Brittney Griner of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury is detained and arrested on smuggling charges, tried and sentenced by Russian customs officials after cartridges containing less than a gram of medically prescribed hash oil were found in her luggage. A long superpowers diplomacy resulted in her release from prison in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Qatar hosted the first-ever Middle East-based World Cup. Despite a number of wrongful immigrant construction deaths and major LGBTQ protests, the Cup was staged successfully as Argentina beat France to win the prestigious title.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games with its record 109 events is hit with controversy as a 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva is detected having taken a banned substance. The favorite in the Ladies Singles gold had to settle for a fourth place finish.
The Saudi-funded LIV Golf Tour nabs Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith and other notables through million-dollar deals yet endures the wrath of PGA Tour management and stars Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods for raiding the PGA’s ranks. Lawsuits ensued.
Aaron Judge of the NY Yankees breaks Roger Maris’s 61-year-old American League record of 61 home runs by hitting No. 62 on the final weekend of the regular season.
The Georgia Bulldogs won their third college football national championship with a 38-15 trouncing of the Alabama Crimson Tide at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis. Georgia had to defeat the Michigan Wolverines in the semifinals 34-11 in the Orange Bowl while Alabama beat the Cincinnati Bearcats 27-6 in the Cotton Bowl.
After placing a disappointing fifth at the 2018 Winter Games, U.S. figure skater Nathan Chen set an Olympic short program record (113.97 points) and landed five quad jumps in the long program to win Beijing gold. With 500-meter speedskating gold, Erin Jackson reestablished the U.S. in a sport it hadn’t won since 2002 – and started her own legacy as the first Black woman to win individual winter gold.
Kansas, down 15 at halftime, launched the largest comeback in NCAA Finals history, outscoring UNC 31-10 to start the second half. The 72-69 win handed Kansas its fourth national title, and first since 2008.
Retirements rocked the sports world in ’22 as Sue Bird (WNBA), Roger Federer (tennis), Mike Krzyzewski (college hoops), Ben Roethlisberger (NFL), J.J. Watt (NFL) Shaun White (snowboarding) and Serena Williams (tennis) hung up their careers.
80-1 longshot Rich Strike won the Run for the Roses in Louisville. It was the second-largest underdog horse to win the Kentucky Derby.
Scottie Scheffler, the only golfer to play every round under par at Augusta, finished 10-under to win his first major championship and retain his No. 1 world ranking. Tiger Woods returned to thrill the gallery with a 1-under first round, his first official round since nearly losing his right leg in a car crash in November 2021. Woods would finish 13-over, in 47th place.
Dusty Baker, 73, became the oldest manager or head coach in professional sports to win a major title. Ex-Detroit Tiger Justin Verlander won his second ring as the Houston Astros bested the Philadelphia Phillies, 4 games to 2.
The Golden State Warriors (three seed) shock the NBA world by winning the championship in six games over the Boston Celtics. Finals MVP Steph Curry averaged 31 points per game. It’s now four titles for the Warriors during their dynasty run.
The Colorado Avalanche regained glory by winning their first Stanley Cup in 21 seasons, 4 games to 2, over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Defenseman Cale Makar wins Conn Smythe (MVP) trophy.
Detroit DH Miguel Cabrera singled against Colorado for hit No. 3,000 and a likely ticket to Cooperstown. St. Louis DH Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run joining Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds in the “700 Club.”
Novak Djokovic won his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title, and seventh overall, leaving him one shy of Roger Federer’s record career total.
With a 5-1 win over Oakland, LA Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani pushed his record to 10-7 to become the first player with at least 10 wins and 10 home runs since Babe Ruth went 13-8 with 11 homers in 1918. He went 15-9 with 34 dingers in ’22.
With win No. 1,336, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich broke the NBA record held by Don Nelson, his onetime boss at Golden State. In 26 years, Pop has won five titles and three Coach of the Year honors.
With clutch as their new coach, Las Vegas Aces won its first WNBA title (3 games to 2) over the Connecticut Sun thus making Becky Hammon the first former WNBA player to win it all as a head coach.
Ten MLB umpires announce their retirement including seven crew chiefs in the biggest umpire exodus since 1999. Veteran crew chief Ted Barrett is among those retiring.
DEATHS: Roger Angell, Lou Angotti, Frank Beckmann, Mike Bossey, Marlin Briscoe, John Y. Brown, Tony Brown, Kenny Burrough, Gino Cappellitti, John Clayton, Terry Cooney, Joe Crozier, Tommy Davis, Len Dawson, Art (Pinky) Deras, Vince Dooley, Dick Ellsworth, Hugh Evans, Bill Fitch, Emile (The Cat) Francis, Ron Franklin, Jeffrey Giambi, Coy Gibbs, Clark Gilles, Bob Goalby, Hank Goldberg, Vince Granatelli, Johnny Grier, Ray Guy, John Hadl, Joe B. Hall, Bill Haller, Franco Harris, Lusia Harris, Fred Hickman, Jalen Hill, Joan Joyce, Guy Lafleur, Daryle Lamonica, John Landy, Milles Lane, Bob Lanier, Mike Leach, Don Maynard, Hugh McElhenny, Peter McNab, John McVay, Katie Meyer, Gary Moellar, Hilaree Nelson, Louis Orr, Jim Pappin, Pele’, Gaylord Perry, Jean Potvin, Dan Reeves, Bill Russell, Borje Salming, Dan Schachte, Vin Scully, Earnie Shavers, Gene Shue, Paul Silas, Curt Simmons, Shirley Spork, John Stearns, Gil Stein, Bruce Sutter, Charley Taylor, Ralph Terry, Charley Trippi, Jerry Vanisi, Dick Versace, Grant Wahl, Tom Weiskopf, Kathy Whitworth, Dave Wickersham, Maury Wills and Rayfield Wright.
Reach George Eichorn at [email protected]