This is part of a series of sports history articles celebrating the best in 1982 sports. This piece asks the question of which geographic fan base had the best year in ’82.
There were sports markets that had good years in 1982, even very good years. We might start with Washington D.C. The Redskins won their first Super Bowl and the Georgetown basketball team came within a bucket of the NCAA title. Or southern California. The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title and if you were an Angels fan you watched your team get to within a run of reaching the World Series.
Atlanta had a nice year, even if there was no championship. The Georgia football team carried the load, with Herschel Walker winning the Heisman Trophy and the team enjoying an undefeated regular season before losing the national title in the Sugar Bowl to Penn State. The Dawgs got support from local teams in the Atlanta Braves, who reached the National League Championship Series, and the Atlanta Falcons, who snagged the #5 seed in the NFC playoffs in a strike-shortened year.
All of these fan bases had seasons worthy of praise, and if you ask me to pick which one was best, I’d go with Washington, as they came the closest to winning two championships. But the real place to be in 1982 sports was New Orleans.
It wasn’t because the New Orleans Saints had a big year, or that LSU was dominant in either football or basketball. But two head coaches, already on their way legendary status, won their first national championships in 1982 and came to the Bayou to do it.
The springtime saw North Carolina’s Dean Smith bring his seventh Final Four team to New Orleans and finally win a national championship. And later in the year, Penn State’s Joe Paterno, after coming close to national titles but falling short four other times (for a variety of reasons not always his fault) took home his first crown in the Sugar Bowl. Thus, a tribute to Dean and Joe Pa really becomes a tribute to New Orleans in the sports year that was 1982.
Read more about the 1982 North Carolina basketball team
Read more about the 1982 Penn State football team
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