Top Ten South Florida Sports Moments of 2014

Let's face it. 2014 was a big heaping pile of crap of a sports year for us down here. The Heat got destroyed in the Finals, which led to LeBron James' leaving for Cleveland. The Dolphins still suck. The Marlins missed the playoffs and lost their star player for the season when he got beaned in the face. And the Miami Hurricanes are a disgrace.

And yet, even with all the misery and heartache, 2014 still managed to produce some pretty spectacularly memorable moments in sports.

So no, there hasn't been much to cheer for this year, but enough happened to remind us that sports is fun and that the future is indeed bright -- at least in some places.

So as we say goodbye to a horrible sports year, let's revisit the Top Ten moments one last time and be reminded that it's not as bad as it seems:

10. The U Part 2 The University of Miami Hurricanes football program is in a shambles, what with Al Golden stinking up the joint and the powers that be inexplicably not firing him despite back-to-back embarrassingly bad losing seasons. But the one saving grace for the U lately has been looking back at its past glories, and no one has done that better than documentarian Billy Corben. His seminal doc The U was met with rave reviews. And the sequel, The U Part 2, which was released earlier this month, was just as good. Revisiting past glories is pretty much the only thing Canes fans have left. Thank goodness for Billy Corben.

9. Dan Marino Returns His Awesomeness to the Dolphins All-time greatest Dolphin and Hall of Famer Dan Marino retires in 1999, and the team promptly goes directly into the shitter, never to return to its past glories ever again. Coincidence? Shit and no. Marino is the Miami Dolphins, and Stephen Ross' hiring him this year to take on an adviser role is the only good thing the owner has done for this team. Now the Right of Arm of God is roaming the hallways making sure shit gets fixed and promptly. And is it also a coincidence that Ryan Tannehill started to stop sucking as soon as Marino got here? No. Not a coincidence. The Dolphins still have a long way to go before they're any good again. But having the legend of Marino in the fold is a step in the right direction on a franchise filled with losers and dolts.

8. Ryan Tannehill's Emergence as The Guy We've Been Waiting for All These Years The Dolphins are filled with suck. And they've sucked for so long, people forgot what it's like to cheer for a relevant football team in South Florida. One of the main reasons for this has been because the team has gone through 13 quarterbacks since 1999, and all of them were pretty terrible. But suddenly, there's hope. In his third year as the starter, Ryan Tannehill has emerged as a fine quarterback with a bright future. While the rest of the Fins were ass this season, Tannehill managed to set franchise records and hit the 4,000-yard mark -- the first time a Dolphin QB has done that since Marino was at the helm. Playing behind a shoddy offensive line, with mediocre receivers, Tannehill managed to turn a lot of the Suck into some magic, giving Dolphins fans everywhere something they haven't felt in more than two decades: HOPE.

7. LeBron Breaks the Heat Franchise Single-Game Scoring Record On March 3, LeBron James (remember him?) shattered the Heat's all-time scoring record for a single game when he dropped 61 points on the Charlotte Bobcats. The record had been held for 19 years by Heat all-timer Glen Rice. But LeBron, being the best basketball player in the world and all, obliterated the record and established himself as one of the most efficient players the NBA has ever seen. On this night, James shot an insane 66.7 percent from the floor, throwing down eight consecutive three-pointers at one point. It was one of the most magnificent single-player performances the Heat has ever seen.

6. Chris Bosh Decides Loyalty Over Royalty, Re-Signs With the Heat When LeBron James announced he was heading back to Cleveland, things were bleak. Things got really dark, however, when rumors began to swirl that Chris Bosh would also be bolting Miami. As the Houston Rockets were putting on the full-court press to have him join them, Heat fans went into full meltdown mode. They began to imagine a dark and ugly future that not only didn't have LeBron in it but also didn't have Bosh. It was madness.

But then, all was well again when it was announced that Bosh had agreed to a five-year, $118 million contract with the Heat. Bosh, who has been such an integral part of the Heat's championship run, could have joined up with Houston to chase another ring. But he ultimately decided that Miami was his home and chose loyalty over royalty. Unlike some people, Bosh doesn't take the easy way out.

5. Giancarlo Stanton's 37 Home Runs All of the monster dongs. Holy and Shit.

4. Giancarlo Stanton Re-Signs With the Marlins Possibly the most surprising sports story of the year down here, the perpetually cheap Miami Marlins decided they have a bona fide future superstar on their hands in Stanton and decided to give him the richest contract in pro sports history.

The Marlins gave the 25-year-old Stanton a massive 13-year, $325 million contract to stay in Miami, shattering the previous record held by Alex Rodriguez, who signed with the Yankees in 2008 for $275 million. Marlins fans were fearful that Stanton would leave the team and take his talents elsewhere just as he's entering his prime. Instead, the Marlins locked him up and promised to build a winner around him. It's a massive contract, and it's probably a little reckless, but fans at least can breathe easier knowing that at least one superstar player is playing for their hometown for a long, long time.

3. Dwyane Wade's Renaissance and Reminder of What a Badass He Is When LeBron bolted to Cleveland, the entire sports-watching world assumed that the Heat would instantly become a lottery team. Dwyane Wade, they said, was once a great player but had now been reduced to a shell of his former self. And without LeBron around, Wade's demise would be exposed even further.

And then the season started, and Dwyane Wade proceeded to take his doubters' words, rolled them into a ball, and shot them out of a cannon into everyone's faces.

Wade has made a career out of using doubt as his fuel and lighting the world on fire with his basketball prowess. Without LeBron, he's doing just damned fine. Wade is averaging 23 points a night. He's got a field-goal percentage of 51.2 percent and is generally crushing faces as he's always done. So, sure, LeBron might be gone. But so what? This is and has always been D-Wade's house. He just let LeBron borrow it for a few seasons.

2. The Heat Win a Fourth-Straight Eastern Conference Finals It takes a pretty special team to win four-straight conference Finals, but the Heat -- led by the Big Three -- did just that. The grand experiment of LeBron, Wade, and Bosh coming together may have ended somewhat prematurely, but what it gave us was a part of Heat history that will never be forgotten. The Big Three era will forever go down as the greatest, most electric run in Miami Heat history. It ended in 2014 but gave us grand fireworks along the way.

1. The Heat Spoil LeBron's First Return to Miami by Denting Cavs Ass Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Or, by thoroughly kicking your ass on Christmas Day.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph