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: Los Angeles Kings (46-28-8, #3 Pacific Division) — The 2013 playoffs provided the thrills we had been missing from the lockout and 2014 was able to build on top of that. The Rangers set the record for number of games played before reaching the finals with 20 when they won the Eastern Conference Finals over the Canadiens and the Kings broke that record the very next night when they edged the Blackhawks in the West. The Final may have only lasted five games but it was still just as thrilling. Alex Ovechkin won the goal-scoring title while Sydney Crosby led the league in points in 2014 as we saw the debut of the new four-division allignment of the NHL–and the unfortunately named “Metropolitan Division.”
NBA Champion: San Antonio Spurs (62-20, #1 Western Conference) — The 2014 Spurs were a team on a mission. After Ray Allen’s clutch shooting in the 2013 Finals, the Spurs missed out on the title. San Antonio marched through the 2013-14 campaign almost as if they were expecting their rematch with the Heat, and rematch we got. Many were expecting another long, seven-game series, but Tim Duncan and company weren’t letting that happen. The Spurs unleashed defensive powerhouse, and 2014 Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, who shutdown Miami en route to winning the series in five games. Pretty much everybody was unaware, but that would be Lebron’s final series in a Heat uniform as the superstar decided to return to Cleveland over that summer writing a heartfelt essay to Sports Illustrated.
World Series Champion: San Francisco Giants (88-74, 2nd NL Wild Card) — The 2014 World Series featured two historic storylines coming face-to-face. The Kansas City Royals were making their first playoff appearance since their 1985 championship while the Giants were riding the historic performance of ace Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner’s frequency and dominance may be one of the greates playoff performances we’ll ever see–baseball or otherwise.
Super Bowl Champion: New England Patriots (12-4, #1 AFC) — The Patriots may have alledgedly deflated their footballs but even when they we’re this was a great team. Everyone had discounted them after a few weeks with the team coming out slow, but Tom Brady and company turned it around quickly. Super Bowl XLIX will be remembered for Malcolm Butler’s interception of Russell Wilson at the very end of the game, but it was of the best and most excited games I’ve seen.
NCAA Football National Champion: Ohio State Buckeyes — The Buckeyes won the first College Football Playoff downing top-seeded Alabama in the semifinal and two-seeded Oregon in the National Championship Game.
NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champion: Connecticut Huskies
Masters Champion: Bubba Watson (2nd Major)
US Open Champion: Martin Kaymer (2nd Major)
British Open Champion: Rory McIlroy (3rd Major)
PGA Champion: Rory McIlroy (4th Major)
Ryder Cup: Europe defeats USA 16 1/2 to 11 1/2
FIFA World Cup Champion (in Brazil): Germany
Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia
2014’s moments may be the most recent in my memory but they were great nonetheless. From T.J. “Sochi” to World Cup Mania to MadBum’s dominance to Butler’s pick, 2014 did not disappoint. Seeing Rory win twice in a thrilling fashion makes up for Bubba and Martin Kaymer run away with the Masters and U.S. Open titles. The College Football Playoff coming into place in 2014 was a change that needed to come for a long time. Even though I’m not the biggest OSU fan, the fact that the four-seed won the whole thing in its first year proves that the system works and it’ll be exciting to see how it continues to grow.