With the year coming to an end, we take a look back on some of the biggest sports headlines from 2021.
In any given year, there will always be a ton of stories that take over the mainstream conversation, whether it be in politics, entertainment, or even sports. Thanks to events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics, there are always a plethora of sports stories to pull from on a yearly basis. These stories can involve players, teams, scandals, or any sort of event that one might deem as newsworthy. 2021 has been no exception.
This year has provided us with some truly fascinating stories that speak to the essence of sports. From personal achievements to massive sporting events, and unfortunately, to tragedies, 2021 has been a busy year in the sports world. That’s why we have constructed this list, to provide you with some of the biggest headlines of the last year, just in case you may have missed some of them.
Naomi Osaka Vs. The Media
During this year’s French Open, Naomi Osaka decided to take a stand against the media, with who she had a relatively contentious relationship, up until that point. Her decision to not speak with the media was not received well at all, and it led to a huge fallout that caused her to withdraw from the tournament. Eventually, she withdrew from Wimbledon for mental health reasons, and from there, she became a huge advocate for athletes around the world. While the media still takes its shots at her from time to time, there is no doubt that Osaka has opened up a larger discussion about how athletes are treated by reporters, especially in vulnerable moments.
Henry Ruggs III Car Accident
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Perhaps one of the more devastating and somber stories of the year came from Henry Ruggs III of the Las Vegas Raiders. The NFL star killed a 23-year-old woman and her dog in a drunk driving incident that saw Ruggs speeding at around 156 MPH. It was a story that shocked many in the football world, and it remains yet another example of how drunk driving can kill innocent people. With all of the charges laid out against Ruggs, he is looking at upwards of 50 years in jail, and at this point, it is safe to say that his football career is over.
Bubba Wallace Wins First NASCAR Cup Series Race
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Bubba Wallace’s NASCAR journey has been an interesting one, especially given his status as the only black driver in the Cup Series, which is the highest level of the sport. Last year, Wallace was embroiled in a controversy at Talladega, his home track, after a noose was found in his garage. It was eventually revealed to be a garage pull, and the blowback from the incident had some fans feeling polarized. Now, with Michael Jordan‘s funding behind him, Wallace was able to have the best season of his career, and he even won his first career race, at Talladega of all places. It was the first time in nearly 60 years that a black driver had won a race, and it was a huge achievement for the NASCAR star.
The Tokyo Olympics
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The Summer Games in Tokyo were supposed to take place in 2020. Unfortunately, COVID-19 had other plans, forcing the games to take place this past Summer. Despite all of the warnings that the games should not take place, they actually went off without a hitch. Every single sporting event went on as planned, and while the crowd may have not been present, that didn’t take away from all of the great moments we saw. From Simone Biles to the United States Men’s National Basketball Team, there were plenty of reasons to be excited about the Olympics this year.
LeBron James Releases Space Jam: A New Legacy
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LeBron James is one of if not the biggest athlete in the world. Everything he does is going to get attention from the mainstream media, and that was certainly the case with Space Jam: A New Legacy. This was the first time that LeBron got to be the star of a movie, and it was only fitting that it was in the sequel to a movie that Michael Jordan made famous in the 90s. After all, LeBron is this generation’s MJ, and it was only a matter of time before he got his own Space Jam. Of course, the reactions to this movie were polarizing, but the entire rollout was a massive event, and it was cool to see LeBron go Hollywood like this.
Jon Gruden’s E-Mails Leaked
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Jon Gruden got himself into some hot water this year as an investigation in the Washington Football Team revealed correspondences that Gruden had with executives on the team back in 2011. The Las Vegas Raiders head coach had used racist, sexist, and homophobic language in these e-mails, while also reportedly calling commissioner Roger Goodell a “f*****.” This ultimately got Gruden fired from his position on the team, and now, he is suing the NFL as he believes he was unfairly targeted by the investigation. At this stage, Gruden is blackballed from the league, and he is doing everything in his power to get some financial compensation. This is one of those stories that could extend until 2022 and maybe even 2023, so stay tuned for all of the latest updates on that.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Wins His First NBA Title
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Giannis Antetokounmpo had a lot of pressure on his shoulders last season as he went into the year as the defending two-time MVP. Fans wanted to see him get it done in the playoffs, and that is exactly what he did as he led his Bucks to the NBA title. Antetokounmpo was lights out in the Finals and he even scored 50 points in the close-out game against the Phoenix Suns. It was an extraordinary performance that cemented Giannis as one of the best big men to ever play the game. In his young career, Giannis already has an incredible resume, and it can’t be overstated what he means to the city of Milwaukee and the entire state of Wisconsin. Anytime a player showcases his sort of dominance, it is always going to be a big story, especially when they do it on the biggest stage.
Ben Simmons Vs. The Philadelphia 76ers
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Ben Simmons has been roasted throughout his career for not knowing how to shoot the basketball. Despite this, he has always been an effective player who can dominate the floor on any given night. Unfortunately, during this year’s NBA Playoffs, things took a turn for the worse as Simmons was nowhere to be found against the Atlanta Hawks. Simmons was looking timid at the rim and when the Sixers lost Game 7 of the series, fans immediately turned on Simmons. Many took to the streets to demand Simmons be traded, and it clearly got to the star, as he is now refusing to play for the team. He has no interest in returning to the floor, and at the time of writing this, the Sixers are desperately looking for trade partners. It’s been a messy divorce, and the Sixers are going to need to get it over with before things get worse than they already are.
Tom Brady Wins His 7th Super Bowl
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Going into his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, no one expected Tom Brady to win the Super Bowl. After all, he went into the season as a 43-year-old who was showing he was on the decline in New England. In the end, however, a change of scenery is exactly what Brady needed. The quarterback had a rough start but eventually turned it on in the second half of the year before putting up dominant performances in the playoffs. After making it to his 10th Super Bowl, Brady and the Buccaneers were able to blow out the Kansas City Chiefs, which helped give Brady his seventh Super Bowl title. It was a truly impressive feat and yet another example of why Tom Brady is the undisputed GOAT of football.
Kyrie Irving Refuses The COVID-19 Vaccine
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Easily the biggest story of the year has been Kyrie Irving’s refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Irving is one of the best point guards in the league, and when he is healthy, the Brooklyn Nets are immediate contenders. Even without him, the Nets are first place in the Eastern Conference, which just goes to show how stacked he makes the Nets. Unfortunately, however, his teammates have been left in the dust as Kyrie is committed to taking a stand against the vaccine. Due to all of the mandates in New York City, Kyrie is not allowed to play without the vaccine, and while he could play away games, the Nets simply do not want him to be a part-time player. This story has led to numerous debates about Kyrie’s actions and whether or not they are selfish, or justified. It’s been the biggest story of the NBA season so far, and with COVID-19 being a global issue, it’s clear that Kyrie’s actions have led to a large-scale discussion that will last well into 2022.