It’s been a year for sports unlike any other, and unlike we’ll (hopefully) ever see again.
The big picture: While the outlook for sports during a pandemic looked grim at the outset, leagues got creative and found solutions. Fans adapted. Bubbles formed. Empty stadiums were filled with posterboards, stuffed animals and cardboard cutouts. Players adapted to a new world of isolation and cheerless games.
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JAN. 13 Geaux Tigers: Joe Burrow and LSU capped off a magical season with a 42-25 win over Clemson in the CFP National Championship.
Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
JAN. 26 The crash: Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and six other passengers died in a helicopter crash on their way to a youth girls basketball game. Seems like a lifetime ago. Still can’t comprehend it.
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FEB. 2 Chiefs win Super Bowl: Kansas City won its first championship in 50 years behind the arm of 24-year-old Patrick Mahomes, the youngest QB to own an NFL MVP trophy and a Super Bowl ring.
Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images
FEB. 22 Fists of Fury: The highly anticipated second fight between undefeated heavyweights Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder ended with Wilder’s corner throwing in the towel.
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MARCH 6 A sign of things to come: In the first U.S. sports event held without fans due to the coronavirus, Yeshiva beat Worcester Polytechnic Institute in a D-III men’s basketball tournament game at Johns Hopkins University.
Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
MARCH 12 March Sadness:A day that will live in infamy. The NHL and MLS followed the NBA’s lead and suspended play, while MLB canceled spring training and postponed Opening Day. Then, the final blow: No March Madness.
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APRIL 15 Working (out) from home: With gyms and training centers shut down, athletes found ways to train while quarantined at home.
Photo: NFL via Getty Images
APRIL 23 Virtual draft: The 2020 NFL draft was scheduled for Las Vegas and poised to be the biggest spectacle yet. Instead, it was held virtually, with commissioner Roger Goodell announcing picks from his basement.
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MAY 5 Baseball returns: After months of replays and virtual events, the Korea Baseball Organization arrived to save the day blessing those willing to wake up in the wee hours of the morning with live action.
Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images
MAY 17 “The Last Dance” finale: The 10-part series about Michael Jordan and the Bulls arrived at the perfect time, filling the void of the “No Sports Era” and shattering documentary viewership records.
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JUNE 22 Standing with Bubba: NASCAR drivers stood in solidarity with Bubba Wallace after a noose was found in his garage stall a week after the organization banned the Confederate flag at its facilities.
Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images
JUNE 27 Team sports return: The NWSL’s Challenge Cup marked the return of professional team sports in the U.S. and helped pave the way for other bubble tournaments, while also producing one of the year’s most memorable photos.
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JULY 23 Opening Day: NIAID director Anthony Fauci threw out the ceremonial first pitch to open the baseball season. It was not a strike.
Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
JULY 25 Empty ballparks: No fans were taken out to the ballgame this summer, but stuffed animals and cardboard cutouts were permitted.
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AUG. 21 Parents protest: Football parents gathered outside the Big Ten’s headquarters to protest the postponement of fall sports. Four weeks later, the conference reversed its decision.
Photo: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
AUG. 26 The day sports stopped: The Bucks boycotted their playoff game in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, and the rest of the NBA plus the WNBA, MLB and MLS joined in solidarity. A monumental day in sports history.
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SEPT. 9 Eerie baseball: As dozens of wildfires raged in California, an orange glow blanketed San Francisco during an early evening Giants game.
Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images
SEPT. 28 Lightning win the Cup: Tampa Bay had a helluva sports year, highlighted by the Lightning winning the Stanley Cup in the Edmonton bubble.
Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images
OCT. 11 Kings of the bubble: LeBron James led the Lakers to their first championship since 2010, dispatching his former team, the Heat, and becoming just the fourth player to win a title with three different NBA franchises.
Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
OCT. 27 L.A.’s October sweep: The Dodgers beat the Rays to win their seventh World Series and ensure that October 2020 forever belongs to the City of Angels.
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Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images
NOV. 3 Stadium voting: Over 40 sports venues across 20 states functioned as polling centers leading up to the election, and 33 were open on Election Day.
Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
NOV. 15 DJ dominates Augusta: After a seven-month delay, Dustin Johnson won the Masters, setting a tournament record by finishing at 20-under 268.
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DEC. 2 Hump day football: Following a COVID-19 outbreak, the Ravens’ Thanksgiving game against the Steelers was moved to the following Wednesday, meaning the 2020 NFL season featured games on all seven days of the week.
Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images
DEC. 22 The NBA returns: 72 days after being crowned champions, the Lakers began the 2020-21 season with a loss to the Clippers. And 561 days after his last NBA game, Kevin Durant made his triumphant return.
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