What Was the Greatest Sports Moment of 2011?

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Was it the Heat flaming out in the NBA Finals? David Freese's performance in the World Series? A 22-year-old golf phenom's win at the U.S. Open?

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Every week, our panel of sports fans discusses a topic of the moment. For today's conversation, Emma Carmichael (writer, Deadspin), Patrick Hruby (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), and Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic) look back on the year in sports.


Hey, guys,

We're just days away from a new year, and we're lucky to have a good one in sports behind us, as the world may end in just a few short months (according to the very nice man who stands at my subway entrance most mornings). If the end is nigh, then we may as well join in with the rest of the Internet and commemorate the year we've had. Let's shy away from the lists, though, and simply share our single favorite moments from oh-eleven, which all started when the Green Bay Packers beat the Steelers to win Super Bowl XLV. Doesn't it feel like just yesterday that the world united behind mutual hate for the Black Eyed Peas?

It didn't quite rival how we all seemed to react to LeBron James, though. James's year drew me in in part, I think, because he was just so clearly and simply The Bad Guy. Our obsession with Tim Tebow was and is fascinating, but it's also rather overwrought. The case against LeBron was never so complicated. We could hate LeBron because he'd made a despicable TV special and had left his home state's team behind in favor of Miami, and a better-packaged shot at winning an NBA title.

But, of course, he didn't pull it off in his first season there. That's a big part of the reason, I think, that the NBA playoffs did so well this year, and continued to live up to the hype. Everyone—even the villain himself—knew who the game's villain was, and we all knew how we wanted it to end. When the Heat lost to the Mavericks in six games and James continued to fold in the fourth quarter, we all got our happy ending. It was a pleasure to watch, even if the final line was only temporary—six months removed from that loss, James and the Heat now look like the bad guys who'll spoil our narratives. They're going to win in 2012, and we're all going to secretly love it.

That was my favorite storyline of the last year on earth. What was yours, Patrick?

–Emma

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Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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