Welcome back to the 25 for 25 Series! G-Man is turning 25 on July 23rd and to celebrate, I am counting down each of the sporting years I have been alive for. Full rules on the 25 for 25 Main Page.
Stanley Cup Champion: Boston Bruins (46-25-11, #3 Eastern Conference) — Tim Thomas and the Bruins went on a run to the Cup that featured three game-sevens (and a sweep over the Flyers) including the thrilling game seven victory over the Canucks in the Finals. Daniel Sedin of the Canucks took the Art Ross with 104 points while the Ducks’ Corey Perry sniped 50 goals to lead the league.
NBA Champion: Dallas Mavericks (57-25, #3 Western Conference) — In the first season since The Decision, Lebron James and the Miami Heat overcame mid-season growing pains and went to the Finals against the Mavericks for a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals. Blake Griffin finally made his NBA debut after missing the 2009-10 year winning Rookie of the Year while Derrick Rose won the MVP Award. A few months later the NBA would fall into a labor dispute and lock its players out.
World Series Champion: St. Louis Cardinals (90-72, NL Wild Card) — The Cardinals’ run in 2011 may be one of the exciting championship runs on this list. Game 162, both series in the NL Playoffs, and David Freese in games six and seven of the World Series and all incredibly clutch moments in sports history. Ryan Braun’s MVP has since been twice-tainted due to PED links while Justin Verlander won both MVP and Cy Young in the American League.
Super Bowl Champion: New York Giants (9-7, #4 NFC) — The 2011 season almost didn’t happen as the NFL was in a lockout for most of the summer. Once it finally unlocked, the Eagles made moves to become Vince Young’s “Dream Team;” I knew their season was over as soon as he uttered those words. 2011 featured Tebowmania which spilled into the playoffs as the Broncos downed the Steelers in the Wild Card round. Eli’s second Super Bowl win was made possible by one of the most skilled catches by Mario Manningham–ruining Tom Brady’s hopes at a fourth ring for the second time.
NCAA Football National Champion: Alabama Crimson Tide — in the infamous rematch against LSU in the BCS National Championship Game.
NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champion: Connecticut Huskies — KEMBA!
Masters Champion: Charl Schwartzel (1st Major)
US Open Champion: Rory McIlroy (1st Major)
British Open Champion: Darren Clarke (1st Major)
PGA Champion: Keegan Bradley (1st Major)
2011 was in fact a pretty great year in sports but the two lockouts hurt it in the rankings, it put a negative tone on those great moments, but let’s not dwell. I vividly remember sitting Lehigh with my roommates watching these events unfold and they’ve provided some of my favorite memories from that house. Among the rest, sitting around the TV during Game Six of the World Series may take the cake. None of us liked the Cards nor the Rangers, some didn’t even like baseball, but we were entranced. When David Freese came down to one strike in the ninth and sent the game to extras, the roof could have exploded off our house; Fall Classic indeed.