This article offers a snapshot of 2008 sports, a year that saw a big Final Four three-point shot and four traditional franchises win pro sports titles.
It was a power Final Four that gathered in San Antonio. Never before had all four #1 seeds advanced to the Final Four. Sports fans not only got to watch the best teams settle the national championship, but they watched a title game that would take place in college basketball lore.
Kansas trailed Memphis by nine points with 2:12 to go, rallied and tied the game with two seconds left on a three-pointer by Mario Challmes, then won in overtime.
Read more about the 2008 Final Four
The world of professional sports saw four great sports towns with traditional franchises win championships…
*It had been 25 years since the city of Philadelphia won a sports championship of any kind and 28 years since that team had been the Phillies. This year changed all that. The team the Phils beat in the World Series had a special story of their own. The Tampa Bay Rays came out of nowhere to beat the Boston Red Sox and win the American League pennant.
Read more about the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies
Read more about the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays & The ALCS
*The Pittsburgh Steelers hadn’t gone a quarter-century without a championship—it had only been three years in fact. 2008 saw Pittsburgh win their record-setting sixth Super Bowl title. The Steelers were the 2-seed in the AFC and survived a wild playoff bracket, where the NFL postseason began to resemble March Madness.
Both #1 seeds (Tennessee Titans and New York Giants) lost in the divisional round, something that hadn’t happened since 1979. Both #6 seeds (Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles) made conference championship games, something that had never happened. Of the four teams that earned first-round byes, the Steelers were the only one to survive even one game. Survival was enough in 2008.
It was part of a great year for Pittsburgh sports fans, especially those oriented to the central part of the state. Penn State football won the Big Ten and went to the Rose Bowl, while the Pittsburgh Penguins reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
Read more about the year that was 2008 Central-West Pennsylvania Sports
*The Detroit Red Wings had won three Stanley Cups since 1997, but all had come under the leadership of the great head coach Scotty Bowman. Detroit showed they still had championship magic for third-year boss Mike Babcock. The Red Wings produced the best regular season record in the NHL and validated it with yet another Stanley Cup.
Read more about the 2008 Detroit Red Wings
*The Boston Celtics are the NBA’s most decorated franchise, but it had been 1986 since they last won a title and 1988 since they last seriously competed for one. A big offseason trade to bring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to town and join Paul Pierce produced an immediate and smashing turnaround, as the Celtics won their league-record 17th NBA championship.
Read more about the 2008 Boston Celtics
The Florida Gators won their second college football national title in three years, beating the Oklahoma Sooners in a good BCS National Championship Game. Read more about the 2008 Florida-Oklahoma game, from the paths both teams took to Miami to the game itself.
A lot of observers felt the real champion of 2008 was in the midmajors though. Utah went undefeated and beat up on Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, marking the Utes as the only team in the country with a perfect record. Read more about 2008 Utah football.