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Editor’s note: The first decade of the 21st century might have ended, but we can’t kick off the new decade until we look back at the moments in sports that touched us all. For CU Independent Sports Editor Cheng Sio’s most memorable sports moment, click here.
Looking back on the wildest sports decade yet, one moment has captured the essence of American sports, and the Gators ate it up.
In the basketball classic we have come to know as March Madness, four University of Florida players made a pact to attempt the near impossible. Juniors Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green put their NBA contracts on hold.
Topping UCLA for the 2006 NCAA Men’s National Championship wasn’t enough for the title-thirsty Gators. Just as the vicious animal on their jersey would, they went back for seconds. The following season, the Gators topped the Ohio State Buckeyes 84-75 in the 2007 National Championship Game.
What made this moment so immaculate was the fact Florida joined an elite list in an elite system. The Gators became the first team since the Duke Blue Devils in 1991-92 to win back-to-back national championships.
The astronomical odds of capturing college basketball’s crown consecutively are high, really high.
All of the pieces to the puzzle have to fit. Head coach Billy Donovan laid the foundation, and the players the school bought in mastered the system on college athletics once more.
The chance of injury is too high for players and the school scrambles to keep the paperwork in order. The inter-workings of university operations from the secretary up to the dean have to be flawless. Funding, admissions and education, it all has to be perfect, which is an accomplishment in itself.
Not only did the University of Florida balance the complex equation of college sports, they did it with gusto.
Nearly every sport rode a fault line this decade. Tiger Woods dominated golf with 12 majors but cheated on his wife. Kobe Bryant owned the NBA but was accused of rape. Baseball was…well, we all know what happened in baseball. And the BCS… probably not changing any time soon.
The Gators in ’07 executed the values of sports better than anyone, or team, this decade. They fought resiliently when down and never let their guard down when they were up. The Gators put on a true display of sports.
With apologies to:
1. Michael Phelps’ fingertip victory at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. If only he didn’t have the bong.
2. The Curse is reversed. Eighty-six years was quite a wait for Red Sox Nation.
3. Boise State’s tricky win over Oklahoma in the ’07 Fiesta Bowl. It’s the true underdog’s tale.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Richard Londer at Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org