2013 Year in Review

Top five South Florida sports stories of 2013

 

dneal@MiamiHerald.com

Editor's note: There is an enhanced version of this story available here.

Re-Heat

1 Don’t call the Heat’s players divas. Drama kings? OK. Especially after Miami’s path to a second consecutive NBA title took Game 7 wins in the Eastern Conference finals against Indiana and NBA Finals against San Antonio. The team got to the latter after Ray Allen’s last-ditch three-pointer sent Game 6 into overtime. LeBron James remained the best player in the NBA. Dwyane Wade remained the NBA’s best second-best player on his own team. Chris Bosh still did enough of all the Heat asks him to do.

An Incognito Bully?

2 Dolphins starting right tackle Jonathan Martin, a week after being moved from left tackle, left the team. Soon after, allegations of bullying by teammates, particularly left guard Richie Incognito began leaking along with verbally abusive voicemails left for Martin by Incognito. Locker-room culture and whether it’s a workplace subject to the same rules as corporate cubicle mazes became national conversation. The Dolphins suspended Incognito. The locker room generally defended him. Ironically, the line played better without the two former starters. The NFL investigation into the whole business continues.

Trying to Go Long and Deep

3 Dolphins, Part II. Once the continuous noise over No. 2 faded into occasional updates, the Dolphins emerged as a team comfortable in uncomfortably tight games. Clutch play from players as diverse as quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake to just-added cornerback Michael Thomas led to late-game wins against Cincinnati, San Diego, Pittsburgh and New England. The Dolphins’ run of losing seasons will end. Whether it will be their second playoff appearance in 12 seasons will not be known until late Sunday.

UM relevant, NCAA irrelevant

4 The University of Miami ran off to a once-customary 7-0 record before meeting Florida State. Meanwhile, the NCAA finished two years of investigating the allegations made by Nevin Shapiro to Yahoo Sports — two years during which UM self-imposed bowl bans — and took three scholarships per year for three more years. As UM stumbled to the regular season’s end, fans at least could embrace the idea of UM being able to recruit without the NCAA sword over its head.

Happiness is a Young Gun

5 Marlins rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez constantly laughed, kidded, cheered and generally behaved on the bench like a kid just happy to be playing baseball. Which is what Fernandez was, and he did it spectacularly well. He represented the Marlins in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and won the National League Rookie of the Year Award after going 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts in 172 2/3 innings.

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