In 2020, sports were more important than in recent years. As most professional leagues stopped operating early in the year, owners and commissioners were forced to find safe ways to restart one of life's ultimate escapes. For MLB that meant a shortened 60 game season followed by a historic World Series title win. For the NBA, it meant halting the in-progress season, only to restart it in a bubble without every team involved. The pictures that were produced during the year were just as miraculous as the sports themselves. Take a look.
Mookie Betts Seals The Dodgers World Series Championship
After a shortened MLB regular season of 60 games, the Los Angeles Dodgers reached the promised land of the World Series in October. Facing off against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Dodgers won the title in six games.
This photo is from Game Six and shows outfielder Mookie Betts celebrating as he rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the sixth inning. The shot into the bleachers would seal the series for Los Angeles, giving the team its first title since 1988.
US Juniors Star Robin Montgomery At The Australian Open
Taken on January 26th, this photo shows Robin Montgomery serving during a match at the Australian Open. The budding star made her junior officially turned pro in 2020 at just 16-years-old.
In March, Montgomery won her first ITF Women's World Tennis Tour tournament in Las Vegas. The win netted her $25,000 and officially put her on the list of names to watch. Later in the year, she made her Grand Slam debut in the US Open. In August she was ranked as the 5th best junior female tennis player in the world.
Thiago Alcantara Celebrates Winning The UEFA Champions League Trophy
On August 23, FC Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga faced off with Paris Saint-Germain of Ligue 1 in the final match of the UEFA Champions League. FC Bayern Munich won the match 1-0, securing their sixth Champions League title.
Thiago Alcantara was more than thrilled to win the European soccer tournament. Here he is holding the trophy while taking a selfie to celebrate the momentous occasion. The 2020 final match took place in Lisbon, Portugal at Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica.
Neymar Wears His Title Loss On His Sleeve
In contrast to the pure joy of Thiago Alcantara after winning the UEFA Champions League tournament, this is Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar's reaction to losing. The heartbreak is apparent as he hunches over with tears in his puffy eyes.
Neymar transferred to the French soccer club in 2016 and is one of the highest-paid athletes in the world. His current contract with the team runs for five years (ending in 2022) and is worth $350 million.
Sofia Kenin Made History At The Australian Open
The number four ranked women's tennis player in the world, Sofia Kenin of the United States is captured here kissing the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup. She was awarded the trophy for winning the Women's Singles tournament at the Australian Open.
Kenin, who is 22-years-old, became the youngest American to win a Grand Slam title since Serena Williams accomplished the feat in 2002. Born in Moscow, Kenin's family moved to the United States shortly after she was born.
The Kansas City Chiefs Win After 50 Years Of Losing
The beginning of 2020 proved to be a hint of what was to come in the sporting world. In January, the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. It was the 50th anniversary of the last time the team hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
For head coach Andy Reid, it was the biggest moment of his career. A decades-long career in charge of the Eagles and Chiefs saw him continuously fall short of greatness. All it took to break his bad luck was a once in a lifetime QB just entering his prime.
Preparing For Greatness
The Tampa Bay Lightning won their second Stanley Cup Trophy in franchise history in 2020, but it was no easy task. The series stretched over six games as the team went blow for blow with the Dallas Stars in a battle for hockey supremacy.
You can tell how seriously Ondrej Palat takes the moment in this photo that was taken before the second period of Game Four. Palat was drafted by the Lightning in 2011 and has played his entire career with the team.
The Reality Of 2020
In a photo that truly captures what sports meant in 2020, here is a Los Angeles Lakers' fan in Buena Park, California, wearing a mask and celebrating his team's NBA championship. On the screen you see LeBron James embracing a teammate in pure bliss.
LeBron James continued to display his dominance in 2020, despite a shortened NBA season that ended with a bubble tournament to determine a champion. The Lakers are the third team James has won an NBA Title with.
Joe Burrow Knows What Time It Is
Joe Burrow made this motion after scoring a touchdown during the College Football National Championship Game against the Clemson Tigers. It was the Heisman Trophy winner's last college game, and it was also his final statement to NFL teams looking for a franchise QB.
In April, Burrow became the first overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. During his rookie season, an injury set him back, but once he's healthy again, his star will continue to rise.
An NFL Draft Like No Other
Th NFL Draft in 2020, which was held in April, was a draft like no other in history. Head coaches had to make their picks from their homes. Kliff Kingsbury, the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, made waves when his home was shown on the national broadcast.
Labeled as the ultimate bachelor pad, the image instantly turned Kingsbury into a star. Looking at the image captured here, it's hard not to be just a little bit jealous.
NASCAR Paved The Way
When the entire sports world was forced to stop in 2020, NASCAR was one of the first professional American sports to resume. First, the sport leaned on iRacing, a virtual league where professional drivers would compete online with gamers.
Once safety guidelines were created, NASCAR resumed live, in some cases with crowds allowed in the stands. The high-octane league created a guideline and helped pave the way for the return of American sports.
Liverpool Returns To The Top After 30 Years
Mo Salah helped Liverpool Football Club recapture the Premiere League title in 2020 for the first time in 30 years in 2020. In a league where Manchester United has seemingly had stranglehold, Liverpool broke through, and it took a gargantuan effort from its star player.
Salah scored 19 goals during the season and Sadio Mane scored another 18. The club won 32 matches, lost three, and tied another three. The record was enough to see them celebrate at the top of the mountain at the end of the season.
MLS Showed How Bubbles Work
In looking to be one of the first American sports leagues to return to play, Major League Soccer (MLS) created a bubble tournament called MLS is Back. The tournament took place in a bubble environment at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
The tournament, independent from the league's regular season, was seen as a celebration of sport in its purest form. At the end of the month-long journey, the Portland Timbers were able to call themselves the winners. Shortly after the MLS is Back tournament ended, the league resumed its regular season activities.
Washington Brings MLB Back
Originally scheduled to start its regular season at the end of March, Major League Baseball was forced to wait until July 23 to have its first pitch thrown. The opening of the season, a nationally televised match, was between the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees.
The Nationals won their first World Series in franchise history in 2019 and were hoping to defend their title in 2020. As you know from a previous slide, they were unable to win back-to-back championships as the Dodgers took the 2020 title.
The Quiet Stands Of The Kentucky Derby
Before 2020, the Kentucky Derby was as much of a fashion show as it was a horse race. Fans would show up in large hats and extravagant outfits to celebrate the final race of the Triple Crown.
Like other events, the Derby was at first delayed in 2020 before finally being held in September with minimal capacity in the stands. The winner of the race was Authentic, a horse train by Bab Baffert.
College Football Barely Came Back
No sport's future over the last year was in more question than college football. If campuses were to stay closed, how could universities possibly ask student-athletes to return to practice and play? On September 12, Clemson became one of the first major university to return to the field.
Clemson faced off against Wake Forest. It was the first game of the final season for top draft prospect Trevor Lawrence, who the season prior lost the National Championship Game.
The NFL Stayed On Schedule
Seemingly every professional sport had to be put on hold in 2020. The NFL, who start in the fall, had time to plan. With no intentions of delaying the first week of the season, the league canceled the preseason and planned for player and staff safety.
On September 10, the first game of the NFL season took place with the Houston Texans taking on the defending world champion Kansas City Chiefs. That game was instantly iconic in part because of Andy Reid's plastic face shield seen here.
Seattle "Stormed" Back To The WNBA Title
For the second time in three seasons, the Seattle Storm won the WNBA title. This one might be more special than the other, though, all things considered. Not only was it the return of Breanna Stewart after a brutal Achilles injury, it was also won during a bubble season no one saw coming.
Stewart was named the WNBA Finals MVP after a regular season where she averaged 19.7 points-per-game. It was the 4th WNBA Title in franchise history.
Dustin Johnson Won The Masters - In November
Normally scheduled for the first week of April, the Masters at Augusta, one of the most prestigious PGA Majors in the world, was held in November in 2020. As strange as that was, the unfamiliar time of year didn't stop one of the best golfers in the world from winning.
Johnson was magnificent in winning his second major championship. He shot a record 268, which was 20 under par, giving him a cozy five-stroke victory.
Sarah Fuller Made Her Football Debut
Special circumstances during the 2020 college football season left Vanderbilt without a kicker at one point. To solve the problem, the University asked soccer star Sarah Fuller to take the position on the team. The move was surprising in more ways than one.
Fuller became the first female athlete in Power Five history to take a snap in a college football game. She scored her first collegiate points when she knocked in two extra points during a game against Tennessee on December 12.