It's been fun looking back on 2012, locally and on the national scene. Reminiscing on the highlights and top performances of the past calendar year, if nothing else, shows how fast time is moving.
It was just June when LeBron James became the top sports figure of the year, turning around two years of hatred and ridicule, to finally win The Finals. LeBron went from public enemy No. 1 after his "Decision" to leave Cleveland in 2010, his jersey being burnt in the streets, to winning the only thing that would silence his most irrational detractors - the title.
Oh, then he joined Team USA to win Gold in London a couple months later.
This is the best basketball player we've ever seen, in terms of complete game, and he's in the prime of his career on a team that improved from last year's winning group. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
LeBron has said numerous times, when badgered by reporters, he could lead the league in scoring if he wanted to, just this particular team doesn't need him to do that, like in Cleveland. There's not a doubt in my mind if stats were the only thing driving LeBron he could lead the league in scoring and average a triple-double - I'm serious.
Next time you're on your favorite sports site, click a Miami Heat box score. I guarantee you LeBron's numbers look something like this: 27 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, 1 block. Maybe 8 rebounds and 11 assists and 3 blocks with 31 points. It's crazy, and it's every game.
As you can tell, LeBron gets my "Best of 2012." Other greats from the year that can't be left unrecognized are:
Adrian Peterson - you would've never known his knee was blown last year. Go for the record, AP. The Vikings well over-achieved any expectations I had for them this year. Beat the Pack and get into the playoffs, AP will put them on his back if they let him.
Peyton Manning - the consummate professional, coming back from missing all last year and four neck surgeries to choose the Broncos, and is once again at the top of the game and a Super Bowl contender.
Rookie QBs - Some of the best rookie QBs we've ever seen with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. Everyone's forgotten about what Cam Newton did last year and the expectations continue to soar for future QBs. All three are shining bright but nobody's glowing like RG3.
Moving on to less pleasant business: The "Worst of 2012" offender is none other than everyone's favorite pro sports league: the big, bad NFL. Mainly the robotic, snake-oil salesman face of Roger Goodell, ruling the NFL with a blatant disregard for anything but the bottom line, the ultimate yes-man for the owners.
Things boiled over when Goodell came down on the Saints for "bounties" and not cooperating with the league, yada yada. He suspended players, coaches, general managers with a bunch of hearsay and loose ends.
I certainly wasn't surprised when former commissioner Paul Tagliabue overruled the players' suspensions: There was no proof, and no one admitted it from their end.
The coaches were caught admitting something was going on, so their suspensions were upheld, but it was still a case of power run amok from the league office. This was a Super Bowl winner, a franchise at the top of the league in fans and exposure, and Goodell goes way too far in what turned out to be a pretty bogus case. Jonathon Vilma plans to continue with a defamation lawsuit against Goodell, and he's got a great case.
So the Saints' season was over immediately with an 0-4 start, but we all want to forget the first month of the season. I know you didn't forget about these two top words of 2012: "Replacement refs." Another Roger Goodell situation. He really thought people weren't going to know the difference. Is that an interception or a touchdown? Did the Packers win or, wait, did the Seahawks? Don't get me started.
Another year in the books. Another legendary sports icon torn down to shreds for the amusement of "morality." Like anybody really cares what Lance Armstrong was doing at this point. With what they did to him this year, stripping his Tour titles and Livestrong foundation, it's like they wish everyone would just forget about Lance Armstrong. Maybe they should have caught him when he was racing then. Eight years later doesn't do anything for me. I've moved on. It's a shame.
But that's sports. That's life. That's the world we live in.
Cheers, 2012. Bring on 2013 - looking forward to it.