2015’s Five Best Moments in South Florida Sports

2015 was not a great sports year. We saw the Marlins top themselves as the most embarrassing franchise in professional sports, the Hurricanes fire their head coach, the Heat lose one of their star players to a near-death lung condition, and the Dolphins once again delve deep into the well of mediocrity. But chin up, everyone! Because things were not all bleak. All you have to do is look real close and you’ll see that 2015 actually had some fine sports moments that bring joy and — dare we say? — hope!

Here now are the five best sports moments of 2015:

5. Justise Winslow Falling Into the Heat’s Lap
It was a special surprise from the basketball gods. For most of the year, the Heat simply could not catch a break. The team had lost LeBron, Dwyane Wade was injured, Chris Bosh got blood clots, Josh McRoberts had a season-ending injury, and the team was left out of the playoffs. Then karma showed its benevolence and mercy and delivered the Heat Justise Winslow, a talented swingman with length, strength, the ability to shoot threes, a massive six-foot-ten wingspan, and a lot of room to grow. At just 19 years of age, Winslow still has a lot of space to fill in the expectations that come with his already ginormous six-foot-six, 222-pound frame. Yet he’s already drawn comparisons to LeBron and Wade. His coach at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski, said before the draft that Winslow was the next Wade. And ESPN draft analyst Jay Bilas said this during a broadcast: “[Winslow is] difficult to stop in transition. Plays bigger than his height, has amazing timing to go up and block a shot — almost LeBron James-like in his ability to do that.”

4. Hassan Whiteside Falling Into the Heat’s Lap
When the Miami Heat lost LeBron James last summer, everyone wrote Miami off. The league’s MVP was gone, and the team was a shell of its former championship self. But everyone forgot that Pat Riley is still running things. And Pat Riley doesn’t just let his teams wallow in mediocrity. So he worked his magic and plucked Hassan Whiteside out of obscurity and plugged him in at center. Now Hassan is suddenly a shot-blocking machine, scoring double-doubles and smacking shots into the stratosphere.

3. Dee Gordon Wins NL Batting Title and Stolen-Base Title
It was yet another abysmal season for the Miami Marlins and their toad-faced, troglodytic owner. Giancarlo Stanton went down with an injury, they fired their manager and replaced him with a guy with zero managerial experience, and opening day was delayed due to rain — even though Marlins Park has a roof. But Dee Gordon was the lone standout. With blazing speed and an eye for pitches, Gordon managed to win the NL batting title and the stolen-base title. No one noticed. Because the Marlins are a dumpster fire.

2. The Return
The University of Miami’s football team has been hitting some rough times lately. It’s no longer the NFL factory juggernaut that it was in the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s. This year, UM fired much-beleaguered Head Coach Al Golden and suffered the worst loss in school history. But the season will forever be remembered for the U’s miraculous last-second comeback win against Duke. It brought Hurricanes fans much joy and also riled up the national media, which felt that maybe the U won due to a botched call by the refs. In other words, fans were happy and the rest of America was butthurt over the U winning. Just as it should be.

1. Chris Bosh’s Return
It was the season from hell for the Heat after it was sideswiped by LeBron James’ decision to bolt back to Cleveland, and Miami was left reeling to replace its MVP. Injuries began to pile up. Josh McRoberts was lost for the season with a knee injury. Dwyane Wade’s knees began to crumble. And just when it appeared that Pat Riley had fixed things when he traded for point guard Goran Dragiç, Chris Bosh suddenly fell ill with a seemingly mysterious ailment. Turns out, that ailment nearly killed him. After a series of tests, Bosh was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs. But then, during the offseason, he announced he was returning: fully healthy and ready to wreck ass. 
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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph