NBA players kneeling

NBA players kneel around the Black Lives Matter logo over the summer. San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Popovich elected to remain standing. 

2020 was a hectic year. From the start to the end, it seemed to constantly provide memorable moments. Here are 10 memorable sports events from the past year.

1. MLB sign-stealing scandals

In early January, MLB announced its findings in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. All Astros players were pardoned for cooperating with the investigation. In mid-April, MLB revealed its findings into the Boston Red Sox’s sign-stealing scandal. As with the Astros scandal, no players were suspended. The lack of player suspensions caused outrage among fans, analysts and several players on other teams, resulting in a public relations nightmare for the league.

2. Kobe Bryant death

On Jan. 26, former Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash. A five-time NBA champion, Bryant was one of the most iconic players in league history. Bryant also seemed poised for an incredible life and won an Oscar in 2018. Tributes flooded in across the sports world, including over 25,000 candles being lit in front of the Staples Center. 

3. Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 to win Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2. It was the Chiefs’ second Super Bowl title and their first since 1969. Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs on a 21-0 run in the final seven minutes of the game to win the game and solidified himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

4. Sports shut down

On Mar. 11, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz were preparing to play when the game was suddenly postponed because Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the coronavirus. Shortly thereafter, the NBA postponed its season indefinitely. That sent shockwaves throughout the sports landscape and caused a domino effect, with MLB and NHL also suspending their seasons, NCAA canceling March Madness and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics getting delayed to 2021. 

5. Athletes take part in Black Lives Matter movement

After George Floyd was murdered by Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin, protests against police brutality emerged all around the world. And with their leagues suspended due to coronavirus, many athletes used their platforms to draw attention to the Black Lives Matter movement. Notable players who joined the protests include Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon.

6. Sports return

In late July, sports made their triumphant return. The NBA, NHL and WNBA resumed their seasons in their respective bubbles, and MLB started its shortened 60-game season. After four months of quarantine and social distancing, the leagues’ restarts were a welcome sign that life could somewhat return to normal amid a pandemic. 

7. Tampa Bay Lightning win title

The Tampa Bay Lightning won their second Stanley Cup on Sep. 28, defeating the Dallas Stars in six games. Their title came one season after they were swept in the first round of the playoffs. Defender Victor Hedman was named the MVP of the series, as he scored one goal and had six assists in the Finals.

8. Los Angeles on top of sports world

Within the span of 16 days in October, the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Finals, and the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series. It was the Lakers’ 17th NBA championship — their first since 2010 — and the Dodgers’ seventh title, their first since 1988. For the Lakers, LeBron James and Anthony Davis became the first pair of teammates in NBA history to each average 25 points and shoot 50% from the floor in the same postseason. The Dodgers became the seventh team since 1995 to have at least a share of the best regular season record and win the World Series. 

9. College sports start up, with constant interruptions

This fall, college football and basketball started its seasons as the temperature was dropping and COVID-19 was spreading at record rates. Despite the advice of healthcare professionals, these conferences were playing their seasons outside of a bubble. It seemed almost daily that games were postponed and programs were temporarily shutting down due to positive cases among players and coaches. 

10. Sarah Fuller plays for Vanderbilt

As a result of COVID-19, the Vanderbilt Commodores had several placekickers out. As a result, they turned to Vanderbilt women’s soccer goalkeeper Sarah Fuller. When she kicked off to start the second half versus Missouri on Nov. 28, she became the third female to play football at the FBS level and the first woman to play in a Power Five conference. Two weeks later, Fuller added to her legacy when she kicked two extra points versus Tennessee. 

Contact Joshua Gingrich at gingrihj@dukes.jmu.edu. For more coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.