2018, like every other year, has been one of cheers and woes, and in the world of sports, it’s no different. The year 2018 saw its fair share of ups and downs, with moments that had people, either applauding in awe or shaking their heads in disgust.
Many moves were made and a few records broken, some iconic moments (that will stay in our hearts forever) were created alongside some villainous moments which we hope to forget as soon as possible.
Ynaija brings you some of our favourite moments in sports this year. But before we commence, here are some worthy moments that didn’t make it on the list, but could have.
Baker Mayfield joins the Cleveland Browns. Arike Ogunnbowale drills two buzzer beaters to secure a national title. Roman Reigns battles leukemia. Philadelphia Eagles wins the Super Bowl. Fourteen junior hockey players die in auto crash. France and Croatia finish first and second respectively at the World Cup. Drew Brees breaks Manning Payton’s passing record. Ronda Rousey joins the WWE.
Larry Nassar sentenced to 40-175 years for sexual assault
Justice for dozens of female gymnasts was served this year following Larry Nassar’s conviction. In a series of court proceedings, former US Olympics gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar was finally convicted of serial sexual assault, after a number of gymnasts including underage girls testified that Nassar used his platform as a doctor, to take advantage of them. It was shocking the accusations that were laid against Nassar, but what took us by storm was the sheer number of girls that testified against him, a number somewhere around 156.
Mexico offsets Germany at the World Cup
Many pundits had predicted that defending champions, Germany will roll over their opponents, Mexico in their group stage match. However, the tale was different as the Mexicans pulled off a 1-0 victory, the first of two defeats the German Machines suffered at the competition.
President of France Emmanuel Macron, pictured with Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This picture needs little explanation. It simply is as it presents itself, a heartwarming picture of a couple of world leaders setting aside pride and tension to appreciate the 2018 World Cup final match between France and Croatia, held at the Luzhniki Stadium Moscow, Russia.
Philadelphia 76ers celebrate too early
Foolishness or over excitement? You decide. In Game Three of the Eastern Conference semi finals, NBA playoffs, the Philadelphia 76ers faced off against the Boston Celtics.
In the final seconds of the game, the 76ers were down two points and needed to score either a two-point shot to tie the game, sending it to overtime or hit a three-pointer to win the game. Fortunately, with literally two seconds to go, 76ers shooting guard Marco Belinelli managed to shoot a last-second shot, which was initially thought to have been shot outside the three-point arc, making it a three-point shot, which would automatically entail a 1 point win against their opponent. This got the crowd excited and apparently the confetti guy too. Thinking they had won the game, the confetti guy let loose the confetti, but upon further review, the referees ruled the game a draw, Belinelli’s shot was a two-pointer, not a three-pointer. This was devastating as the basketball court had to be cleaned before the game went into overtime. In OT, it was clear that the early celebration had taken a mental toll on the 76ers players and they ended up losing the game to the Celtics.
Unified Korea for the Winter Olympics
Ever thought you would see South Korea and North Korea get along? Me neither. But owing to the Winter Olympics which held in PyeongChang South Korea, the two rival nations were able to set aside their differences and come together to host and enjoy the beauty that of the tournament. This move proved yet again that nothing brings people closer together than sports.
JR Smith’s NBA finals blunder
For those not so conversant with basketball, here’s a quick rundown. The man in question, the shooting guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers, has the nickname pipe god, JR smash, Henny master, and JR Henny. The Henny serves as a shortened version of the popular alcoholic drink, Hennessy. He was given this nickname owing to his dipsomaniac lifestyle and love for alcohol. Formerly a New York boy, JR Smith is no stranger to excessive clubbing and impulsive drinking, sometimes even before major games and in the NBA finals between defending champions, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, JR Smith made a last-minute blunder where he failed to shoot a free shot that would have won his team the game, instead he dribbled the ball out thinking that the game was already won. It is unclear if his actions were as a result of alcohol influence or if he simply made an honest mistake, regardless, the NBA fans have surely decided to blame it on the Henny.
The game went into overtime and his team ended up losing, and ultimately they lost 4-0 in the seven-game series.
As usual, the internet trolled him, making JR Henny trend for days.
Luka Modrić breaks Ronaldo and Messi’s decade-long Ballon D’or streak
This feat in itself needs no explanation. For the past decade, the highly coveted Ballon d’Or has rotated between current Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo and longtime Barcelona player Lionel Messi, but this year had a new winner – Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder – Luka Modrić.
Fury rises after Wilder’s “knockout” punch
The heavyweight championship match between WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, was an all-round fierce battle between the pair. Through the twelve rounds, Fury had a slight edge over Wilder as he had landed more punches, but in the twelfth and final round, Fury received a clean hit from boxing’s strongest puncher, Wilder which should have knocked him out. He somehow miraculously got up and wilder Wmmediately followed it up with another punch, and again, Fury got up, before the round came to an end.
The match ended in a draw, but many are of the opinion that Fury should have won.
Nike endorses Colin Kaepernick
Biggest sports brand, Nike teamed up with National Football League player Colin Kaepernick. If the name rings a bell, it’s for good reason, this is the athlete who challenged the American system and lost his job for it. He had the whole world talking about his heroic act of defilement. And this year, Nike decided to show him in their support by making him their poster boy in an ad which would later be one of the highest trending ad of the year, earning Nike $6 billion in revenue.
Serena Williams’s outburst
There was a bit of a controversy in the US Open finals match between Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, owing to some calls made by the umpire, Carlos Ramos, against Serena, which were initially thought to be questionable. And in the heat of the moment, Serena got emotional and accused the ref of sexism and being a thief. This created a huge spur, bringing the whole game to a halt. The incident was later investigated and Ramos was vindicated while Serena accused of overreacting.
Tiger Woods wins another title
Right off the bat, this headline doesn’t seem like a big deal. Tiger Woods winning a title shouldn’t come as a surprise, he is, after all, the best golfer of our generation and arguably the greatest golfer of all time, so it should come as no surprise that he won another PGA, right?
Well, it is not his victory at the PGA’s that put him on this list, it is how he became victorious. In one of the greatest comeback stories in sports history, Woods overcame several adversities, such as rehab, injuries and a controversial divorce, among other things, to win a championship after a five-year drought, at an age believed to be too old to still remain relevant. Also, the legion of supporters he had behind him as he pulled off the win at the East Lake Golf Course was awe-inspiring, and against all odds, he didn’t disappoint them.
Conor McGregor taps to Khabib Nurmagomedov
Arguably one of the biggest fights of the year, Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, battled in a four round MMA match, where Conor ended up tapping to Khabib. You know it’s a big fight when the fight is practically for the pride of their nation and the defense of religion. In a press conference, Conor attacked Khabib’s religion, father and country, calling Khabib’s friend a terrorist, and in that moment, the fight became bigger than just a UFC fight.
On one side the people of Ireland were heavily invested in the fight, rooting for their countryman Conor, while the Russians did not fail to match Ireland’s enthusiasm. Both men laid it all on the line and at the end of it Khabib came out victorious, forcing Conor to concede defeat.
At the end of the fight, tempers flared and more offensive words were spoken, Khabib jumped out of the cage to attack one of Conor’s boys, and of course, some of Khabib’s boys jumped into the cage to attack Conor, which led to an all-out brawl between both fighters camp. The UFC security and the Nevada Police Force had to step in before calm was finally restored. A few arrests were made, mostly consisting of Khabib’s men.
The gross misconduct trended for days and brought the UFC and the world of combat sports into an ugly light which eventually angered the Nevada (the city where the fight held) Fighting Commission, and they had no choice but to punish both fighters.
Days after the match Russian President, Vladimir Putin had a sit down with Khabib and his father to congratulate him on his victory.
It is hard to argue that this was one of the bittersweet moments in sports history.
LeBron James moves to LA
Since moving to Los Angeles, it has been no where but up for the Lakers. As expected LeBron, brought the LeBron effect to the LA Lakers. Where to begin? First off, LeBron’s LA jersey quickly became the highest selling Jersey in the league. He partnered with HBO, to create his own show, The Shop, an interview show which has featured some big name guest like Drake, Ice Cube and Odell Beckman JR.
He also built a state of the art school named “I Promise” for less fortunate kids that cannot afford an education. The school is said to be completely free, tuition, books, transportation and even feeding, are all free.
Asides external projects, LeBron somehow managed to lift a bottom four team to literally a top four team in the space of two months. Tickets revenue has increased significantly. His debut game ticket sold for as high as $545, as opposed to $60, the previous year. An 800% increase. His picture is the official poster for the Staples Center in Los Angeles and he is the primary endorser of Beats by Dre.
Cristiano Ronaldo pivots to Juventus
In a bold move, Cristiano Ronaldo left the Spanish La Liga for the Serie A. He did this in a bid to solidify his career. Since moving to Juventus, several football stations that didn’t feature Serie A matches have picked up Serie A games again. His value increased the value of his teammates, making their average annual salary jump to 7.8 million euros. Tickets revenue for Juventus increased a whopping 50%. His debut game had 2.3 million viewers in Italy alone, and attendance for Juventus games have increased 68%. And of course the team experienced a significant rise in jersey sales. Particularly the number 7 jersey.