It’s been an interesting year in the world of sports. Over the last 12 months, there have been a number of big stories with great expectations. These stories received local and national attention.
There wasn’t a month that went by that didn’t provide the sports fan with some kind of major story. In 2011, the fans will say goodbye to a number of sports legends. The fans will remember the disappointments, trials and tribulations and the great accomplishments. There were many over the course of the year.
It’s not easy to select a list of the top 10 sports stories for the year. That’s a huge task. Nevertheless, this group of stories will touch on some of the major events that occurred this year.
The Eagles and the Phillies — The Eagles were supposed to have one of the best teams in the NFL. Owner Jeffrey Lurie and president Joe Banner went out and spent a lot of money on some of top free agents in the NFL such as Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Steve Smith, Ronnie Brown and Vince Young.
Actually, Young labeled the Eagles the “Dream Team.” Well, the team with so much promise really struggled throughout the season. They were expected to win at least 11 games. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.
The Phillies had the best pitching staff in baseball with Roy Halliday, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. They also acquired outfielder Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros. The Phillies won a historic 102 games and finished with the best team in baseball. But they were very disappointing in the playoffs. They received an early exit from the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round. Of course, the Cardinals beat everybody. They won the World Series.
Walt Hazzard — Hazzard, former Overbrook High, UCLA and NBA standout, passed away. Hazzard was 69 years old. Hazzard played with Wali Jones and Ralph Heyward at Overbrook High. They had an amazing 89-3 record during his scholastic career. In 1959, he led Overbrook to the city championship. In 1964, he guided UCLA to its first NCAA championship. He played for the legendary coach John Wooden.
NFL Lockout — It was quite a bit of labor strife in the NFL. The lockout prevented teams from having offseason conditioning programs. It took several months of negotiations to finally come up with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The lockout hurt a lot of teams who signed several free agents like the Eagles. Teams found out that they needed the OTAs (offseason training sessions) to form some kind of chemistry with their new players.
NBA Lockout — It really looked like there wasn’t going to be a NBA season. The NBA lockout lasted 149 days before the owners and the players association came to a contractual agreement. The five-month lockout saw the two sides battled over basketball related income, contract lengths, salary cap and other labor issues. The lockout didn’t conclude until December. It forced the NBA to hold a lockout-shortened season, which includes a 66-game schedule instead of the regular season 82-game schedule.
Green Bay Packers — The Green Bay Packers are coming off an impressive Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. It looks like the Packers could be headed for a repeat. So far, Green Bay has lost just one game this season. They have quarterback Aaron Rodgers who could win MVP honors.
The Philadelphia 76ers — The Sixers got new owners in 2011. Joshua Harris, co-founder of Apollo Global Management and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, along with a group of investors purchased the team from Comcast–Spectacor. According to Forbes, the Sixers were valued at $330 million.
The Sixers haven’t won a NBA championship since 1983. But the Sixers appear to be one of the up and coming teams in the league right now.
Bernard Hopkins — Hopkins got his light-heavyweight championship back from the WBC after his bout with Chad Dawson was declared a technical draw. In his fight with Dawson, Hopkins was lifted and tossed to the canvas in the second round dislocating his left shoulder. Dawson was originally awarded the title from Hopkins with a second-round TKO. But the WBC looked at the video of the fight and determined that the action was intentional in regards to lifting his body followed by Dawson pushing Hopkins which made him fall near the ropes. Hopkins injury was taken into consideration as well.
Tiger Woods — It’s been a long time since Tiger Woods has won a golf tournament. Woods has really struggled over the last two years. He put it all together winning the Chevron World Classic at Sherwood Country Club in southern California. It looks like Woods may have found his stroke as he heads into 2012.
Florida A&M drum major — The Florida A&M Marching 100 band has been known for its brilliant halftime performances at HBCU football games. FAMU has taken a big hit publicly. According to Associated Press, the Florida A&M University’s Board of Trustees recently voted to publicly reprimand the school’s president rather than place him on leave following the death of a band member in what detectives say was an incident related to hazing.
High School basketball — Four Philadelphia area high school basketball teams won PIAA state championships this season. Chester High won the Class AAAA title. Neumann–Goretti captured the Class AAA crown. Imhotep Charter snared the Class AA championship. Math, Civics and Sciences won the Class A title.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.