2015 in sports was a fun year.
It had it all: Champions, underdog winners, dynasty clinchers, legacies set, thrilling wins, controversial moments, arrests, injuries, big-time moments, and much more.
However, 2015 was special compared to other years. I like to think of it as the year of the underdog, given all of the surprise teams and athletes we saw that shocked the sporting world.
We also saw some unimaginable moments that will be explained later on. Many sports teams also finally put an end to lengthy championship droughts, giving sports fans a lot to be excited about.
Overall, this was one of the better years in the history of sports. I personally enjoyed the combination of everything we saw in 2015. Sports fans were delighted in every way possible this year.
Of course, every year there is a new champion in leagues like the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, among others.
But there’s one FIFA Women’s World Cup every year. There are not a lot of shocking off-the-field issues with officials and players.
And young phenoms do not come over to dominate sports out of nowhere so quickly, but everything mentioned above did in fact happen.
That is why we love sports. As we enter the final days of 2015, it’s time to take a trip down memory lane and look at the 20 biggest sports stories of 2015.
It was not easy putting all of this together, but it was worth a shot. Here are the top 20 sports stories that highlighed 2015.
20. NFL Stars Ravaged by Injuries
It’s safe to say the 2015 NFL season would be a lot different if there weren’t so many injuries to superstar players.
Here’s a short recap. Two of the greatest quarterbacks in the league, Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning have combined to play 16 games this year.
Ben Roethlisberger missed four games, otherwise he’d be frontrunner for the MVP. Drew Brees missed a game. Andy Dalton broke his thumb.Tony Romo only played two full games. Joe Flacco is out for the season with a torn ACL. The Ravens also lost Terrell Suggs, Steve Smith, and Justin Forsett for the season.
Jordy Nelson tore his ACL before the season started. Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski sustained injuries. Jamaal Charles tore his ACL. Keenan Allen missed most of the season with a kidney problem.
Victor Cruz has missed nearly the entire season. Tyrann Mathieu tore his ACL. Jimmy Graham tore his patellar tendon.
The NFL has had a small minority of their top quarterbacks healthy in 2015. An unbelievable amount of offensive and defensive superstars have suffered injuries.
It’s been a huge loss in terms of entertainment for fans and teams this season.
19. New Wave of NHL Superstars
Connor McDavid was the most hyped up prospect coming into 2015 since Sidney Crosby was drafted 10 years earlier.
Aside from him, NCAA star Jack Eichel was also a can’t-miss prospect. The NHL has rarely had two prospects with so much promise in the same draft year.
McDavid has missed most of the season due to injury, while Eichel tries to come into his own. But just remember how the NHL changed in every asset when Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, two young phenoms, took the league by storm.
Once McDavid and Eichel reach their primes, the NHL will be treated to two all-time and once-in-a-generation-type superstar players.
18. Surprising MLB season
Hands up if you had the Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays in the playoffs.
Not very many did. The young Cubs and Rangers both went from worst to playoffs. The Astros narrowly made the ALCS, losing to the Kansas City Royals in five games.
The Mets won the National League and lost to the Royals in the World Series. The Blue Jays gave Kansas City a run for their money after bringing playoff baseball back to Toronto for the first time in 22 years.
Though no one was shocked when the Royals won the World Series, fans were treated to seeing so many incredible underdog stories in one postseason.
17. Warriors Make History
The Golden State Warriors are defending NBA champions, but are also on track to be the best single-season team in league history.
Stephen Curry started off better than Michael Jordan’s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls dream team in almost every meaningful stat.
The Warriors started out 24-0, with the previous best being 15-0. The Warriors also set the best start to a season by a major professional sports team in the country. The previous record lasted 131 years (St. Louis Maroons baseball).
30 straight home wins, dating back to last season, isn’t a joke. Even though they haven’t won anything yet in 2015-16, their ridiculous start has been something else for NBA fans to see.
16. Aaron Hernandez Found Guilty
The former New England Patriots’ star tight end was arrested and charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd in the summer of 2013.
Nearly two years later, he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison, where he will remain behind bars the rest of his life.
Hernandez is still set to stand trial for a 2012 double homicide in Boston. To see a young superstar fall from grace in the most unimaginable way is surely a tragedy to the NFL and its fans.
15. Ronda Rousey Rises…and Falls
Rousey took the UFC by storm in 2015 by emerging as the top face of the company. Everyone was amazed at how quickly and easily she won any of her fights.
Rousey was finishing off opponents in the first round, but she ended up being upset big time by Holly Holm, who knocked her out in the second round at UFC 193.
Though Rousey still has a long career ahead of her, everyone was shocked to see the seemingly invincible star get dominated in a fight she was supposed to win easily.
14. Duke(s) of Hazard
Coach K did it again.
Duke defeated Wisconsin in the 2015 Men’s NCAA Basketball championship game, 68-63. Mike Krzyzewski won his fifth title as his fourth-ranked squad capped off an amazing 2014-15 season.
A ridiculous 35-4 record brought home the title for Duke, their first in five years, brining the title and pride back to the storied University.
13. Djokovic and Serena Williams Miss Out on Grand Slams
Nova Djovokic and Serena Williams are both at the top of the ATP hierarchy as the two most dominant stars in their sport.
Djovokic enjoyed the finest season of his career, winning all three major championships except the French Open, losing to Stan Wawrinka.
Williams wasn’t much different than Djokovic. She fell just short of a major championship, claiming all three titles but lost in the semi finals during the U.S. Open.
Still, both players dominated the sport of tennis in 2015. Their legacies aren’t harmed in any way. But falling just short of the Grand Slam is a major storyline.
12. Kobe Bryant’s Final Ride
Kobe Bryant will retire as a top-five superstar in NBA history. The five-time NBA Champion has been a joy to watch.
Unfortunately for him, his body is breaking down and he wisely announced recently that 2015-16 would be his last season.
Though he’s not even close to being half the star he was for more than a decade, the league will not be the same when his final ride hits the last stop.
11. Deflategate Scandal
Tom Brady was suspended for four games in his alleged involvement in the infamous Deflategate Scandal, where numerous footballs in the AFC Championship Game in New England were found to be deflated.
The Patriots were embarrassed with more allegations of cheating after Spygate from seven years before.
The NFL and Roger Goodell were more embarrassed when Tom Brady went to court to fight his suspension, which was nullified.
This story will not go away. The NFL is appealing their case which goes to court again in 2016. But from all of this, the Patriots dynasty definitely took a hit with another cheating scandal hovering over their bright clouds.
10. Gold Mining in Canada
USA’s Women’s Soccer Team made it look easy.
They won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Vancouver, Canada, exacting revenge on Japan from the previous tournament by beating them 5-2.
It was their first title since 1999 during the infamous shootout win against China. The dominant squad was long overdue for a title, and they finally pulled through.
Winning it for Abby Wambach in her final year of soccer was also a fine story to go along with their triumphant victory.
9. Ohio State’s NCAA Football Championship
The Ohio State Buckeyes won the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship in 2015.
Finishing fourth in rankings, they took down number-one ranked Alabama before crushing the Oregon Ducks, 42-20 in the Championship Game, thanks to four touchdowns from Ezekiel Elliot.
Another underdog story come true as Oregon were expected to walk away with this game.
8. Dream Boxing Match
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao was the top boxing match every fan wanted to see in 2015, and they got it.
The match didn’t exactly live up to the hype, considering Pacquiao claimed to not have been fully healthy in that one.
Though Mayweather won by unanimous decision, it was great for fans to finally see the matchup they had been dreaming about.
Mayweather moved to 49-0, taking down a legend as he finishes up his incredible career.
7. Run the Ball!
Perhaps the most dumbfounding play call in Super Bowl history, Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson know deep down they won’t get over this.
Not much is needed to say here. Wilson isn’t your Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers-type passing quarterback.
However, Marshawn Lynch is the toughest running back to tackle. All they had to do was feed him the ball three times (at most) to gain one yard.
The ill-advised throwing play went right into Malcolm Butler’s hands in the final seconds to give the Patriots their fourth Super Bowl while denying Seattle a repeat.
6. NFL Officiating Controversies
The NFL is at an all-time problem with the ridiculous amounts of officiating controversies, dating back to the 2015 playoffs.
The infamous picked up flag during the Detroit Lions showdown with the Dallas Cowboys breathed new life into “America’s Team,” which helped them win the game.
Then there was Dez Bryant’s no-catch in the Divisional Round at Green Bay, which should have given Dallas a lead with just minutes remaining at Lambeau Field.
The refs have missed a ridiculous amount of penalties AND have called penalties that don’t exist (see Jaguars vs. Ravens finish earlier this season).
The NFL has had to promise officiating changes in the playoffs, because the reffing has gotten so out of control.
Hopefully, we’ll have a fair winner in 2016.
5. Jordan Spieth Rises
Jordan Spieth has already cemented his legacy. At 22 years old.
He won the Master’s at the age of 21, something that nobody could have seen coming. He followed it up with a U.S. Open victory, shooting five under to win.
Spieth has his best years ahead of him and already has two major championships. The sky is the limit for the young golfer to add to his immortal collection.
4. Chicago Blackhawks Dynasty
No one was shocked when the Chicago Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup in six seasons.
But just years ago, no one could have predicted a team to win the Stanley Cup in the salary cap era.
But that they did. General Manager Stan Bowman rebuilt three completely different squads to capture titles in 2010, 2013 and 2015.
The ‘Hawks had to start the playoffs on the road in three of their four series’, and defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup in six games.
Chicago became the first dynasty since the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s, who won their last title in 1990.
It’s just amazing how this team continues to dominate in a league that’s designed to ensure that the best teams can’t keep winning.
But the ‘Hawks do, no matter how many superstars have had to go because of the cap rules.
3. A Royal(s) Champion
The Kansas City Royals won their first World Series in 30 years, erasing the heartbreak of their seven-game loss to the San Francisco Giants a year before.
The Royals were the comeback kings of the playoffs, erasing a 4-1 deficit against Houston in Game 4 in a must-win game to save their season.
After finishing off Houston, Kansas City shut down the Toronto Blue Jays’ high-powered offense in six games, thanks to a key comeback in Game 2.
They took down the New York Mets in five games, erasing a two-run deficit in the ninth inning before winning in extras to clinch the World Series.
2. Gold(en) State
The Warriors snapped their 40-year championship drought when they crowned over “The King,” LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers in six games.
Stephen Curry emerged as the new face of the NBA as the Warriors rolled to a 67-15 regular season.
The Warriors beat New Orleans, Memphis and Houston before finally winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy once again.
1. FIFA Corruption
The worst nightmare for sports fans existed.
I hate having to put this as number one, as I take away recognition for the many teams and athletes that won championships in 2015.
But no one could have expected that the biggest sports organization in the world had a dirty secret.
A very big secret, that is.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, so it’s sad to imagine that 18 individuals (nine of which were officials), would be indicted.
To have officials be guilty of bribery and corruption has damaged the sport big time. How long has this been going on for? What else is FIFA getting away with?
FIFA President Sepp Blatter was forced to resign and will be suspended for eight years before he can be be involved in FIFA again.
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