Best sports moments of 2022 – ESPN

As the 2022 sports calendar rolled on, fans hailed new heroes, saluted the latest champs and bid farewell to GOATs (and even welcomed a couple back). But no matter the season, our greeting was clear: we cheered on each moment that highlighted our year.
Cam Talbot’s toque couldn’t fend off minus-7 degree temperatures at the Winter Classic, as the Minnesota Wild goalie still suffered a wickedly cold start at Target Field, allowing 6 goals through two periods in a 6-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Claiming an ankle injury, Tampa Bay Bucs WR Antonio Brown refused to re-enter a road game against the New York Jets, and instead removed his jersey and exited the field. Controversy has followed Brown ever since, including separate allegations of indecent exposure and misdemeanor battery.
Ben Roethlisberger left the only home field he has ever known with the only thing he ever cared about — a Steelers victory, 26-14, over the Browns — but only after circling Heinz Field to bask in the glory.
Avenging its only loss of the season, Georgia trounced Alabama with a star-studded defense (5 NFL first-round picks) and former walk-on QB Stetson Bennett at the helm.
I don't think I had cried in years, but there was no holding it back tonight. And I don't think I'm done crying yet. Not a chance.
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark followed her 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Nebraska with 35/13/11 versus Minnesota, becoming the first NCAA player, man or woman, with consecutive 30-point triple doubles.
In the most nail-biting NFL playoff weekend ever, the Bengals, 49ers, Rams and Chiefs all won Divisional Round games on walk-off scores, with a combined margin of victory of just 15 points.
Bengals 19, Titans 16
Jan 22
49ers 13, Packers 10
Jan 22
Rams 30, Buccaneers 27
Jan 23
Chiefs 42, Bills 36
Jan 23
The designated hitter has never played a bigger role in baseball. And no DH has ever played bigger than David Ortiz, who became the first full-time DH to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
Everyone assumed Rafael Nadal would break the record for Grand Slam titles at the French Open, the site of 14 of his 20 triumphs. Instead, he won No. 21 in Australia, then, of course, netted 22 in Paris five months later.
Before his Bills downed the Jets in their regular-season finale, WR Stefon Diggs honored what TV legend with a posthumous tribute on his pregame cleats?
Diggs did memorialize John Madden with his cleats on Jan. 2, but it was Betty White he honored in the final week of the regular season.
Diggs did memorialize John Madden with his cleats on Jan. 2, but it was Betty White he honored in the final week of the regular season.
On the second day of the second month of 2022, Grizzlies second-year 2-guard Desmond Bane shot 22.2% from the field with 2 fouls, 2 assists, 2 turnovers and 2 steals — all in a No. 22 jersey.
Trevor Zegras amazed Las Vegas at NHL All-Star Weekend’s Breakaway Challenge, scoring blindfolded while beaned by dodgeballs. But hometown hero Alex Pietrangelo won, assisted by a 19 (out of 10) score from judge Jon Hamm.
The Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, created unforgettable memories for athletes competing in their first Games, their final Games or making comebacks after previous disappointments.
Nathan Chen
Feb 08
Lindsey Jacobellis
Feb 09
Shaun White
Feb 10
Erin Jackson
Feb 10
Elana Meyers Taylor
Feb 10
I'm truly thankful to be here and still competing and even getting fourth, I'm proud of it. The future for me is so exciting. There's so much I want to do in my life. So much to do, so much to live for, this is just the beginning.
The iconically raucous and ironically named Waste Management Open erupted with cups of beer after Sam Ryder’s third-round ace on the 16th. The next day, Carlos Ortiz’s hole-in-one kept the party rolling.
In a rematch at UFC 271, Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya defended his middleweight belt vs. Robert Whittaker with flair — using feints and stance switches to set up powerful blows in a five-round unanimous decision.
Matthew Stafford threw Cooper Kupp a fourth-quarter, back-shoulder pass to lift the Rams over the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, then made another perfect toss to one of his four daughters at confetti-carpeted SoFi Stadium.
This game can teach us so much as people. I get to go to work with people from all walks of life, come together and go for one goal. For 12 years, that goal wasn't reached. It tore me up inside, but I knew I could keep playing and try to find a way.
Steph Curry was hot out of the box at the All-Star Game, draining his first three over Trae Young on his way to making a record 16 treys, scoring a nice round 50 points and winning the inaugural Kobe Bryant MVP Award.
It's not about my match [or] how it affects me because what's happening is much more terrible. You realize how important it is to have peace in the world and to respect each other no matter what and to be united.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a casual viewer, everyone can appreciate and relate to an effort play, an improbable shot or a clutch decision.
After struggling to leave its besieged nation, the Ukrainian Paralympic Team finished only behind host China (63) with 29 medals, led by vision-impaired biathlete Oksana Shyshkova, middle, who celebrated her third gold in Beijing with her guide, Andriy Marchenko, left.
UFC 272 was personal for classic heel Colby Covington (gray trunks) and ex-roommate Jorge Masvidal, who seethed after years of Covington’s insults. Two weeks after Covington’s win, Masvidal would allegedly assault him outside a Miami restaurant.
With win No. 1,336, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich broke the NBA record held by Don Nelson, his onetime boss at Golden State. In 26 years, Pop has won five titles and three Coach of the Year honors.
The debate of Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi is stalemated. But Manchester United’s CR7 aided his cause when his 806th goal put him past Josef Bican as FIFA’s leading scorer. Messi lurks 37 behind.
On Carmelo Anthony’s 3, Lebron James became the first NBA player with 10,000 career points, rebounds and assists. The only player to come close? Jason Kidd, who fell 1,275 rebounds shy.
It wasn’t a well-kept secret that two-time Open Championship winner Greg Norman was using Saudi Arabia’s deep pockets to develop a rival tour.

On the driving range and putting green at PGA Tour events, players wondered who might be the first golfer to jump. It wasn’t the first time Norman had tried to develop a competing circuit, but with the Public Investment Fund initially pledging $400 million to support the new league, it was a legitimate threat to the PGA Tour.

LIV Golf would have 54 holes instead of the traditional 72 and shotgun starts. It promised to be “golf, but louder.”
Phil’s critiques
Feb 02
PGA’s vocal leader
Feb 15
LIV makes it official
Mar 16
They are scary motherf—–s to get involved with. We know they killed [Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it?
For the first time since Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer led players to split from the PGA of America and form the PGA Tour in 1968, the top circuit had a serious competitor in LIV Golf.

Along with playing only three rounds, LIV Golf’s team format was unique. Twelve four-man teams competed in each event; captains had a draft to select players before the first couple tournaments. During the first two rounds, a team’s two best scores counted. For the final round, the top three scores were included. Each event crowned individual and team champions.
The first big defectors
Jun 07
PGA won’t budge
Jul 09
Tiger sounds off
Jul 12
McIlroy wins FedEx Cup
Aug 28
On Aug. 3, 11 LIV golfers, including Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, alleging they were unlawfully suspended. They also accused the PGA Tour of using its monopoly power to squash competition.

Three LIV players — Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford — sought an order from a federal judge that would have allowed them to compete in the PGA Tour’s three FedEx Cup playoff events. The judge denied their request.

The U.S. Department of Justice opened an investigation into the PGA Tour’s handling of LIV players and its alleged antitrust practices.
World ranking points denied
Sep 01
Lawsuit takes a turn
Sep 27
After a controversial inaugural season, LIV Golf is transforming into a league with 14 events and $405 million in purses. Clearly, the Saudi-backed circuit isn’t going away. The courtroom drama continues, as a trial isn’t expected to begin until Jan. 8, 2024.
Penn’s 500-yard freestyle swimmer Lia Thomas became the first known transgender Division I champion, sparking debate from campuses to Congress over how Title IX applies to transgender athletes regarding equality and fairness.
Long tired of the WTA grind, top-ranked Ash Barty retired from tennis at age 25, seeing no better time to quit than after becoming the first Aussie to win the Australian Open in 44 years.
MAAC champ St. Peter’s (16-11 regular season) squeaked into the NCAA tournament, then used its frenzied defense and deep rotation to upset second-seeded Kentucky, 7-seed Murray State and 3-seed Purdue to become the Elite Eight’s first 15-seed.
Nine months after collapsing to the pitch as his heart stopped, Christian Eriksen rejoined Denmark’s national team versus Netherlands in Amsterdam. A halftime sub, he scored on his very first touch in a 4-2 loss.
Although Forbes lists Messi as this year’s highest earner ($130M), it estimates that LeBron James ($1.0B), Tigers Woods ($1.1B), and Michael Jordan ($1.7B) are the only athletes in the “Three Comma Club.”
Although Forbes lists Messi as this year’s highest earner ($130M), it estimates that LeBron James ($1.0B), Tigers Woods ($1.1B), and Michael Jordan ($1.7B) are the only athletes in the “Three Comma Club.”
The numbers are staggering — 47 seasons, 1,202 wins, 5 national titles, 75 NBA players — yet the absence of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who retired after losing in the Final Four to rival UNC 81-77, seems immeasurable.
Coach Dawn Staley guided South Carolina to its second national title in five seasons, keeping her undefeated coaching record in NCAA title games intact and handing Geno Auriemma his first national championship game loss in 12 games.
It was divinely ordered for us to be champions today. We weren’t going to be denied.
Kansas, down 15 at halftime, launched the largest comeback in NCAA Finals history, outscoring UNC 31-10 to start the second half. The 72-69 win handed Kansas its fourth national title, and first since 2008.
With the Augusta National gallery in full force for the first time since 2019, the 80th Masters delivered with a legendary return, a father-son celebration and a dominant new champion.
Tiger Woods
Apr 08
Stewart Cink
Apr 09
Scottie Scheffler
Apr 10
If you're going to choose a golf tournament to win, this would be the tournament.
Taking over for an ejected first-base coach, the Giants’ Alyssa Nakken became MLB’s first woman on-field coach. In 2020, the former Giants intern made history as the first woman to coach full-time in the bigs.
Weatherford College pitcher Owen Woodward didn’t appreciate North Texas Central’s Josh Phillips spouting expletives during a home run trot. Woodward’s form tackle earned him a release from the team.
Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera singled against Colorado for hit No. 3,000 and a likely ticket to Cooperstown. Among eligible 3,000-hit players, only Pete Rose, Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro are not enshrined.
ESPN worked with incredibly talented photographers and artists to produce custom photo shoots to supplement some of the biggest profiles of the year.
Rich Strike, the Kentucky Derby’s longest shot (80-1), was 16th in the final turn before Sonny Leone steered him through the pack, toward the rail and to the winner’s circle as the second-biggest underdog to wear the roses.
His Nuggets first-round losers, Nikola Jokic was home in Serbia when surprised with his second consecutive MVP trophy. His 27.1/13.8/7.9 slash line contributed to an NBA-leading 32.8 PER.
Angels rookie Reid Detmers no-hit the Rays, then, against the Rangers on July 31, struck out the side in nine pitches to become just the third pitcher with a no-no and an immaculate inning.
The NBA postseason can always be counted on to intensify a beef, shatter championship dreams and create a poster or two.
Andrew Wiggins
May 16
Al Horford
May 16
Luka Doncic
May 17
In his debut with Baltimore, 2019 overall No. 1 pick Adley Rutschman delivered his first major league hit, a seventh inning stand-up triple. The O’s began the season 16-24, but were 67-55 after the catcher arrived.
Poland’s Iga Swiatek made short work of the French Open field, dropping just one set in seven matches and extending her win streak to 35, the best run in the WTA in 25 years.
Considering the U.S. inflation rate of 8%, what was the average cost of a single hot dog at an MLB ballpark in 2022?
Inflation hit concession stands just like grocery stores and gas pumps. One MLB vendor ESPN spoke with said the company’s cost to acquire hot dogs increased between 20% and 30% in just a year and a half.
Inflation hit concession stands just like grocery stores and gas pumps. One MLB vendor ESPN spoke with said the company’s cost to acquire hot dogs increased between 20% and 30% in just a year and a half.
In separate games in the College World Series regionals, ECU’s Bryson Worrell and Auburn’s Cole Foster homered from both sides of the plate in one inning — a feat matched by only three MLB players in 146 seasons.
On Feb. 17, WNBA legend Brittney Griner landed in Russia, headed to join the club team she’d played with since 2013. Suddenly customs agents pulled her out of line. They said they’d found something in her bag.
Arrest news breaks
Mar 5
Video released
Mar 10
The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner. … The U.S. government will continue to undertake efforts to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner.
After the State Department declared that Griner was being wrongfully detained, her supporters launched a campaign to pressure the White House to bring her home.
Supporters energized
The trial begins
Jul 01
Bring BG Home Rally
Jul 06
WNBA, NBA unite in support
Jul 20
I’m terrified I might be here forever.
Griner pleaded guilty to bringing hashish oil into Russia on July 7. She asked for mercy, lamenting she never intended to break the law. A month later, she was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison.
Defense’s strategy
Aug 15
Appeal denied
Oct 25
Penal colony
Nov 17
Griner freed
Dec 08
Coming home
Dec 08
Griner lands in Texas
Dec 16
After thanking “everyone who advocated” for her, including the president and his staff, in her first Instagram post back on American soil, Griner said she intended to play for the Mercury this upcoming season.
Oklahoma finished 56-4 and won the Women’s College World Series in 2021. In 2022, OU actually improved, going 59-3 with another title as two-time player of the year Jocelyn Alo slashed .667/5/13 in six WCWS games.
After failing to make the playoffs in successive years, third-seeded Golden State wasn’t exactly a 2022 favorite. But Finals MVP Steph Curry (31 ppg) and crew beat Boston in six, making their fourth title look practically pre-ordained.
I told him after the game, there is nothing else you can possibly do in this game. It is good to get another championship and top it off with a Finals MVP. That is one of the few things he didn't have.
Katie Ledecky won 800-meter freestyle gold at the FINA World Championships, becoming the first swimmer to capture five consecutive world titles in a single event. It was her 42nd straight 800-meter freestyle win, dating to 2013.
Shareef Miller, a 2019 fourth-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles, was among 320 players keeping football dreams alive in the reborn USFL. Although Miller didn’t punch a ticket to the NFL after the season, 15 leaguemates did.
Skating over to bring the Stanley Cup to his team’s victory photo, Avalanche RW Nicolas Aube-Kubel stumbled and sent the famed trophy tumbling into his teammates, marking the fastest any club has damaged the Cup.
Mariners outfielder Jesse Winker was none too pleased to get plunked in the keister. But instead of rushing the mound, Winker charged the Angels dugout, sparking a brawl that resulted in eight ejections, including errant pitcher Andrew Wantz.
Ole Miss baseball was one of the last four teams to qualify for the postseason. But after capping a 10-1 tear with a sweep of Oklahoma in the College World Series finals, the Rebels were undeniably No. 1.
Sometimes you get to watch greatness happen, and sometimes you become it. These sports fans made incredible snags, with and without children strapped to them, and generally had experiences they likely won’t forget.
Joey Chestnut downed 63 dogs to earn his 15th Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog title. Chestnut’s pace-13 off of his record of 76 in 2021-was slowed mid-munch when he put an on-stage protestor in a headlock.
President Joe Biden looked beyond athletic feats when presenting Medals of Freedom to two of America’s brightest stars: praising Simone Biles’ advocacy for abuse survivors and Megan Rapinoe’s fight for equal rights for all Americans.
While the banning of Russian and Belarusian players by the All England Club made headlines ahead of Wimbledon, this fortnight will still be best remembered for the drama that unfolded on the grass.
Ons Jabeur
Jul 07
Rafael Nadal
Jul 07
Elena Rybakina
Jul 09
Novak Djokovic
Jul 10
Shingo Kunieda
Jul 10
Although participants were announced in front of a wall of fire, Nationals right fielder Juan Soto started his Home Run Derby final round a cold 0-for-9. Then he got hot, sending 10 of his next 12 pitches over the fence at Dodger Stadium to coast to a 19-18 win over Mariners rookie outfielder Julio Rodriguez.
Dick Vitale, while accepting the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance as he recovered from cancer, pointed skyward and evoked his good friend’s courage and vision of finding a cure. “I will tell you this, Jimmy V, my man — we are not going to stop chasing the dream.”
Amanda Nunes won a unanimous decision over Juliana Peña at UFC 277 to take back her bantamweight belt. Nunes, also the reigning featherweight champ, became the first UFC fighter to simultaneously hold two belts for a second time.
At which of these sporting events in international stadiums did fans get free beer and food because of malfunctioning credit card machines?
Northwestern got its first — and only — win of the season, over Nebraska, 31-28, at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, but all the fans won at the concession stands.
Northwestern got its first — and only — win of the season, over Nebraska, 31-28, at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, but all the fans won at the concession stands.
Like all of baseball, Dodgers broadcasters Orel Hershiser and Joe Davis mourned the death of legendary play-by-play announcer Vin Scully at the age of 94. Scully’s retirement in 2016 marked the end of 67 seasons calling Dodgers baseball, but he remains as the immortal voice of the game.
In the final regular-season home game of her 21-year career with the Seattle Storm, Sue Bird was preparing to inbound the ball when a young admirer offered her a flower-and expressed the appreciation of fans everywhere.
With a 5-1 win over Oakland, Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani pushed his record to 10-7 to become the first player with at least 10 wins and 10 home runs since Babe Ruth went 13-8 with 11 homers in 1918. “Shotime” would finish the season 15-9 with 34 dingers.
The Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs walked through the Dyersville, Iowa, cornstalks out onto the playing surface in a scene that felt right out of a movie.
Retro threads
Aug 11
View from the grass
Aug 11
Cubs win
Aug 11
Dreams change
Aug 11
Welterweight champ Kamaru Usman entered UFC 278 at 20-1 and looking for a record-tying 16th straight victory. But the champ left the octagon without his belt after Leon Edwards connected on a head kick for a stunning fifth-round KO.
Hall of Fame golfer JoAnne Carner, 83, shot her age at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open. But the 43-time winner on the LPGA Tour wasn’t exactly thrilled, grousing to Golfweek: “The whole swing was basically off.”
The boys from Honolulu dominated the Little League World Series, outscoring their six opponents 60-5 and ending four games early with a 10-run lead, including their 13-3 win over Curacao for the title.
ESPN photo editors curated a collection of the most beautiful, emotional and dramatic photographs from this year in sports.
Josh Fallows of Exeter College, Oxford, on the first hole during the President’s Putter golf tournament at Rye Golf Club on Jan. 6.
Switzerland ski jumper Dominik Peter competed in Men’s Large Hill qualification at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Feb. 11.
Team Spain competed in the Highlight Routine Final on June 25 at the Budapest FINA World Championships.
Track cyclists crashed on the final lap of the men’s 15 kilometer scratch qualifying race during the Commonwealth Games in London on July 31.
Rutger Koppelaar, of the Netherlands, on Aug. 20 in the Men’s pole vault final during the athletics competition at the European Championships in Munich, Germany.
Salma Paralluelo celebrated Spain’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup championship on Aug. 28 in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady with his daughter, Vivian, on the sidelines prior to a game against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 25.
Jonquel Jones of Bosnia and Herzegovina, top, took on this challenge by Maxilla Lisowa Mbaka of Belgium during their FIBA World Cup Group A match on Sept. 26. in Sydney, Australia.
Florida Panthers center Colin White checked Boston Bruins winger Nick Foligno into the boards on Oct. 17 at Boston’s TD Garden.
Holly Harris and Jason Chan of Australia performed at the Skate Canada International at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, on Oct. 30.
Hans Niemann upset five-time world champion Magnus Carlsen, and the chess world fell to pieces: Carlsen quit the tournament; observers alleged cheating; chat rooms buzzed about vibrating devices; Niemann offered to play nude; banned Niemann; Carlsen resigned from rematch after one move; Niemann filed $100 million defamation lawsuit; chess kept trending.
After announcing she would be “evolving” away from tennis with an essay in Vogue in August, thus ending one of the most storied careers in the sport’s history, all eyes were on Serena Williams ahead of the US Open — the tournament in which she won her first major title in 1999.
The queen of Queens
Aug 29
Crowd propels Serena
Aug 29
One last upset
Aug 31
The final turn
Sep 02
These are happy tears, I guess. I don't know. And I wouldn't be Serena if there wasn't Venus, so thank you Venus. She's the only reason Serena Williams ever existed … It's been a fun ride. It's been the most incredible ride and journey I've ever been on.
Roger Federer announced his retirement with an emotional social media post, but said he first would play in the upcoming Laver Cup, an annual exhibition team event he co-founded which pits the best European men’s players against those from the rest of the world.
A fitting end
Sep 22
Rivals join forces
Sep 23
A tribute to the greatest
Sep 23
Legacy cemented
Sep 23
While there are a number of talented young stars who will try to cement their status atop the game, the joint departure of the transcendent Serena and Federer — two of the best to ever play — marked the end of an incredible era, one we will likely never see replicated.
Pairing a 130-mph serve with touch at the net, 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz of Spain topped Casper Ruud in four sets to win the U.S. Open and become the youngest ATP world No. 1 ever.
As clutch as their new coach, Las Vegas won its first WNBA title and made Becky Hammon the first former WNBA player to win it all as a coach.
They’re just big-time players, they love big moments. That’s nothing I can teach — it’s in their DNA — that’s who they are.
With a unanimous decision over Mando Gutierrez, 17-year-old bantamweight Raul Rosas Jr. won more than the Contender Series-he earned a contract to become the youngest UFC fighter in history.
Running full speed 30 yards down the right sideline, Steelers WR George Pickens looked over his left shoulder to spot the ball arriving over his right shoulder. His only option: get horizontal and make the catch of the year.
With his second homer in an 11-0 win over the Dodgers, Cardinals DH Albert Pujols joined Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds as the only players to hit 700 career home runs.
Late in the game, with the ball on the 1, Dolphins punter Thomas Morstead launched a kick directly into his upback’s backside, resulting in a safety. Fortunately for blocker Trent Sherfield, Miami pulled it out to beat the Bills 21-19.
Oops didn’t mean to tweet that. Not sure how to delete.
Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa’s second serious head injury in just four days sparked public outrage and prompted the NFL to add ataxia (loss of full control of any bodily movement) as a no-go symptom to its concussion protocol.
Which of these fashion houses did Serena Williams walk the runway in at Paris Fashion Week?
Already a fashion icon and designer, Williams walked as a model at Paris Fashion Week during a memorial show for Off-White founder and friend, Virgil Abloh, who had succumbed to cancer in November 2021. She wore the gold Balenciaga gown for the Vogue World show at New York Fashion Week in September.
Already a fashion icon and designer, Williams walked as a model at Paris Fashion Week during a memorial show for Off-White founder and friend, Virgil Abloh, who had succumbed to cancer in November 2021. She wore the gold Balenciaga gown for the Vogue World show at New York Fashion Week in September.
Panic ensued when police fired 40 rounds of flash grenades, flares and tear gas after failing to quell mass violence on the postgame pitch at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Indonesia. More than 130 soccer fans died in a stampede toward locked and narrow exits.
In the offseason, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge vowed to hit 50 home runs in 2022. That seemed bold at the time, but then he went and broke Roger Maris’ 61-year-old record of 61 home runs hit in 1961.
The pitch
Oct 04
The trot
Oct 04
The celly
Oct 04
Tennessee topped Alabama 52-49 for the first time since 2006, prompting the crowd to tear down the goalposts, haul them out of General Neyland’s fine stadium and toss them in the Tennessee River.
Self-titled GWOAT Claressa Shields lived up to her hype, taking the WBO middleweight belt from the U.K.’s Savannah Marshall to unify the division in front of 20,000 fans packing London’s 02 Arena for the all-woman card.
The NBA honored the late Bill Russell’s unparalleled career with an unprecedented move — the league-wide retirement of his No. 6 jersey. Russell, who died July 30 at age 88, won 11 NBA titles and 5 MVP awards with the Celtics and became one of America’s leading voices for social justice. He was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
Philadelphia was 21-29 entering June, but by the time Bryce Harper homered in the eighth inning of a pennant-clinching 4-3 win over the Padres, these Phils seemed like a team of destiny.
In his first bout since joining the Ukrainian army in February, lightweight boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko scored a unanimous decision over ex-sparring partner Jamaine Ortiz.
A brawl following Michigan State’s 29-7 loss at Michigan led to a host of repercussions for the Spartans: eight suspended players, seven assault charges and a $100K fine from the Big Ten.
Needing to pass two cars in the final turn to make the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4, Ross Chastain mashed the gas and rode the wall past five drivers, setting a Martinsville Speedway lap record in the process.
What is a game-changing play without a smooth dance move or a championship run without a parade through the city? We’re not willing to find out.
Crossover right. Between-the-legs left. Crossover right. Avoid landing on Daniel Gafford lying on the Wizards’ home floor. Kevin Durant did that.
The same can’t be said of her mug, but light-welterweight champ Chantelle Cameron’s record remained unmarked after a unanimous decision over Jessica McCaskill: 17-0, 8 KO and ahead on every card.
When his Astros won the World Series in six games over the Phillies, beloved manager Dusty Baker, 73, became the oldest manager/head coach to win a title in major American sports.
I knew it was gonna happen sooner or later. Stay around long enough, it's gotta happen.
Alex Pereira had beaten Israel Adesanya twice in kickboxing, yet his fifth-round TKO of the UFC middleweight champ was one of MMA’s biggest stunners of the year.
Three members of the Virginia football team were shot and killed by a former player, bringing the campus to a mournful standstill.
Candlelight vigil
Nov 13
On-campus remembrance
Nov 14
Memorial service
Nov 19
Facing a Friday storm that would eventually dump 80 inches of snow (enough to bury Josh Allen in full uniform), the Bills hopped a flight to balmy Detroit, where they topped the Browns 31-23.
The World Cup in Qatar is playing out against a backdrop of controversy, including questions about the host nation’s poor human rights record and concerns over the treatment of migrant workers used to build the tournament’s infrastructure.

The debate continued once action on the pitch began, with the group stage seeing tournament favorites Brazil, Argentina, France and England make their case to be considered genuine contenders for the trophy.
Support for Iran
Nov 21
The first tremor
Nov 22
Scissor-kick strike
Nov 24
On the board
Nov 25
Captain America
Nov 29
No El Tri
Dec 02
All-women referee crew
Dec 02
The US were one of the 16 teams to advance to the knockout stages and alongside expected teams like Brazil, France, England and Argentina were underdogs like Morocco, Japan and Australia.
USMNT smothered
Dec 03
Where’s Ronaldo?
Dec 06
Croatia stuns Brazil
Dec 09
Hello, Cinderella
Dec 10
Another penalties Thriller
Dec 10
In the end, Argentina met France in Lusail Stadium for soccer’s ultimate prize, and it turned out to be arguably the best World Cup final of all time. You had Lionel Messi trying to win the first World Cup of his glittering career at age 35, up against his club teammate, Kylian Mbappe, in search of his second World Cup before turning 24. The game didn’t disappoint, either.
Mbappe brilliance
Dec 13
Dec 13
Cup Comes Home
Dec 20
Qatar 2022 will be remembered for a brilliant final that ultimately gave Messi the final piece of his GOAT collection — a Jules Rimet trophy. But it will also be known as a tournament shrouded in controversy. Only time will tell what the long term implications of the first Middle East World Cup will ultimately be.
These Grabowskis nailed every detail: identical brown aviators, officially licensed sweater vests, homegrown mustaches. The only flaw at Jake Mazanke’s bachelor party in Atlanta? Da Bears lost to the Falcons 27-24.
Averaging 59 yards on its six touchdowns, Michigan thumped Ohio State 45-23 in a battle of the unbeatens. Said Jim Harbaugh of Michigan’s first win at The Horseshoe since 2000: “It feels good to sing ‘The Victors’ in Columbus.”
Serge Ibaka's “Champion” has been streamed on Spotify more than 35 million times since it was released in February 2021. “Money Ball” has a little over 12 million streams since 2019.
Serge Ibaka's “Champion” has been streamed on Spotify more than 35 million times since it was released in February 2021. “Money Ball” has a little over 12 million streams since 2019.
USC’s storybook season was supposed to end in a playoff bid with the Trojans vindicating their only loss with a win over Utah in the Pac-12 title game. Instead, the Utes again sacked Troy and its transcendent QB Caleb Williams 41-28.
Tyson Fury vowed to hang up his gloves after he knocked out Dillian Whyte in April, but “The Gypsy King” couldn’t stay retired long. The WBO heavyweight champ dispatched Derek Chisora with a 10th-round TKO and immediately called out Oleksandr Usyk, who attended the bout, for a unification fight.
Shut out by UNC for the first 80 minutes, UCLA stormed late to score two goals, including on a corner kick with just 16 seconds remaining, to send the women’s final of the College Cup into overtime. UCLA would prevail, 3-2, for the program’s second national title.
USC QB Caleb Williams ran away with the Heisman Trophy, gathering 544 of a possible 929 first-place votes to beat out the runner-up, TCU QB Max Duggan. The trophy may have felt hollow, though, since his team lost out on a chance at a national title.
In his first career start, San Francisco QB Brock Purdy orchestrated a 35-7 blowout of Tampa Bay and became the only quarterback to ever debut with a win over Tom Brady. As an encore, Purdy, the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, would help the Niners clinch the NFC West with a 21-13 win at Seattle.
The Air Raid offense Mike Leach developed with Hal Mumme transformed football, spread Leach’s protégés across the sport, and earned him a 158-107 career record at Texas Tech, Washington State and, lastly, Mississippi State. But Leach, with a law degree on his wall, flip flops on his feet and a quote on his lips, will best be remembered for being Mike Leach.
Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick in Washington’s 7-3 win over Chicago, joining hall-of-famers Gordie Howe (801) and Wayne Gretzky (894) as the only NHL players with 800 career goals. Ovechkin, 37, has averaged 46 goals per season, which puts him on pace to catch Gretzky midway through the 2024-25 season.
Nobody panicked when Steph Curry partly separated his left shoulder in a 125-119 loss at Indiana. But considering that Golden State wins just 33.4% of its games without Curry and is 15-18 as of Dec. 24, the defending champs better hope their star doesn’t miss more than the anticipated month while rehabbing.
Down 33 points to the Colts at the half, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins thought teammate Patrick Peterson was joking when he announced: “All we need to do is score five touchdowns.” Peterson was wrong. They also needed a 40-yard field goal in OT from kicker Greg Joseph to top the Colts, 39-36, and complete the largest comeback in NFL history.
We can’t end the year without a few bloopers, can we? Use this as your end-of-year reminder that sports are fun and professional athletes are (admittedly rarely) just like us.
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