The Most Memorable Moments In Sports In 2020

By Peyton Blakemore

December 10, 2020

The sports world was not exempt from the chaos that is 2020. From endless postponements and cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic to shocking scandals, this year in sports will go down as one of the most drama-filled years in sports history.

Keep scrolling to check out the most memorable moments in sports in 2020.

Kobe Bryant dies in California helicopter crash

On January 26, the Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter that crashed near Calabasas, California.

Tom Brady signs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady signed a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March, leaving the New England Patriots after spending the first 20 years of his career with the organization.

Los Angeles Lakers win the NBA Championship

Nearly nine months after Kobe Bryant's death, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the Finals, claiming their 17th NBA championship, a tie for the most in league history.

NBA stops games due to COVID-19

On March 11, the NBA became the first US sports league to stop games due to COVID-19, choosing to suspend the 2019-20 season "until further notice” after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 hours before the Jazz road game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The next day, Major League Baseball pushed back the start of the 2020 regular season and Minor League Baseball announced its plan to delay the start of its season indefinitely.

NCAA cancels March Madness

On March 12, the NCAA announced that the Division I men's and women's 2020 basketball tournaments, including March Madness and all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships, were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

NBA returns in Disney World Bubble

In June, the NBA approved the plan to resume the 2019-20 season at Disney World with what became known as the NBA/Disney World Bubble. The league invited the 22 teams to Orlando, Florida that were within six games of a playoff spot when the season was suspended. 

After three exhibition scrimmages inside the bubble in July, the teams played eight additional regular-season games to determine playoff seeding. The playoffs began in August and the NBA Finals started in September.

The NHL returns with two bubbles

For the Stanley Cup playoffs, the NHL used bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton. As part of their bubble strategy, players and support staff from the 24 teams were only allowed access to their hotel and the arena, the secure bubble zones. Over the 65 days of the playoffs, there were no positive COVID-19 test results. 

Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series for the first time since 1988

On their eighth consecutive trip to the postseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers finally became World Series champions, beating the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1, in Game 6 on October 27.

Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV

A half century after winning their first Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs became champions once again, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 on February 2. 

Mike Tyson comes out of retirement to fight Roy Jones Jr.

On July 23, boxing legend Mike Tyson announced his return to the ring with an eight-round exhibition match against Roy Jones Jr. in September. The fight — called the Frontline Battle — took place on September 12 and ended in a draw. It generated more than $80 million in revenue.

Professional sports leagues put cardboard fans inside empty stadiums

With fans unable to attend sporting events in the early days of the pandemic-induced quarantine, multiple sports teams across leagues got creative and had cardboard fans and fake crowd noise as substitutes for real-life fans. 

Tokyo 2020 Olympics postponed until 2021

On March 24, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by a year. The opening ceremony had been planned for July 24. 

The 2020 Summer Games will now kick off on July 23, 2021. 

2020 NFL Draft goes virtual

The 2020 NFL draft, which was originally planned to be held in Paradise, Nevada, was held remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the picks for rounds 1–3 from the basement of his home in Bronxville, New York and team coaches and General Managers convened on Microsoft Teams. 

Despite the change in plans, it was business as usual with Joe Burrow of LSU going to the Cincinnati Bengals’ with the first-overall pick.

MLB hands down historic punishment to Houston Astros for sign stealing

In January, Major League Baseball handed down its most severe punishment against a team in its history, suspending Houston Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for a year for their role in using electronic equipment to steal signs. 

"At the beginning of the 2017 season, employees in the Astros’ video replay review room began using the live game feed from the center field camera to attempt to decode and transmit opposing teams’ sign sequences," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wrote in a nine-page report following an investigation into the Astros' 2017 schemes to decode and relay opponents' signs.

The league additionally fined the Astros organization $5 million and stripped them of first- and second-round draft picks in 2020-2021. 

Milwaukee Bucks boycott NBA playoff game to protest racial injustice

Following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in August, the Milwaukee Bucks' decided to boycott their playoff game against the Orlando Magic to protest racial injustice and police brutality. 

Shortly after the Bucks decided to not play, the NBA announced it would postpone Game 5 of three different playoff series: Bucks vs. Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers. 

Other sports teams also followed suit: three WNBA, five Major League Soccer and three Major League Baseball games were also called off as athletes acted in solidarity with the Bucks' players.

NFL reschedules games due to COVID-19

Shortly after the start of the 2020 NFL season, COVID-19 outbreaks impacted several teams across the league. Since Week 4, no less than two teams have had to move back game days due to positive coronavirus tests.

Ball brothers make history at NBA draft

When the Charlotte Hornets selected LaMelo Ball with the third-overall pick, the Ball family made NBA history. LaMelo joined his brother Lonzo, who was the second-overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, to become the first brothers to be drafted in the top five.

Photos: Getty Images

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