WHAT a year in American sport it has been.
Records have been broken, history has been made and superstar athletes have achieved what the extraordinary.
Throughout 2015 there has been 10 moments which stand out more than the rest.
Our top 10 list includes two of sports’ most polarizing fighters, a couple of professional franchises which are riding the crest of a wave and many other sporting personalities that made headlines throughout the year.
Starting at No.10 we have an NBA legend who announced his retirement at the end of the season.
No.10 – Kobe’s farewell tour
On November 29, 2015, Kobe Bryant announced that he would be retiring at the end of the 2015/2016 season with the L.A Lakers, the only team he played for in his 19-year career.
Bryant was a special talent on the basketball court and was only one of a handful of players to be drafted fresh out of high school. Bryant was drafted 13th pick overall in the 1996 draft and his career has yielded five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVP’s and 17 All-Star selections.
Kobe’s farewell tour will continue through to the end of the 2015/16 season and that makes every game a special event.
No.9 – Patriots win Super Bowl 49 on miraculous play
Sometimes the off-field antics at the Super Bowl overshadow what actually happens on the field, but at Super Bowl 49, all eyes were on the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.
The teams were tied at halftime 14-14, but the Seahawks took a commanding 10-point lead entering the fourth and final quarter. That was before Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led his team down the field on two occasions and eventually gave the Patriots a 28-24 lead late in the game.
The biggest moment came when Seattle had driven down to the Patriots 1-yard line with only 26 seconds remaining. Everyone expected Seattle to hand the ball off to star running back Marshawn Lynch, but instead Seahawks QB Russell Wilson threw a short pass intended for Ricardo Locette which was intercepted by Malcolm Butler.
No. 8 – Holly Holm upsets Ronda Rousey
It was supposed to be yet another win for the then UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title holder Ronda Rousey at UFC #193, but no one told that to Holly Holm.
Holm came into the fight as the overwhelming underdog, but left the undefeated Ronda Rousey looking second rate throughout the fight. With many punters thinking Rousey would win in the first round, it was shocking to see the fight enter Round 2.
What was more shocking and worthy of our No. 8 moment of 2015, Holly Holm sent Rousey to the ground and then dealt her final blow with a devastating round-kick to the back-left side of Rousey’s head, knocking her out and causing the biggest upset in UFC history.
The Holm vs. Rousey rematch is set for July 3, 2016 where Rousey is the $1.66 favourite at Bovada.
No.7 – Golden State take over the NBA
The Golden State Warriors won the 2014/2015 NBA Championship by defeating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This is our No.7 moment because 2015 unearthed the amazing talent that is Stephen Curry. The son of an NBA legend, Curry took the game by storm in 2015 with his ability to shoot quickly and accurately from anywhere on the court, not to mention some silky ball-handling skills.
It was on the back of his play which led the Warriors to their first title since 1975. Curry continues to dominate the 2015/16 season as the Warriors seek back-to-back titles, leading all players in points scored.
No. 6 – Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch won the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in a year that resembled something off a Jerry Springer episode.
Earlier in 2015, there were grave concerns about the mental health of Kurt Busch (Kyle’s brother) who had claimed his ex-wife was trying to kill him.
Kyle was able to put his family problems behind him and storm to a famous victory in the Sprint Cup. NASCAR isn’t the biggest betting sport around, but it’s one of the biggest sports in America and this season showed us why.
NASCAR returns in February for the Sprint Unlimited.
No.5 – The bat flip heard around the world
Jose Bautista isn’t called ‘Joey Bats’ for nothing, and in the 2015 MLB American League Division Series an epic moment took place in Toronto.
With the series tied at 2-2 against the Texas Rangers, Jose Bautista stepped up to the plate in the seventh inning with his team trailing. What comes next was the coolest moment of 2015.
Bautista hits a three-run homer to send the crowd into mayhem, but it was the celebratory bat flip of Bautista which will be remembered for years to come.
We’ll leave it at that – a thing of beauty.
No. 4 – Serena Williams
It wouldn’t seem right to leave Serena Williams off our list. The American tennis champion won just about everything there is to win in 2015 and although she was unable to win the full calendar slam, her efforts weren’t undervalued.
In 2015, Serena Williams won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, but her dream of winning all four grand slams in one year was cut short by Simona Halep in the U.S Open semi-finals.
A gallant effort in our eyes and Serena is set to dominate women’s tennis once again in 2016.
No. 3 – Mayweather vs, Pacquiao
Labeled the “Fight of the Century”, Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao finally took place on May 2, 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Mayweather was vying to keep his unbeaten record of 47-0 in tact and his main rival Pacquiao was looking to likely end his career by capturing the WBA, WBC and WBO welterweight titles.
The fight appeared close, but the judges ultimately ruled in favour of Floyd Mayweather by unanimous decision.
Many fans were disgruntled by the fight as a viewing spectacle, but everything surrounding this fight lived up to our expectations and it was our No.3 moment of 2015.
No. 2 – Jordan Spieth
With the legend that is Tiger Woods quickly deteriorating from golf, America was in need of a new superstar and Jordan Spieth rose to the challenge.
22-year-old Spieth took the golfing world by storm in 2015 by winning both the U.S Masters at Augusta and the U.S Open later in the year at Chambers Bay, Washington.
Not only was he a multiple major winner, Spieth padded those results with a tied-fourth in the Open Championship and a second in the PGA Championship.
Such a year hasn’t been recorded since Tiger Woods dominated in the 2000’s and Spieth looks to be the new superstar of golf.
No. 1 – American Pharoah’s Triple Crown
Not since Affirmed in 1978 had a horse won the American Triple Crown, but in 2015 a misspelled horse by the name of American Pharoah added its name to the short list.
In order to win the Triple Crown, one horse must win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, which American Pharoah did in fine style in 2015.
The Bob Baffert-trained colt was the dream horse every American racegoer had hoped to see in their lifetime. Winning the Triple Crown had seemed an impossibility for many years and punters weren’t expecting the son of Pioneerof The Nile to win all three Group 1’s.
American Pharoah also retired in 2015 having won nine from its 11 career starts with earnings in excess of $8.6 million. Now going to stud, American Pharoah will forever be in horse racing history and is clearly our No.1 pick of 2015.