The year 2011 has been good to sports fans. The World Series went seven games. The Stanley Cup did, too. The Big 3 came together in Miami and got the same reception as smallpox. Meanwhile, a Packers team that almost missed the playoffs won the Super Bowl. We saw the ascent of Tim Tebow, the birth of Metta World Peace and not to mention a whole lot of Hope Solo. So before we welcome 2012, let’s remember the most badass parts of 2011.
10. Game(s) 162 of the MLB Regular Season
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On a night when the Red Sox and Braves put the finishing touches on two of the worst collapses in Major League Baseball history, four games ended in rapid-fire succession, capped off by a seven-run comeback, walk-off win by the Rays that gave us possibly the most electrifying single night in baseball history. This graph puts the night in perspective. And if that’s not enough this timeline should help.
9. Blake Griffin Mounts Timofey Mozgov
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Blake Griffin made quite an entrance into the NBA during his rookie season of 2010-11, but Madison Square Garden brought out the very best in him. Whenever he came to The Garden, he turned into a Globetrotter. Just, ya know, against actual NBA players paid millions of dollars to be more than props. Except then Knicks center Timofey Mozgov, who made a pretty damn good ladder.
8. Tim Thomas Cuts Down Alex Burrows
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Goalies are notoriously protective of their crease. When you get to 37-year-old Tim Thomas‘ advanced age, you just don’t have patience for young kids hanging out on your lawn–especially in the Stanley Cup Finals (which Thomas’ Bruins won in seven games, causing Canadians to burn down Vancouver).
7. Rooney’s Bicycle Kick
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It’s been a tough 14 months for Wayne Rooney. First, he closed 2010 with a freshly minted prostitute scandal. His coach then accused him of being distracted by off-field issues, like people amassing outside his house and threatening to kill him for wanting to leave Manchester United. He got thrown out of an international game. And worst of all…those hair plugs.
But this play–a contorted, angled bicycle kick off a cross–was perfect. So good that, because no other highlight came close, ESPN’s “Best of the Best” series had no choice but to retire it. Here’s hoping they do the same with Craig James.
6. Myth Of Tebow
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Tim Tebow, the man who launched a million memes, did his usual thing where he throws bounce passes to his teammates for three quarters. Nov. 17 against the Jets was no different.
The Broncos had punted eight straight times when they got the ball on their own 5-yard line with less than six minutes left. Then, over the course of five minutes and 95 yards, Tebow marched Denver down the field, finishing the drive with a weaving scramble to the left that went 20 yards for the score and sent converted millions scurrying to prepare for the Rapture.
5. David Freese and Game 6 of the World Series
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Years from now, when we’re texting our grandchildren, we’ll tell them about the night the Cardinals were a strike away from losing the World Series–twice. How they won that night because David Freese, a local product, tied the game with a two-run, two-out triple in the ninth and then launched a walk-off home run to center field in the 11th. And how, most importantly, it gave us this call.
4. Dirk Does It, Dinged-Up Digit And All
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Against a Heat team with a lower approval rating than Congress, Dirk Nowitzki led the Dallas Mavericks to a huge upset win, hitting two game-winners and earning Finals MVP honors. And he did it all with a torn tendon in his left middle finger that rendered it pretty much useless–like LeBron was in the fourth quarter.
3. Footless Travis Pastrana
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The 2011 X Games featured any number of moments that could crack this list, but Travis Pastrana slides in by actually cracking a body part to get here. After turning his foot and ankle into gravel during the Moto X Best Trick event, Pastrana still decided to compete in RallyCross, and very nearly took third place until a late crash took him out of contention.
2. Abby Wambach’s Goal Against Brazil
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With the U.S. down 2-1 to Brazil in the World Cup quarterfinals–and also down a woman thanks to some truly awful refereeing–the Americans made one final charge down field to tie the game. What followed was a perfectly executed cross from Megan Rapinoe directly to the waiting forehead of Abby Wambagh, who headed it in and sent the game to OT, where the Americans won and drove an entire nation to type a bunch of capital letters on Twitter.
1. Jon “Bones” Jones on March 19
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At 23 years old, Jon Jones became the youngest champ in UFC history when he spent three rounds rearranging the bones in Mauricio “Shogun” Rua’s face during the light heavyweight title bout at UFC 128. But what makes this No. 1 on our list is what happened just hours before, when he took a break from centering his chi to chase down and subdue a would-be robber in Paterson, New Jersey. He wrestled the thief to the ground and subdued him until police arrived. Which was, all things considered, kinder treatment than he gave Rua.
+ Check out the rest of MTV.com’s Best of 2011