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: Detroit Red Wings (54-21-7, #1 Western Conference, President’s Trophy) — The ’08 Red Wings had few weaknesses to their lineup as they took down Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in six games. Detroit was led by Conn Smythe Winner Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lindstrom, and the tandem goalie pairing of Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood. 2008 marked the debut of the Winter Classic as the Penguins defeated the hosting Buffalo Sabres in a shootout at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
NBA Champion: Boston Celtics (66-16, #1 Eastern Conference) — ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!!!! The famous words were spoken by Kevin Garnett who, along with Ray Allen, had been acquired by the Celtics prior to the start of the season, instantly putting the previously struggling Celtics into contention. The Celtics won their NBA-record 17th title while reigniting their rivalry with the Lakers. The two teams would meet again in the 2010 finals as well.
World Series Champion: Philadelphia Phillies (92-70, #2 National League) — Aside from this being the only Philadelphia championship I’ve been alive for, the 2008 MLB season provided thrills for baseball fans. CC Sabathia’s move to the Brewers made the NL Central one of baseball’s best–a trait still seen today. The ’08 All Star game is one of the best I’ve seen as well with the AL taking it in extras at Old Yankee Stadium. And let’s not forget the show Josh Hamilton put on the night before in the Home Run Derby, even though he lost the event.
Super Bowl Champion: Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3, #2 NFC) — Probably one the most thrilling Super Bowls, the Steelers edged the Arizona Cardinals by the amazing catch made by Santonio Holmes late in the game. Holmes was named Super Bowl MVP as he caught nine passes for 131 yards. 2008 is notable for the season Tom Brady missed due to tearing his ACL. The Patriots won 11 games with Matt Cassell at QB but still missed the playoffs because such a large separation in records between the good and bad teams, including the 0-16 Detroit Lions.
NCAA Football National Champion: Florida Gators –Tebowmania is too much for Heisman winner Sam Bradford and the Oklahoma Sooners.
NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champion: Kansas Jayhawks — The only tournament to have all four one-seeds reach the Final Four was capped by Mario Chalmers’ shot to propel Kansas into overtime where the Jayhawks edged John Calapari’s Memphis Tigers.
Masters Champion: Trevor Immelman (1st Major)
US Open Champion: Tiger Woods (14th Major) — Currently Tiger’s last major, this win came from a playoff victory over Rocco Mediate.
British Open Champion: Padraig Harrington (2nd Major)
PGA Champion: Padraig Harrington (3rd Major)
2008 Ryder Cup: Team USA defeats Team Europe 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 — Currently the last American victory in the event.
2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China –Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt DOMINATE while the USA Men’s basketball team, “The Redeem Team,” finally brings the Gold back to the USA. Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin led the women’s gymnastics team with Liukin taking the Women’s All-Around Gold.
2008 is the top year not because of the Phillies winning. While that moment is one of the greatest in my sports-fandom, 2008 was just fantastic! The Olympics by itself could rank high on this list. Add on that Celtics team, Mario Chalmers’ shot, the Steelers/Cardinals Super Bowl (which was an awesome follow-up to the Giants’ upset the year before), Josh Hamilton, the first Winter Classic, and so many more great moments and you’ve got the top spot on our list. Thrilling, emotional, exhilarating, 2008 was phenomenal.