|INTRO | REVIEW BY SPORT | GALLERY | VOTE | LEGENDS REMEMBERED | 2001 CALENDAR|
By BBC Sport Online's Matt Slater
Finding 800 words to sum up a year that contained just about everything is not going to be easy.
From the rags-to-riches fairy tale of St Louis Rams' Kurt Warner, to the relentless predictability of the New York Yankees' multi-millionaires, 2000 lacked a cohesive theme.
But if the year lacked plot consistency, it certainly made up for it with its opening.
Having posted a 4-12 record in 1998, the Rams seemed a justifiable 200-1 long shot for January's Super Bowl at the Georgia Dome.
The off-season addition of ex-Amsterdam Admirals quarterback Warner, who had been stacking supermarket shelves, did little to suggest that the odds-makers had been over-generous.
What happened next should really only happen in Kevin Costner films.
The Rams rode Warner's arm to a 13-3 regular season record, two play-off wins and a Super Bowl date against the Tennessee Titans.
After a season like that, the Titans, of course, had no chance - although they certainly played their part in the most exciting final in memory.
In fact, it was only Mike Jones' tackle on Kevin Dyson at the One-yard line as time expired that preserved the Rams' 23-16 lead.
Warner, who had matched Dan Marino's record of 40-plus touchdowns in a season, won the Most Valuable Player award to complete the most improbable year in NFL history. Obvious, really.
But while the Rams upset the form book and rewrote records to win their first ever title, the Yankees underlined their domination of Major League Baseball by crushing local rivals the Mets to claim a 26th World Series.
In short, a Subway Series that failed to scale the heights. A highly professional, if slightly boring, Yankees side beat a game, but out-classed, Mets to win their third straight title - and a fourth in five years.
Such perfection does not come cheap, mind.
The Yankees' payroll was nearly three times the Major League average and there is no sign of any belt-tightening during the current off-season.
Newly-acquired pitcher Mike Mussina will be paid $88.5m over the next six years, and superstar shortstop Derek Jeter is due a hefty pay rise for his efforts.
Jeter, in fact, was the closest the Yankees got to exciting last year.
The 26-year-old became the first player to be named MVP of the All-Star Game and the World Series in the same year, led the Yankees in hits, batting average and runs, and started dating a former Miss India.
The Yankees, however, were not the only sports dynasty to flex their muscles during 2000.
After a decade of under-achievement, the Los Angeles Lakers picked up the franchise's 12th NBA title.
If the Rams had Warner, and the Yankees had Jeter, the Lakers' triumph was about the hottest buddy act in Tinseltown since Lewis and Martin - Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.
The dynamic duo had been brought to LA in 1996 with the express purpose of reprising the Kareem Abdul-Jabar/Magic Johnson double act that delivered five titles during the 80's.
But Bryant, the one-man highlight film, and O'Neal, the rapping man-mountain, did not hit it off immediately. It took three years.
Having been through two head coaches, three play-off disasters and frequent squabbles, Kobe and Shaq finally came to an understanding and everything else just fell into place.
With the two stars now sharing centre stage, the Lakers swept to the NBA finals against the Indiana Pacers.
Six epic games later, the Lakers had their first championship for ten years and O'Neal had a Finals MVP to add to the regular season accolade he had already picked up.
North America's fourth sport, ice hockey, provided a fourth story.
The New Jersey Devils' unlikely Stanley Cup triumph was an example of a great team ethic.
Written off when coach Robbie Ftorek quit with only eight regular season games left, the Devils moved almost unnoticed into the Stanley Cup final.
Their opponents, the Dallas Stars, had come through the tougher Western Conference play-offs, had disposed of one of the pre-season favourites - Colorado - along the way.
The Devils, however, refused to be intimidated and raced to a 3-1 advantage over the star-studded Stars.
Staring defeat in the face, Dallas hit back with a thrilling triple-overtime 1-0 win on New Jersey's ice.
Clearly tired by their game five exertions, the Devils decided to settle it in game six with a double-overtime 2-1 triumph for their second Stanley Cup in six years.
While defenseman Scott Stevens skated off with the Conn Smythe Trophy for the play-offs' MVP, the prize could have gone to any one of half a dozen from no-star New Jersey.
Of course, any end-of-year review would not be complete without a few farewells.
For this writer, the most missed will be NFL legend Dan Marino, who for all his records never picked up a championship ring, and basketball's original chairman of the boards, 'Sir' Charles Barkley.
Happy retirements to them both, and here's to an action-packed 2001.
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