Dan Wheldon killed in Indy Car crash
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Made us look: Sports news that got our attention in 2011

Dan Wheldon killed in Indy Car crash
Dan Wheldon, the 2011 Indianapolis 500 winner, was fatally injured Oct. 16 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 33-year-old driver got caught in a multi-car crash on Lap 13 of the IndyCar Series season finale and succumbed to his injuries after the collision. Two other IndyCar drivers involved in the 15-car wreck were treated for minor injuries. (Jessica Ebelhar / Associated Press)
Penn State and the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal
Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested Nov. 5 on charges that he sexually abused young boys, and two high-ranking Penn State administrators have been charged with lying about their knowledge of the crimes. On Nov. 9, Penn State trustees fired legendary head coach Joe Paterno, Sandusky’s former boss, and ousted the school’s president Graham Spanier. Students were outraged with Paterno’s dismissal and caused a mini-riot at the school(Paul Vathis / Associated Press)
The final day of the regular baseball season
After one of the most thrilling regular-season conclusions in baseball history, the sports world was abuzz with scenes of champagne-filled euphoria in some clubhouses and demoralized agony in others.

The St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays won the National and American league wild-card playoff berths, while the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox were eliminated. Pictured, the Tampa Bay Rays swarming third basemen Evan Longoria. (Brian Blanco / European Pressphoto Agency)
Ron Artest changes his name to Metta World Peace
According to World Peace’s publicist, Courtney Barnes, the Lakers forward had been contemplating the switch for years but “it took years of research and soul-searching to find a first name that was both personally meaningful and inspirational.” Metta is a Buddhist term that means loving kindness and friendliness toward others.

Artest -- er, World Peace -- had hoped to adopt the new moniker in August but was rebuffed because of an outstanding traffic ticket. Ticket paid, World Peace can now reign. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Serena Williams fined for outburst against Eva Asderaki at U.S. Open
Serena Williams was fined $2,000 for her verbal outburst against chair umpire Eva Asderaki during a U.S. Open women’s final on Sept. 11.

In a statement, U.S. Open tournament referee Brian Earley said the fine was for the code violation of verbal abuse. Williams launched into a verbal tirade and was heard to say, “What a loser,” “You’re a hater,” “A code violation because I expressed who I am? Really. Don’t even look at me. I promise you, don’t look at me. ... Don’t look my way.” And, in a comment that could be interpreted as threatening, she said, “If you ever see me walking down the hall, walk the other way.” (Matt Slocum / Associated Press)
Oscar De La Hoya tells of drug use, cheating, thinking of suicide
On Oct. 31, Oscar De La Hoya revealed to the public that he struggled with cocaine, alcohol and infidelity -- and has even contemplated suicide.

“Rock bottom was recently,” the boxing great said in an interview with Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, according to an English-language transcript it provided. “Within a couple of years, just thinking if my life was even worth it. I don’t have the strength, I don’t have the courage to take my own life but I was thinking about it.”

De La Hoya, who retired in 2009 after winning 10 world titles in six divisions, said he had been sober for three months. (Patrick McDermott / Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who many thought wasn’t ready to succeed Brett Favre, completed 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-25 wire-to-wire win against the Pittsburgh Steelers(Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty Images)
Paulina Gretzky ends racy Twitter account after chat with Dad, Wayne
The 22-year-old Paulina Gretzky unexpectedly shut down her Twitter which had more than 24,000 followers -- apparently after a chat with her father. Gretzky said in one of her last posts: “Having a nice sit down dinner with my dad about social media..haha.” Then came her final tweet on Nov. 26: “Taking a break from Twitter for a bit. Happy Holidays!!! xoxo.”

Some suggest that the move might have something to do with reports that Gretzky’s father may be involved in a potential purchase of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  (Twitter / The Chive / New England Sports Network)
NASCAR driver Kurt Busch goes off, parts ways with sponsor
NASCAR driver Kurt Busch ended his relationship with the Penske Racing team after he was fined $50,000 for an off-track incident. During the Sprint Cup series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Busch was caught on video using an obscene gesture and launching into a profanity-laced tirade toward ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch. The incident was posted on YouTube(Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images for NASCAR)
Angels reach 10-year deal with Albert Pujols
The Angels made the biggest free-agent splash in their team history Dec. 8 when they reached an agreement with slugger Albert Pujols on a 10-year deal for at least $250 million. His bat provides a significant boost to an Angels lineup that ranked 10th in the American League with 667 runs last season. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Floyd Mayweather defeats Victor Ortiz by knockout
Floyd Mayweather knocked out Victor Ortiz in stunning fashion in the fourth round of their welterweight title fight on Sept. 17, but the finish probably cemented his reputation as a villain in the eyes of most boxing fans.

Late in the fourth round, Ortiz head-butted Mayweather and was given a warning by referee Joe Cortez. Ortiz apologized to Mayweather, and leaned in to him as if to give him a hug while Cortez seemingly gave a weak signal for the fight to resume. Mayweather used the opening to throw a hard right that knocked Ortiz out. (John Gurzinski / AFP / Getty Images)
UCLA fires Rick Neuheisel
UCLA football coach Rick Neuheisel was fired Nov. 28 after a four-year run in which the Bruins had a 21-28 record. The day before the firing, the Bruins had just come off a 50-0 loss to USC, the worst conference loss in school history.

Neuheisel, a former UCLA quarterback, was greeted with much fanfare when he replaced Karl Dorrell in 2007, but managed to get the Bruins to a bowl game only once in the three previous seasons. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Dallas Mavericks end Lakers championship run
In a game not befitting the long and successful career of Coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers were embarrassed by the Dallas Mavericks, 122-86, and swept out of the Western Conference semifinals, four game to none. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Kissing couple during the Vancouver riot?
While parts of the city were crumbling around them after a riot broke out after the Vancouver Canucks’ loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, one couple decided it was time to show some affection, or so it seemed.. It turns out that the couple had been knocked down by police and that the boyfriend was trying to comfort his distraught girlfriend. The result? The above picture. (Richard Lam / Getty Images)
Brawl breaks out at U.S.-China ‘goodwill’ basketball game
A brawl broke out Aug. 18 during an exhibition basketball game between Georgetown University and a Chinese team in a contest that was intended to be a goodwill gesture coinciding with Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to China.

The fight occurred with 9 1/2 minutes left in the game as both teams’ benches ran onto the court. The foul-filled contest between Georgetown and the Bayi Rockets was immediately called off once order was restored. The teams were tied, 64-64, when the game ended. (Screengrab from YouTube)
Skirmish between football coaches Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz
A hard handshake, a dismissive shove and a shoulder bump is all it took to reduce a couple of spectacular coaches to a spectacle.

San Francisco 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh had every right to be excited Oct. 16 after his team knocked off previously unbeaten Detroit. Likewise, Lions Coach Jim Schwartz had every right to be upset after his team’s first loss of the season.

But maybe Harbaugh was a bit unprofessional when he didn’t stop celebrating during the coaches’ postgame handshake, basically slapping Schwartz’s hand and back as if he was congratulating one of his own players (Schwartz later claimed there also was an obscenity involved, although he did not offer any further details). And perhaps Schwartz overreacted when he pursued Harbaugh across the field and had to be physically prevented from trying to do who knows what to the opposing coach. (Leon Halip / Getty Images)
Was Bob Knight drinking a beer while broadcasting the Duke game?
Legendary Coach Bob Knight was on hand at Madison Square Garden Nov. 15 as his record for most coaching victories went down in flames. Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski passed him as the winningest Division I college basketball coach when the No. 6 Blue Devils defeated Michigan State, 74-69.

In fact, Knight was working the game as an analyst for ESPN. And it appears the sadness of losing his record may have gotten to him, as there was a shot of him drinking what appeared to be a beer during the game. (@AOliva3 Twitter page)
Tiger Woods wins first golf tournament since scandal erupted
Tiger Woods won his first golf tournament in two years Dec. 4 when he sank a birdie putt on the 18th hole to edge Zach Johnson by one shot and capture the Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks.

It was Woods’ first win since the world’s former No. 1 golfer was engulfed in a personal scandal that erupted Thanksgiving weekend in 2009. (Scott Halleran / Getty Images)
Ndamukong Suh has a foot-stomping good time against Packers
Ndamukong Suh, the Detroit Lions defensive tackle, was suspended by the NFL for two games after an ugly incident on Thanksgiving Day.

During the third quarter of the Lions’ 27-15 loss to Green Bay, Suh shoved the helmet of the PackersEvan Dietrich-Smith into the turf and stomped on his arm. Suh was ejected from the game for kicking.  (Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)
Frank McCourt agrees to sell Dodgers
On Nov. 1, Frank McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers, surrendering the team he fought to retain for two years and in two courts.

McCourt and Major League Baseball agreed to seek approval from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for an auction of the Dodgers. The sale is expected to include the team, Dodger Stadium and the surrounding parking lots, a package bought by McCourt for $421 million in 2004 and likely to sell now for two to three times as much. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Michigan high school basketball player dies after making winning shot
Wes Leonard of Fennville (Mich.) High sealed his team’s undefeated season with a game-winning layup with 30 seconds remaining in overtime March 3. Then tragedy struck. After teammates and fans rushed the court to celebrate the victory, Leonard collapsed to the ground and later died.

Paramedics performed CPR on the 16-year-old junior, but he was pronounced dead at Holland Hospital, spokeswoman Deb Patterson said.

Wes, who was also quarterback of the school’s football team, had scored more than 1,000 points in his basketball career at Fennville. He was “by far the best player on that basketball team — outstanding athlete,” said Bridgman (Mich.) Coach Mike Miller(Dennis Geppert / Associated Press)
USC 50, UCLA 0 (final)
In the last game of the season for USC, the Bruins had no answer for Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley. He finished the game having completed 35 of 42 passes for 423 yards and a school-record-tying six touchdowns. USC Coach Lane Kiffin said, “It’s a great day for the Trojans.” (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Blake Griffin wins slam dunk contest by jumping over a car
Clippers rookie power forward Blake Griffin won the Slam Dunk contest by leaping over a compact car while catching a pass from teammate Baron Davis through the sunroof and then slamming the ball through the rim with two hands Feb. 19 at Staples Center.

The final round was scored by fans nationwide.

Griffin defeated Wizards center JaVale McGee, who did a one-handed catch and dunk in his final attempt.  (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
World Series Game 6
The Cardinals rallied from deficits five times before winning the game on David Freese‘s two-strike home run leading off the 11th inning against the Texas Rangers.

Despite making three errors, managing just three hits through the first seven innings, stranding 11 men on base and going 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position, St. Louis won, staving off elimination. (Whitney Curtis / EPA)
After winning his first NFL game against the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 23, the Denver BroncosTim Tebow knelt on one knee, touched his fist to his forehead and prayed.

His act has now been assigned its own verb.

Tebowing, according to tebowing.com, is defined as “to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.”  (Ron Chenoy / US Presswire)
The Chris Paul trade that wasn’t
The Lakers’ deal for New Orleans guard Chris Paul was killed Dec. 8 by the NBA, which owns the Hornets franchise.

“It is not true that owners killed the deal,” said NBA spokesman Tim Frank. “It wasn’t even discussed at the Board [of Governors] meeting. The league office declined to make the trade for basketball reasons.”

NBA commisioner David Stern later explained in a statement, “In the case of the trade proposal that was made to the Hornets for Chris Paul, we decided, free from the influence of other NBA owners, that the team was better served with Chris in a Hornets uniform than by the outcome of the terms of that trade.” (Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)