|INTRO | REVIEW BY SPORT | GALLERY | VOTE | LEGENDS REMEMBERED | 2002 CALENDAR|
By Mark Barden
The year 2001 will, of course, be forever remembered as the year of the devastating attacks on America.
Sport’s importance was diminished, but it subsequently became a unifying force.
And its biggest story of the year was surely that comeback.
Three years after dunking his last basket to seal a sixth NBA title for Chicago, Michael Jordan made a much-hyped return with Washington.
Many questioned the wisdom of ‘His Airness’.
At 38, would he ever be the player he once was, could he carry an ordinary Washington team, and did the NBA need him anymore?
Jordan has shown signs of his old brilliance but his knees soon began hurting, and the other Wizards were initially overawed by his presence.
And the NBA has other icons now.
Two of them, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, helped secure a second consecutive title for the Los Angeles Lakers with a 4-1 series win over Philadelphia.
The dominance of the team created by Phil Jackson, Jordan’s old coach at Chicago, looks set to continue.
One of ice hockey’s biggest names, Ray Bourque, finally lifted the Stanley Cup after 22 years as Colorado won their series against New Jersey 4-3.
Having left Boston after 21 seasons for one last shot at Stanley Cup glory, and at the age of 40, Bourque wisely decided to end his career on a high. MJ take note…
While Bourque finally achieved his dream, baseball’s most successful team lost their winning habit as the New York Yankees went down 4-3 to Arizona in a thrilling World Series.
Baseball then shot itself in the foot by declaring in November that teams would have to be shed to cut its huge losses.
By then, however, sports fans were turning their attention to the Super Bowl race.
Baltimore wrecked the pundits’ predictions by winning in 2001 with an indifferent offence but a miserly defence, seeing off the New York Giants 34-7.
The battle to win the NFL’s biggest prize will provide the first highlight of 2002.