Thankfully, one of the few things we've been able to salvage this year is something near normalcy when it comes to memorable sports moments. After prolonged delays, the NBA, NHL, and MLB were able to finish their seasons, and the NFL and college football have managed to tippy-toe through a minefield of positive tests and rescheduled games.
Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks, so in honor of the holiday and our local athletes sacrificing their safety for our entertainment, we'd like to relive and highlight the Miami sports moments we're most thankful for in 2020.
These almost didn't happen, but they did. And they've made 2020 suck just a little less.
"You're in trouble." Through two games of the 2020 NBA Finals, it did not look great for your Miami Heat. Goran Dragic was out of the series indefinitely, and Bam Adebayo missed the majority of the games because of a neck injury. During a sequence in Game 3 when the Lakers had a sizable lead, LeBron James was caught on camera talking spicy to Tyler Herro. When Jimmy Butler stepped in, LeBron told him the Miami Heat were in a bit of trouble in the series.
After sealing the game with one minute left, Butler returned the favor, letting LeBron know it was clear he was the one in trouble because Butler had just dropped a 40-point triple-double on the Lakers' candy asses.
The Heat won Game 3, and then Game 5 in a very similar fashion. The team, of course, eventually lost the series, but maybe the real NBA championship was the friends we made along the way.
The "you're in trouble" moment will forever stay close to our hearts.
The Dolphins select Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth-overall pick in the NFL draft. Thanks to COVID, the NFL had to call an audible and move the NFL draft from Las Vegas to couches across America. The end result for Miami Dolphins fans, however, was as good as ever.
After a season of "tanking for Tua," Tua Tagovailoa actually became a Dolphin. The news came during a downtime in sports, and it's given Dolphins fans something to be excited about ever since. For that, we're thankful.
Dwyane Wade's jersey retirement. Back in February, the Heat honored the franchise's greatest star by hoisting Dwyane Wade’s jersey up to the rafters. Wade joins Chris Bosh, Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning, and Tim Hardaway as the only Heat players to have their numbers retired.
This, of course, came just before the world practically ended and our entire lives got turned upside down, but we're thankful to have snuck in the ceremony. Even if it should have never happened because, you know, in 2020, crowds aren't great!
The Miami Marlins clinch a playoffs appearance for the first time since 2003. There are Miami Marlins fans who are seniors in high school who had never seen their favorite baseball team make the playoffs. This year, that finally changed. The Marlins overcame an entire team infected with COVID, a month of postponed games, and a depleted roster to make the playoffs.
Don Mattingly won National League Manager of the Year. The Marlins made a huge leap in their rebuilding project. Times are good down at Marlins Park. We can't wait to join them next season (vaccine permitting!).
The Marlins sweep the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs. Speaking of the Marlins, they didn't just make the playoffs — they thrived in them. Most Marlins fans would have been happy if the team just made the playoffs. The Marlins did them one better, though, taking the Wild Card round from the heavily favored Chicago Cubs.
The series win cemented 2020 as one of the most remarkable seasons in franchise history, especially when you factor in that the Marlins lost a majority of the team roster to COVID early in the season. Marlins fans were thankful the team made the playoffs, and they were downright giddy when they advanced.
Jimmy Butler blows T.J. Warren goodbye kisses. Jimmy Butler blowing a kiss to the Pacers' T.J. Warren happened in January 2020, which feels like four years ago, but technically is this year. With the Heat blowing out the Pacers, Warren and Butler got into a scuffle. Both players were assessed a technical, and the game restarted. Literally 20 seconds later, they got into another scuffle, but this time Butler baited Warren and the Pacers forward got ejected.
You could see the embarrassment on Warren's face when he realized what had happened, and Butler proceeding to blow him goodbye kisses surely didn't make things any better for his ego. It was a glorious night.
Tua Tagovailoa soaks it all in following his NFL debut. Back in October, Tua Tagovailoa saw the field for the first time. Yeah, it was for the final handful of plays in a 24-0 win, but the seal was broken on the player Dolphins fans were most excited about seeing perform this year.
Following the game, Tua came back onto the field from the locker room to soak it all in. Nearly a year after suffering a catastrophic injury in college, he was back on the field living his dream. Photos of the moment will be iconic for the rest of his career if he goes on to be the player many believe he will be. This moment felt like the start of something special.
Tua pulls a Houdini in the Dolphins' thrilling 34-31 win over Arizona. If there's one play Dolphins fans will be able to point to as the moment when Tua Tagovailoa truly arrived in Miami, it's that time he pulled a disappearing act and scrambled for a first down late in the Dolphins' thrilling comeback win over Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. This is the sort of moment Dolphins fans have been waiting decades for.
Not just a win. Not just a play. But something that makes you go WOW. Not since Ricky Williams was breaking long runs have Dolphins fans felt these sorts of vibes. Not since Dan Marino have they seen it from the quarterback position.
Dwyane Wade goes undercover and gifts Derrick Jones Jr. the Slam Dunk champion title. You know you're a legend in South Florida sports when you make two of the top sports moments the first year you're retired. Dwyane Wade found himself judging the All-Star Weekend dunk contest when it came down to Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon and Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr.
You know what happened from there. The above video lays it out nicely, but as a refresher, Wade rigged that shit and gave the Heat a win from the inside. It was hilarious and downright rude.
Bam Adebayo and "The Block Heard Around the World." In a year when most Heat fans have spent far too much time sitting on the couch, Bam Adebayo made them jump off their sofas and hit their heads on the ceiling in excitement.
If there's one single moment Heat fans will remember from the team's deep run into the NBA Finals, it will be Bam's block of Jayson Tatum in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. The block set the tone for sending the Heat into the finals and was said to have been the best defensive play in the playoffs some had ever seen.
Bam Adebayo is an absolute unit, and the Celtics found out the hard way. So blessed. So thankful.
Jimmy Butler leaves it all on the floor in Game 5. One of the most iconic photos in Miami Heat history will always be Jimmy Butler hunched over a barrier behind the basket after being fouled late in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. With the Heat down 3-1 and fighting their hearts out to stay in the NBA bubble for one more night, Butler led them to a triumphant win in Game 5 that pushed the series to a sixth game.
The Heat was out of gas after this game. The Lakers' blowout win in Game 6 was evidence of that. But Heat fans will always point to this photo of an exhausted Jimmy Butler as a picture that speaks a thousand words about Miami Heat culture.