Top 2021 sports moments: UCLA’s Final Four run; Dodgers thrive despite Trevor Bauer

Collage of 2021 sports figures of note Shohei Ohtani, Lincoln Riley, Nia Dennis, Allyson Felix and Johnny Juzang
Clockwise from top left: Angels’ Shohei Ohtani (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press); new USC football coach Lincoln Riley (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times); UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times); U.S. track star Allyson Felix (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times); UCLA basketball player Johnny Juzang (Darron Cummings / Associated Press)
(Staff and wire)
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FILE - Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda celebrates after the Dodgers beat the Montreal Expos.
Tommy Lasorda
(Associated Press)

— Former USC swimmer Klete Keller is arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot
— The Rams execute rare quarterback-for-quarterback trade and acquire Matthew Stafford from Detroit in exchange for Jared Goff, two first-round picks and more.
— Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda dies
— Chargers hire Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley as their new head coach.
— UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis performs a Black excellence routine that goes viral

UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis is a viral sensation, with a floor routine that tells a deeply personal story: “I know who I am as a woman and a Black woman at that.”

Feb. 12, 2021



The vehicle rests on its side after a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods in Rancho Palos Verdes.
Tiger Woods’ SUV
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)


— Golf star Tiger Woods was “lucky to be alive” after being seriously injured in a rollover crash near Rancho Palos Verdes, the Los Angeles County sheriff said

Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka and other high-profile athletes pushed mental health issues to the forefront of conversations in sports and beyond in 2021.

Dec. 9, 2021



Elgin Baylor stands next to a statue in his likeness, just unveiled, outside Staples Center
Elgin Baylor
(Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

High school sports resume after extended pandemic interruption
— Clippers legend Elgin Baylor dies

The first Friday night of high school spring football had one common theme among players, coaches, parents and organizers: resolve.

March 12, 2021



UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr. (4) and Cody Riley (2) react after the Bruins' loss to Gonzaga
Jaime Jaquez Jr. (4) and Cody Riley (2)
(Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images)

— UCLA falls to Gonzaga in epic Final Four game, ending Bruins’ dramatic tournament run
Fans return, starting with games at Angel and Dodger stadiums


In one of the best games in NCAA Final Four history, UCLA did not deserve to lose on one of the most unlikely final shots in tournament history.

April 4, 2021



Michael Jordan, left, holds the hand of Vanessa Bryant after Kobe Bryant was enshrined in the Hall of Fame
Michael Jordan, left, holds the hand of Vanessa Bryant after Kobe Bryant was enshrined with the 2020 Hall of Fame class May 15 in Uncasville, Conn.
(Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

Kobe Bryant is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
— After a contentious early exit from his Angels contract, Albert Pujols signs with the Dodgers
— Local trainer Bob Baffert learns his Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit, tested positive for a medication not allowed on race day
Lakers lose to eventual the Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs

Lakers legend Kobe Bryant will be inducted posthumously into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.

May 12, 2021



Clippers guard Paul George bends in front of a Western Conference Finals sign
Clippers guard Paul George
(Matt York / Associated Press)

Trevor Bauer pitches his last game for the Dodgers and is placed on administrative leave that spans the remainder of the season after a woman accused him of sexual assault
— Clippers make the franchise’s first trip to the conference finals, losing in six games to the Phoenix Suns with Kawhi Leonard missing the series because of a knee injury
— The Skaggs family sues the Angels over Tyler Skaggs’ overdose death

Upon signing Trevor Bauer, the Dodgers cited a thorough vetting process; now Bauer’s career as a Dodger is in limbo. How a $102-million risk went wrong.

July 25, 2021



San Francisco, CA - October 14: Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer reacts.
Max Scherzer
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic flame and Simone Biles later pulls out of the Olympic all-around competition
Shohei Ohtani pitches and hits during the MLB All-Star game. After leading the league in home runs at times throughout the season, he was named a unanimous MVP
— The Dodgers acquire Max Scherzer and Trea Turner on the same day the Lakers acquire Russell Westbrook
Collin Morikawa of La Cañada wins the British Open for his second major championship, arguably making him the most successful golfer born in Los Angeles County
Terry Donahue, longtime UCLA football coach and winningest in Pac-12 history, dies


Lakers star Russell Westbrook is known as the intense triple-double machine of the NBA, but he’s sick of his reputation and ready to open up.

Oct. 19, 2021



USA's Allyson Felix smiles after winning the bronze medal in the 400m race at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Allyson Felix
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

— Costa Mesa’s April Ross and Manhattan Beach’s Alix Klineman win Olympic gold
— Los Angeles native and USC alum Allyson Felix becomes the most decorated U.S. track and field Olympian of all time, increasing her medal total to 11
— Los Angeles native Jrue Holiday follows his first NBA title with a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics three weeks later

Jrue Holiday quickly found his role on defense for the U.S. men’s basketball team and flourished in it during the run for an Olympic gold medal.

Aug. 7, 2021



LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - SEP 11, 2021. USC head coach Clay Helton leaves the field after loss to Stanford
Clay Helton
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

SoFi Stadium hosts its first NFL game with fans in attendance
USC fires Clay Helton after historically ugly home loss to Stanford
— Dodgers Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrín announces he will retire in 2022

USC’s administration set points throughout the season when it would evaluate Clay Helton’s performance. Stanford was the first — and last, it turned out — of four planned benchmarks.

Sept. 14, 2021



Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf (15) is honored after a win, during which scored his 1,000th goal. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Ryan Getzlaf
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)


Chris Taylor hits three home runs in a single game as the Dodgers beat the Giants in the NLDS
Candace Parker, who spent 12 seasons leading the Sparks, wins a WNBA title in her first season with her hometown Chicago Sky
Four Southland natives helps the Atlanta Braves defeat the Dodgers to advance to the World Series, with each having big moments while winning the title — Freddie Freeman, Travis d’Arnaud, Tyler Matzek and Max Fried. They later defeat the Astros to win it all.
Ryan Getzlaf becomes the leading scorer in Ducks franchise history and a few weeks later reaches 1,000 NHL career points

Former Sparks star Candace Parker joined the Sky during the offseason with the goal of bringing home a championship. She is one win away from a title and has Chicago roaring.

Oct. 16, 2021



LOS ANGELES, CA - November 29 2021: Lincoln Riley is announced as the new head football coach.
Lincoln Riley
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

No. 2 UCLA basketball beats No. 4 Villanova in overtime at sold-out Pauley Pavilion
USC hires Lincoln Riley
Breeders’ Cup held at Del Mar with a massive screw up on the winner of a 2-year-old race resulting in a cascade of boos from fans. Also, a Baffert horse wins the Juvenile, even though Churchill Downs excluded Bob Baffert from the Kentucky Derby.
— The Rams and NFL reach a $790-million settlement with St. Louis over the Rams’ relocation.

‘The word ‘snake’ is being used a lot’: How new USC football coach Lincoln Riley may have replaced Kevin Durant as Oklahoma’s public enemy number one.

Dec. 5, 2021



A rendering of Staples Center after the completion of its rebranding as Arena.
A rendering of Staples Center after the completion of its rebranding as Arena.

— The MLB lockout begins, with the two sides far apart and the upcoming season in jeopardy
UCLA goes to a bowl game
— Staples Center becomes Arena
— Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit dies after a workout at Santa Anita


MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and players union chief Tony Clark staged separate news conferences Thursday, with each side blaming the other for the lockout.

Dec. 2, 2021