I’m gonna be blunt. 2020 has been awful for sports. Approximately two and a half months into the pandemic, every single league without exception closed its doors for the foreseeable future. When they will resume is anyone’s guess.
If you’re a sports fan, you have very little to be excited about. But there has still been a lot to celebrate this year, from the NBA season heating up to just about everything NFL-related in the age of coronavirus.
So I figured it would be fitting to close out The Turf Monster’s short-lived run by celebrating the moments in sports that made 2020 more than just a year with an asterisk. In no particular order, here are some of my personal favorite moments from the past four months.
Mike Vrabel shows Bill Belichick who’s boss
The 2020 AFC playoffs featured a beautiful moment for the NFL fandom: a fall from grace for the New England Patriots.
The specific moment I want to hone in on in the fateful matchup between Tennessee and New England is Tennessee’s coach Mike Vrabel absolutely schooling New England’s Bill Belichick strategically. Utilizing delay of game penalties to shave off a sizable chunk of the game clock in the fourth quarter as he clung to the lead, Vrabel threw a common Belichick trick right back in his face.
The Titans won the game, and with Tom Brady’s departure this offseason, New England may never achieve the same level of dominance.
LeBron James channels the late Kobe Bryant
Before the coronavirus was on anyone’s mind, the untimely passing of the legendary Kobe Bryant defined 2020 in all the wrong ways. But even in the darkest of times, the NBA’s brightest found a shred of light to illuminate the league.
Less than two weeks after his passing, Los Angeles Laker and basketball great LeBron James took a pass out of the fast break into an unguarded Houston Rockets frontcourt. The ensuing score felt like Kobe’s spirit coming down to the court for one final dunk. He performed an incredible reverse-windmill move and slammed the ball down with authority. Fans and analysts alike immediately recognized the move as something eerily similar to something Kobe had done years earlier in a 2002 match against the Kings. It was a beautiful tribute, and a fitting emotional send-off for one of basketball’s greatest.
The NFL pulls through with a draft for the ages
I wrote about this with my most recent article, so I won’t go into as much detail here. But I loved every second of the NFL’s virtual draft. From Peyton Manning’s epic speech on hope in these dark times to Roger Goodell comically slumping in his easy chair, it was a televised event to remember.
It was a reminder that sports have a future, and it’s still as bright as ever even as our stadiums sit abandoned and empty.