As the year comes to a close, I thought it was time to look back at my favorite sports moments in South Florida this past year. I considered opening it up to top moments in the entire Sunshine State, but other than the Seminoles success this season, there’s not much happening north of the Broward County lines. (in my opinion) So here’s what made my toes curl in 2013.
#5 Dolphins Defeat Patriots
After an impressive 3-0 start to this NFL season, Fins fans finally had something to boast about. But after dropping 4 straight, the questions began, will Miami make the postseason?
On December 15th, the division leading New England Patriots came to town, and the Dolphins secured a 24-20 win thanks to an interception by Michael Thomas, with 2 seconds remaining in the game. This was a big “W” for the Dolphins, as they snapped a streak of seven consecutive losses to the Patriots, and prevented New England from clinching their 5th AFC East title.
Alas, the Fins did not make the playoffs this season, thanks to the J-E-T-S Jets. The last time Miami won a postseason contest was in 2000 versus the Colts in OT. Here’s to next year…maybe Ross will get it right this time?
#4 Diana Nyad Triumphs in Historic Swim
You can’t have a list of top sports moments without including female athletes, who are just as talented as their male counterparts, yet rarely celebrated. Swimmer Diana Nyad really does epitomize the word champion, and stunned the world with her perseverance and iron will. The 64 year old finally completed the 110 mile journey, swimming for 53 hours in open water from Havana, Cuba to Key West, FL. This was her fifth attempt in 35 years, and she is the only person to ever accomplish this feat.
After the historic swim, though exhausted, sunburned and swollen from jellyfish stings, Nyad spoke happily to reporters. “I got three messages. One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.”
Words for us all to live by in 2014.
#3 Back to Back Champs
Couldn’t we really do a Top 100 of the Miami HEAT’s 2012-13 season. Where to begin….Lebron’s epic dunk over JT that spawned Terry’s death on Wikipedia? A 27-game win streak? The Harlem Shake video? Beating the pesky Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals? The list goes on and on..and it’s hard to choose just one moment. But winning back to back titles is pretty sweet.
How lucky is the city of Miami to witness four NBA Finals in the past seven years, and gain three NBA titles? I still get goosebumps looking at the above photo. And the giggles when I watch this…
Here’s an animated version by Rob Cabrera of Creative Squirrels.
#2 Jose is ROY
I don’t care what you feel about Jeffrey Loria. If you are not coming to Miami Marlins games to watch Jose Fernandez pitch live and in person…you are missing out. Big time. An extraordinary backstory which includes three failed defection attempts from Cuba, before finally arriving in the US in 2008? Check. An enigmatic smile with a larger than life personality? Check. And a guy with a heart of gold who truly cares for everyone he meets. Check.
Truly superb though, was what Jose Fernandez was able to accomplish in his debut season. With 12 wins and a 2.19 ERA, he accrued 187 strikeouts for the last place Marlins this season. Jose started 18 games for Miami, and was the 2nd youngest player to be named to an All-Star Game, where he pitched a perfect inning with two strikeouts. Fernandez received 26 of the 30 first-place votes and beat out Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, to become the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year. He is only the third Cuban player to ever be named ROY.
To be fair, a fellow Floridian outfielder, Wil Myers of the Rays’ was awarded the AL Rookie of the Year. So I guess I was wrong, there are some other good (sports) eggs in the northern part of the state!
#1 The Shot
I’m assuming that everyone who is reading this does not need further explanation. If you watched the 2013 NBA Finals, you will never forget this moment. Call him Clutch, Shuttlesworth, Jesus or Ray. But for HEAT Nation, Ray Allen will forever be remembered as the man that salvaged the Miami HEAT’s Championship dreams in 2013.
With the Spurs up 3 points in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, and just :09 seconds remaining…somehow Ray Allen made the biggest three pointer in Miami HEAT history. No it wasn’t a game winner. But with the yellow ropes rising, and David Stern about to crown the San Antonio Spurs champions, The Shot sent the game to overtime.
On media day I joked with Ray and said, “so let’s talk about the shot.” He rolled his eyes and shook his head, (knowing I was kidding) and replied, “You know what, nobody has asked me one single question about Game 7.” That’s because without the shot, there never would have been a Game 7.
This has been a truly remarkable run for the Miami HEAT, and great time to be a part of the South Florida landscape. Here’s hoping 2014 brings a brighter future for our other pro teams!
It would be very easy to do a top 5 cringe-worthy moment post as well…any suggestions? I’m guessing Incognito would be up there…let me know your thoughts in the comments below!