The Wizard of Westwood died June 4 at the age of 99. John Wooden coached UCLA's men's basketball team to 10 NCAA championships, including seven in a row from 1967-73 and an 88-game winning streak.
The Huskies' women's basketball team extended their record winning streak to 78 games with a second straight national championship in April, becoming the first team to post consecutive unbeaten seasons. And Connecticut is a powerhouse again this season.
This comeback was nothing like last year's magical run to the NFC title game for the 41-year-old quarterback. His Minnesota Vikings struggled badly, and the NFL launched an investigation into whether he sent lewd photos of himself to a Jets employee. After voting began, his record streak of 297 starts ended.
The NASCAR driver extended his record with his fifth straight Sprint Cup title. Perhaps most impressively, he did it despite not being in top form all season. Johnson became the first driver in the Chase's seven-year history to overcome a points deficit in the finale.
New posters distributed to teams before the season warned of concussions' dangers in much harsher language than before. Another sign of how big the issue had become: increased reporting of concussions by players. Midseason, the NFL cracked down on helmet hits with huge fines and threatened suspensions.
The Giants hadn't won the World Series since they moved to San Francisco in 1958 — and since 1954 overall. This didn't seem to be the year to end the drought when they barely squeaked into the playoffs. But with dominant pitching and clutch hitting, they beat the Texas Rangers in five games.
A World Cup of firsts ended gloriously for Spain and for Africa. South Africa hosted the continent's first World Cup without the pitfalls many predicted. And the Spaniards brought home the first World Cup title to the soccer-mad country with a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in extra time.
NBA fans were captivated by the mystery of where MVP LeBron James and other marquee free agents would land. Few would have guessed that three of them would sign with the same team: the Miami Heat, who became basketball's Evil Empire by adding James from Cleveland and Chris Bosh from Toronto to Dwyane Wade.
New Orleans residents loved their Saints for not abandoning the city after Hurricane Katrina, but it was hard to imagine the team bringing much joy on the field after 42 mostly losing seasons. Then Drew Brees and Co. upset the mighty Indianapolis Colts in their first Super Bowl, to the delight of French Quarter revelers and fans nationwide who adopted the Saints.
Woods returned to public view with a 13½-minute statement in February, then came back to golf at the Masters in April with a fourth-place finish. That would be one of his few highlights on the course — Woods went winless on the PGA Tour for the first time in his career and lost his No. 1 ranking for the first time in years. In August, he and Elin Nordegren divorced.