For most people, saying goodbye to a year and making resolutions for the next is an end-of-December tradition. While Thanksgiving is a time focused on all the things in life we're thankful for, New Year's Day is a time to reflect on all the crap that didn't happen the way we'd planned it over the past year.
Spoiler alert: A lot of things went sideways in 2020. Nobody saw that shitshow coming.
Considering the circumstances, 2020 was actually a wildly successful year for Miami sports. The Dolphins can make our professional sports teams 4-4 for reaching the postseason, and the Heat damn near won a championship out of nowhere.
Looking back, there was little to complain about or second guess in 2020, sports-wise. What's even more exciting is that 2021 is set up to be an even better year. Here are ten reasons why.
Fans will have a newfound appreciation for attending games. Once we can all agree that COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror, my guess is there will be a lot of things people will want to do that they had taken for granted before. Whether it's something as small as going out to eat or going to a Miami Dolphins game, we'll all have a greater appreciation for the most basic things we once did without a thought.
If there's one thing that will make being a Miami sports fan the best in 2021, it's going back to the way we were all fans in 2019. Win or lose.
The Miami Hurricanes will get a test against Alabama. The Miami Hurricanes were a top 15 team all season before losing to Oklahoma State in their bowl game this week, and most would agree it was because of their quarterback, D'Eriq King. King was 50/50 on returning to school next year but recently announced he'll return to Miami in 2021. Sadly, he hurt his knee in the bowl game, and his status for next season is up in the air.
No matter who is quarterback when the 2021 season starts, Alabama will be the first team on the schedule. Hurricanes fans will get a seat at the big-boy table right away next year. Depending on what you think of the team, that's either good news or bad news. No matter which side you fall on, it's must-see appointment viewing.
Win or lose, the Marlins are making history. The Marlins have an exciting team lined up to take the field next season, but the most intriguing narrative entering their season will be watching their new general manager, Kim Ng, do her job. Ng is the first female GM in all of sports and is, by all accounts, an incredibly qualified, smart woman.
The story of Kim Ng's life could very well be a movie in the future. Watching that movie play out in real time should be one of the most interesting experiences a Miami sports fan has ever had.
Maybe the real NFL playoffs are the Fitzmagic moments we had along the way.— Ryan Yousefi (@Rizzmiggiz) January 4, 2021
The Dolphins are set to add a lot of talent. In the NFL, you're usually a good team or a bad team with lots of draft picks. In 2021, the Dolphins will be both. Thanks to some remodeling over the last few seasons that saw good players traded for future picks, the Dolphins are going to be a playoff-caliber team with a top-five pick in the NFL draft. They'll also pick twice in the second round.
Miami is already a fun team with lots of young players. In 2021, they'll add an entirely new draft class of young talent to a team that's already set up to win.
The Heat will be a player in NBA free agency. Everything the Miami Heat has been doing over the course of the last three years has been in preparation for the 2021 free agent period. Even though some of the bigger names are off the list of potentially available stars, Miami still has enough money to get a sitdown with some of the best names in the game.
At the top of the available player list will likely be Kawhi Leonard, fresh off a second disastrous season in Los Angeles. Miami would need to make a move or two to completely afford him, but if the Heat sticks with the roster it has now, it's entirely possible it could be done, just like it was done to fit LeBron and Chris Bosh in 2010.
The second biggest summer in Heat history could be in 2021. A super team could be to follow.
"Sixto Day" is here. Last season, Marlins fans only got a small taste of uber prospect Sixto Sanchez. This season, he'll be an enormous part of the team from Opening Day.
It's not clear yet if fans will be allowed in Marlins Park this year, but if the season is delayed until May, as rumored, then there's a good chance that enough people will have been vaccinated by then that some fans are allowed inside. That means "Sixto Day" is coming every time Sanchez makes a home start.
The excitement around those games (and being able to attend live sporting events again) gives you goosebumps just thinking about it.
James Harden dropped 44 points & 17 assists last night ???? Does he fit the culture ? pic.twitter.com/niuQ2qEv4M— Heat Nation (@HeatNationCom) December 27, 2020
The Miami Heat has some decisions to make. The Heat was literally just in the NBA Finals, but a huge percentage of its fans are in favor of trading more than half of the team for one player: James Harden. It may or may not happen, but regardless of the outcome, it should be incredibly exciting to watch play out.
The Heat are a team on the rise, with or without James Harden. But if Pat Riley decides to risk it all and pair Harden with Bam and Jimmy Butler, suddenly the Heat is entering a Big Three 2.0 era. Sounds like fun to me.
Tua Tagovailoa will lead the Dolphins to the playoffs. Although 2021 will not begin with a Miami Dolphins playoff game, come this time next year, the Miami Dolphins will likely be ending next season with a postseason run. The Dolphins are set up to compete for a title for a long time, thanks to their young roster and incoming draft picks.
For the foreseeable future, Tua and the Dolphins should make Dolphins fans remember the days when December and January were prime Dolphins football territory.
Could 2021 be the year the Panthers don't Panther it? It's become a tradition like no other: The Florida Panthers entering a season with expectations, only to soil themselves late in the year. Now, they enter a promising season with a new general manager, Bill Zito.
The Panthers haven't made many splashes as of late, but they've reorganized things in a way that seems promising. Next year could be the year that hockey in Broward once again is something people in Miami pay attention to.
Inter Miami gets an actual introduction. David Beckham and Inter Miami got a raw deal. After years of waiting for the stars to align, Inter Miami became a reality in 2020, until it promptly, after a pair of games, got screwed up because of COVID, as everything else did.
In 2021, Inter Miami should get a fresh start. The team may even have some fans in the stands, eventually. Beckham has a long way to go before he can say he brought soccer to Miami, but 2021 feels like the actual beginning of it happening, rather than whatever 2020 was.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.