With 2009 waiting to take over the calendar and offer sports fans thousands of beautiful, joyous, historic, tragic and glorious moments, here is a look back at the top 15 events of 2008.

No. 15 – Philadelphia Phillies win baseball World Series
The Phillies beat the up-start Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series to finally bring a championship to the proud city of Philadelphia, which had suffered a combined 100 years without a crown in 25 years in the four major U.S. sports baseball, baksetball, American football and ice hockey.

No. 14 – Kansas come back to beat Memphis for NCAA basketball title
The Kansas Jayhawks trailed by nine points in the final two minutes but Mario Chalmers knocked down a three-pointers just before the buzzer to force overtime, where Kansas prevailed to win their third NCAA title after 1952 and 1988.

No. 13 – CSKA Moscow beat Maccabi Tel Aviv for Euroleague basketball crown
Russian basketball giants CSKA Moscow march past Maccabi Tel Aviv for their second Euroleague crown in the past three seasons and sixth overall. It was Moscow’s sixth straight Final Four appearance.

No. 12 – NBA franchise Seattle SuperSonics sold to Oklahoma City, become Thunder
The one-time NBA champions Seattle SuperSonics were sold to a grew of Oklahoma City owners, who over a spat about a new arena in the upper northwest of the U.S. decided to leave Seattle.

No. 11 – Tampa Bay Rays reach baseball World Series
A true Cinderella story as Tampa Bay went from the worst record in baseball to reaching the game’s ultimate stage in one off-season – which included changing the team’s name from the Devil Rays to the Rays. Tampa Bay won with home-grown talent and smart personnel moves.

No. 10 – United States takes back golf Ryder Cup
Team USA beat Team Europe 16.5 to 11.5 at the Valhalla Club in Louisville, Kentucky. With Tiger Woods back home recovering from knee surgery, captain Paul Azinger called on a strange mix of characters – led by Anthony Kim and Boo Weekley – to win the first Ryder Cup since 1999.

No. 9 – Team U.S.A beats Spain to win basketball gold at 2008 Olympics
The so-called Redeem Team was challenged in the final against reigning world champions Spain but prevailed through unselfish teamwork from a group of absolute superstars – led by Kobe Bryant and LeBron James – to take back the Olympic men’s gold medal.

No. 8 – New York Giants upset New England Patriots for NFL Super Bowl crown
This game reaches this high on the list less because of New York winning the game than the Patriots getting beaten and in the process ending their chance of a historic undefeated season. The Giants battered and bruised New England quarterback and were carried to victory by an absolutely outstanding catch by David Tyree.

No. 7 – Rafael Nadal dethrones Roger Federer in epic five-set Wimbledon battle
A fierce rivalry in tennis added another amazing chapter. Federer was going for his sixth consecutive Wimbledon singles title, which would have broken Bjorn Borg’s modern era record. Federer staved off two championship points in the fourth tiebreak but would eventually lose 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5), 6–7(8), 9–7 in a rain-delay match ended in near darkness after 4 hours, 48 minutes of play.

No. 6 – Usain Bolt sets 100m and 200m world records at Olympics
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt shattered the 100 meter world record at the 2008 Olympics with an unbelievable time of 9.69 seconds – which could have been faster had he not slowed in the final 10 meters to boost about his victory. Four days later he smashed the 200m world record for his second gold in 19.30 seconds. He and his teammates also set the the 4×100 meter relay record at 37.10 seconds for a third gold in Beijing.

No. 5 – Manchster United stop Chelsea in penalties for Champions League crown
In the first all-English club Champions League final, Edwin van der Sar blocked a penalty by Nicolas Anelka to give Manchester United a 6-5 win on penalties after the game ended in a 1-1 draw. It was Manchester United third Champions League crown following titles in 1968 and 1999.

No. 4 – Tiger Woods wins U.S. Open on one leg
In a miraculous will of strength, Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate in a sudden death play-off for his third U.S. Open Championship and 14th major title. Woods clearly played in pain but it was revealed two days after the tournament that he had a double stress fracture of his left tibia. And he had surgery to repair his ACL and would miss the rest of the 2008 season.

No. 3 – Boston Celtics fend off Los Angeles Lakers for 17th NBA title
Kevin Garnett inspired his Boston Celtic teammates to a 4-2 victory over the Lakers in the NBA Finals – bringing back to life the old rivalry with Los Angeles. Garnett and Ray Allen were added to the club in the off-season and led the dramatic turn-around from the second-worst record in the NBA in 2006-07 to an NBA title – the club’s 17th crown and first since 1986.

No. 2 – Spain finally top of Europe again, beat Germany for Euro2008 trophy
A traditional power in youth tournaments, Spain finally lived up to their talent and beat Germany 1-0 on a goal by Fernando Torres for the nation’s first Euro crown since 1964. Spain, which went undefeated in the tournament, were in their third Euro final after beating the Soviet Union in 1964 and losing to France in 1984. The Spaniards had not advanced past the quarter-finals of any major tournament since then.

No. 1 – Michael Phelps breaks Mark Spitz’s Olympic record with eight golds
Phelps offered the best performance in sports history at the 2008 Olympics, winning eight gold medals over a nine-day stretch. The American swimmer broke Mark Spitz’s record of seven golds at a single Games and also holds the all-time record for gold medals with 14 – at the age of just 23.


Here are a few other stories that made headlines in 2008

+ McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton holds on to win the Formula One title as the youngest ever world champion
+ Soccer/football legend Diego Maradona takes over as Argentina national team coach
+ Russian club FC Zenit St. Petersburg wins the UEFA Cup
+ Justine Henin retires from tennis at the top of her game at age 25 as the world number one
+ Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong announces that he will be returning to the sport for 2009
+ The legendary baseball stadium for the New York Yankees – Yankee Stadium – closes its door
+ Former Olympic champion sprinter Marion Jones was sent off to jail,
+ Vladimir Klitchko unifies the heavyweight boxing IBF and WBO belts by beating Sultan Ibragimov on points
+ American NFL football legendary quarterback Brett Favre was traded to the New York Jets
+ Louisiana State beat Ohio State to capture the 2008 college football national championship
+ Legendary college basketball coach Bob Knight retires from Texas Tech after collecting 902 victories
+ Russia beat Canada 5-4 in the final of the 2008 World Ice Hockey Championship.
+ Superstar quarterback Tom Brady goes down in Week One of the NFL season for the New England Patriots, who would go on for a successful season but miss the play-offs
+ Josh Hamilton slugs 28 home runs in a single round of the 2008 Home Run derby, completing his triumphant comeback from drug addiction