Sports: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Stunning upsets! Crushing defeats! Hideous beards! Take a look back at the year in sports.
From David Tyree’s incredible catch to Eli emerging from Peyton’s shadow to Big Blue’s defensive line tossing then-invincible pretty boy Tom Brady around like a rag doll, the Giants’ win over the Pats in Super Bowl XLII proved any dream can come true—even covering a 12-point spread. Cha-ching!
Best ’80s Revival
OK, so it wasn’t Bird versus Magic, there was no surprise appearance by Scott Wedman, and everybody’s shorts were much longer. But this year’s Celtics-Lakers NBA finals did feature the following super-awesome highlights:
Game 1: Boston’s Paul Pierce falls down, gets carried off the floor and rolled into the tunnel in a wheelchair…then reemerges minutes later, totally fine!
Game 4: The Celts stage the biggest comeback in NBA championship history, clawing their way back from a 20-point third quarter deficit.
Game 6: The Celtics blow the Lakers out by 39 points to clinch the series, prompting former Celtic and Laker Bill Walton’s head to explode. OK, not literally.
Best. Golfer. Ever.
In June Tiger Woods grinded out a five-day, 91-hole victory in the U.S. Open with a double stress fracture in his tibia and a shredded left knee. Actually, he’d been swinging on a torn ACL for 10 months, which is probably why he only won nine of 12 tourneys in that span. What a pussy.
Best Excuse to Smelt
We’re suffering from Michael Phelps fatigue as much as the next guy, so we’ll just point out one overlooked upside to all of his freakish, Olympic-record-setting success: The 146 grams of silver and six grams of gold in Phelps’ eight Beijing medals make each one worth about 230 bucks. Hey, that dude’s rich!
- Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton lights up the Home Run Derby with a record-breaking 28 first-round dingers.
- Danica Patrick becomes the first woman to win an IRL race. And the first woman to speed without causing a 10-car pileup.
- Hideki Matsui announces his marriage at a press conference by holding up a sketch of his wife.
- Retired NBA journeyman Christian Laettner is inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame!
- The Giants and Dolphins play a regular-season game in London—to teach those limey bastards what “football” means.
Most Epic Battle
Roger Federer had won five straight Wimbledons, and Rafael Nadal had been the loser of the last two. But at the end of their five-hour, five-set match this year—it lasted through three rain delays and ended in darkness—Nadal had the trophy; Federer, nothing but his $100 million Nike contract. Even John McEnroe called it the geatest match ever.
Manliest Chick Fight
The Detroit Shock and Los Angeles Sparks left their estrogen in the locker room on July 22 when they squared off in the WNBA’s first-ever big-time brawl. When the dust settled, 10 players got suspensions, Shock assistant coach Rick Mahorn was disciplined, and we developed a fleeting interest in the WNBA!
The world’s new fastest man has a towering 6’5″ frame and a last name that’s every lazy marketer’s wet dream. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt obliterated records in both the 100-meter and 200-meter races in Beijing and led his team to gold in the 4×100-meter relay, all without even trying.
Best Reason to Gamble With Coworkers
After Kansas stunned UNC and Memphis spanked UCLA in the Final Four, the stage was set for an all-time March Madness classic. Memphis led with 2.1 seconds left, until Kansas’ Mario Chalmers drained a three to tie. The Jayhawks took it in OT, and that freaking IT guy took the pot, again.
Best Accidental Porn
NBCOlympics.com’s “photo essay” on beach volleyball hand signals, which basically amounted to a photo gallery of superhot asses.
At 23, Kyle Busch is already the most hated driver in NASCAR—but he may also be its best. He won seven Sprint Cup contests leading up to the season’s final 10-race showdown…plus 11 races in the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck series. That’s kind of like an NFL quarterback dominating the CFL and professional rugby in his spare time.
After humiliating losses in the last two World Championships and a bronze in the 2004 Olympics (thanks, Stephon Marbury!), LeBron, Kobe, and Co. went to Beijing and won our swagger back. Deal with it, world. We’re dicks again!
Best Reversal of Fortune
For the first time in 13 years, the New York Yankees didn’t make the playoffs. And for the first time ever, the Tampa Bay Rays did. See, baseball fans? There is a God, and He is listening.
The Good | The Bad | The Ugly
Most Unnecessary Side Job
We thought we’d go our whole lives without seeing Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban do a mambo in a sleeveless shirt, but that hope was shattered when he appeared on Dancing With the Stars. We asked the NBA renegade about wiping the floor with Wayne Newton.
Q: Please rate your performance.
A: Much better than expected.
Q: Would you like one last chance to rub it in to Newton that you beat him?
A: No, Wayne is a great guy. But I do let Floyd [Mayweather] know who was better every time I see him. OK, maybe not every time, because he would beat my ass.
Q: What was your favorite ridiculous shimmery outfit?
A: What I wore when I danced the jive—kind of a ’40s look. Watch for it at a Mavs game!
- The Seattle Sonics are shipped off to Oklahoma City, renamed the Thunder, and given the sorriest logo in the NBA.
- Parachute jumpers looking to pump up a college football crowd land in the wrong stadium. Sorry, UNC!
- The city of Miami considers un-naming Jose Canseco Street.
- Champion bull “Big Bucks” is tested for steroids, scandalizing the rodeo world.
- Al Davis’ bizarre press conference lambasting fired Raiders coach Lane Kiffin.
- The disgusting (yet catchy!) refrain of Shaq’s freestyle rap after the NBA finals: “Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes.
First the Chinese jailed protesters before the Olympics. Then, at the 0pening ceremonies, they digitally enhanced fireworks and replaced a homely seven-year-old singer with a cute little lip-syncher. But when they trotted out a women’s gymnastics team full of prepubescent freaks, the world was finally forced to call bullshit.
Weakest Trash Talk
“I’ll be in the winner’s circle when they get to the quarter pole.” So promised Big Brown’s trainer, Rick Dutrow Jr., before the “foregone conclusion” of a win at the Belmont Stakes and the first Triple Crown since 1978. Instead, his star colt finished dead last—with nary an injury to blame.
Most Delayed Reaction
October 14, 2003: Steve Bartman seemingly knocks a foul ball from the glove of Moises Alou during the 2003 NLCS. The governor of Illinois seriously suggests he enter witness protection.
April 1, 2008: Alou muses, “You know what the funny thing is? I wouldn’t have caught it anyway.” Hilarious!
Angered over being cut by the Detroit Lions (apparently someone actually wants to play for them), running back Tatum Bell took the next logical step and swiped the luggage of his replacement, Rudi Johnson—in front of a security camera!
Most Impressive Waste of Money
When a Red Sox–worshiping construction worker buried a David Ortiz jersey in the foundation of their new stadium, the Yankees had two choices: (1) Ignore it. (2) Hold a five-hour, $50,000 “excavation ceremony” to dig it up. Guess which one they chose.
Best Use of Irony
The NBA’s Rookie Transition Program teaches fresh-faced innocents about the perils of drugs and groupies. Apparently, Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur weren’t taking notes. Hotel security busted the pair in a room with at least two women, the smell of pot, and someone locked in the bathroom repeatedly flushing the toilet.
Most Exciting Moment in Baseball That Never Happened
The Seattle Mariners proved they aren’t fans of girl-on-girl action when Sirbrina Guerrero and her partner were asked to leave Safeco Field for “making out.” Bigots!
Media Sensitivity Award
First Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman said the only way Tiger Woods’ opponents could stop him would be to “lynch him.” Then Golfweek smartly reported on the controversy…with a cover shot of a noose. Tasteful!
Dumbest Reason To Go To Court
What’s worse: legally changing your name to Ocho Cinco or forbidding Chad John-er, Ocho Cinco—from putting that name on his jersey until the NFL’s inventory of Johnson jerseys sells out? (c) Being a Bengals fan.
The Good | The Bad | The UglyTHE UGLY
Before Spain’s men’s basketball team took off for the Olympics in Beijing, the country’s Basketball Federation published a “good luck advertisement” in newspapers, featuring a photo of the entire team (including Lakers star and Spanish national Pau Gasol) making slanty eyes with their index fingers. (Get it?) Later, photos were uncovered of the women’s basketball team and the country’s Federation Cup tennis team posing the exact same way. You stay classy, Spain.
- Filly Eight Belles is put down at the track after breaking her front ankles in the Kentucky Derby.
- A Philadelphia man tries to extort Tom Coughlin by threatening to tell his wife about a fake affair involving two women in a hotel room. [Shudder]
- A Wrigley Field–themed cemetery, complete with scoreboard and ivy-covered brick wall, is born. Cubs’ Series hopes buried there.
- Herschel Walker’s autobiography reveals he has multiple personalities and used to play Russian roulette. Does not explain why he kind of sucked in the NFL.
After he was disqualified in the bronze-medal tae kwon do match, Cuban Olympian Angel Matos chased down referee Chakir Chelbat and kicked him in the face. An announcer noted that the move was “a strong violation of the spirit of tae kwon do,” which is more about kicking the crap out of people.
Most Disturbing Team-Building Exercise
With the glorious sheen on that mustache, it’s easy to forget the other weapon in Jason Giambi’s slump-busting arsenal: a gold lamé thong. The glimmering banana-hugger worked so well, Giambi even shared it with underperforming teammates like Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter.
Most Egregious Misuse of Facial Hair
Washington Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson (left) defeated pal Drew Gooden of the Cleveland Cavaliers in an epic, kind-of-gross-to-look-at beard-growing contest that lasted the entire NBA season.
Geekiest Reaction to an Injury
Tom Brady’s knee injury had major implications in the fantasy world. Estimates say the Pats star’s torn ligaments could take $150 million in winnings out of the pockets of fantasy owners who selected the dreamy QB instead of a top-flight running back. Still no word on how it impacts the Dungeons & Dragons market.
Most Bizarre Hire
Ashton Kutcher: prankster, cougar lover…football coach? Last summer the actor began moonlighting as an assistant for the freshman team at L.A.’s ritzy Harvard-Westlake School. How many times a day do you think they asked him, “Dude, where’s your car?”
This season the bigs saw some big injuries. First there was Astros second baseman Kaz Matsui, who underwent surgery for an anal fissure (a tear in the lining of the lower rectum). Then Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder hit the 15-day DL with a fractured left testicle after taking a foul ball to the nuts. Commence crossing legs…now!
Hear anything about Brett Favre during the NFL off-season? No? Allow us to summarize for you:
March 6: Favre officially retires.
March 24: Favre asks the Pack’s offensive line coach if he thinks the team would take him back. Second thoughts are normal!
March 29: After the Packers happily agree to arrange for Favre’s unretirement, he says he’s not interested after all. Psych!
June 20: Commence clusterfuck. Favre calls Packers coach Mike McCarthy and says he might want to return. Seriously.
July 8: Favre is told that he can come back, but no longer as the guaranteed starter. Favre’s agent asks for Brett’s unconditional release.
July 26: McCarthy states that Aaron Rodgers will definitely be the Packers’ starting quarterback. Rodgers continues to stab his Favre voodoo doll with pins.
August 3: Favre returns to Green Bay to watch a scrimmage from a luxury box. The entire state of Wisconsin collectively orgasms.
August 6: Favre is traded to the New York Jets. Rodgers mails his Favre voodoo doll to Chad Pennington.