC Heavyweight Champion. The fans of the UFC have never become more vocal or outraged. Brock is hated but it makes for good TV. I am glad he is in the UFC, and I am glad he’s bringing something that no one else brings.
In 2008, there were also some miraculous things that happened in sports. The first thing that comes to mind is Tiger Woods winning the US Open on one bad knee and going head to head in an 18 hole playoff with Rocco Mediate. I never got excited about Golf until that very moment. They had a classic battle that will stand the test of time. I really hope Tiger comes back he will bring us more moments like that and have more classic battles with Rocco and others.
The City of Philadelphia got a miracle this fall when the Phillies won the World Series by beat the Tampa Bay Rays. Yes I said it the Tampa Bay Rays had a miracle year two. They had 10 losing seasons from the time they became a franchise. This year they had their first winning season, made their first playoff and made it all the way to the World Series. It was great to see two small market teams make knock off all the big market teams like Los Angeles, New York and Boston.
Some not so great stuff happened in 2008, like Raiders owner Al Davis’s personal attack on Lane Kiffin after he fired him. Also Roger Clemens was also proven to be a cheat and liar and ruined his chances of becoming a Hall of Famer. Also the Detroit Lions put themselves in position to be in 0-16 in one season. We’ll find out this Sunday if it happens. Also, something that I hated was when Floyd Mayweather fought the Big Show at Wrestlemania 24 and it was the biggest joke pro wrestling fans had ever seen. Also Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg at a night club and may have jeopardized his career with Giants.
Some things that personally made me happy, was the Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup and once reclaiming their dominance in the NHL. I don’t follow hockey much but when the Red Wings play I watch. I was extremely happy to see Forrest Griffin become UFC Light Heavyweight Championship from Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Forrest became a favorite of mine during the first season of the Ultimate Fighter and his fight with Stephan Bonner a few years back is still my favorite UFC fight ever. I also thought it was great to see the Hardy Boys, when World Championships individually. Matt Hardy, who I met in May, became ECW Champion, and Jeff Hardy became WWE Champion cementing themselves as the greatest brother tag team in pro wrestling history. I was also happy to see OJ Simpson being found guilty of something he did. He doesn’t mean much to sports anymore but he rightfully got what he deserved. I was also happy to see Samoa Joe become TNA Heavyweight Champion. He’s one of the best wrestlers out there and deserves all the success he gets. I was really happy to see young guys like Cody Rhodes, CM Punk, Kofi Kingston, and Ted Dibiase Jr. get pushed harder and win titles. I love watching second and third generation wrestlers to see if they are good as their dads or granddads. Finally, it was good to see WWE go back to Iraq for the 6th year in a row for Tribute to the Troops.
Some things that shocked me are when Allen Iverson was traded to the Pistons for Chauncey Billups who ended up in Denver. I think that shocked everyone in Detroit. It certainly shocked me. The other thing that shocked me this year is the run by Tennessee Titans without their star Quarterback Vince Young. Kerry Collins took the reigns and has led the Titans to a great run and possibly a Super Bowl. That’s a shocking but great story that will be remembered if the Titans win the Super Bowl. Also Mick Foley left WWE to become apart of TNA Wrestling. It was a huge swing in the balance of power. TNA keeps building themselves as credible pro wrestling organization that eventually can be on the same level as WWE. Another shocker is Alex Rodriguez’s affair with Madonna which led to some big divorces and lots of money for their spouses. One word describes all these moments…WOW!!!
This year in sports has been a good one. Jimmy Johnson made history by winning three consecutive NASCAR Championships, being only the second driver to do so. The Yankees have built themselves an All-Star team with Sabathia, Burnett, and Teixeira. I look forward to this coming year. We sports fans have a lot to be excited about in 2009. This year has provided us with some great memories and I am sure 2009 will provided us with some more great memories as well.