On the same day that newly released video showed images of Ray Rice striking his then-fiancee inside an Atlantic City Casino hotel elevator, the Baltimore Ravens terminated his contract and the NFL suspended the running back indefinitely.
2 of 22Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
July 13 - Germany wins World Cup
Germany defeated Argentina, 1-0, in a thriller that saw no goals until Mario Götze’s screamer past Sergio Aguero in the 114th minute. It was Germany’s first Cup since the country’s unification in 1991 and its fourth overall.
3 of 22Greg Nelson/SI
July 11 - LeBron James chooses to return to Cleveland
LeBron James took the world by storm by announcing his decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a letter published by SI.com James’ decision came after he spent four years with the Miami Heat, winning two championships. The letter directly contrasts with his infamous announcement, The Decision, on ESPN, which was highly criticized for humiliating an entire city on national television. James explained in the letter that he’d learned from his mistakes four years earlier and decided to come home by announcing it in a low-key fashion.
4 of 22John W. McDonough/SI
June 15 - Spurs win fifth NBA Championship
The San Antonio Spurs dominated the Miami Heat in their rematch of last year's NBA Finals, winning the series 4-1 on Father's Day. The Spurs won their four games by an average of 14.0 points, the most ever. For Kawhi Leonard, the Finals MVP, his achievement was bittersweet because Leonard's father was senselessly murdered when he was a junior in high school.
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June 15 - Martin Kaymer wins U.S. Open
In a record-setting performance, Martin Kaymer of Germany won the 2014 U.S. Open by eight strokes, becoming the first continental European to win the tournament in a wire-to-wire victory, in which he left all other competitors in the dust.
6 of 22Donald Miralle/SI
June 13 - L.A. Kings take Stanley Cup
The Los Angeles Kings defeated the New York Rangers in 5 games, culminated by a double OT goal by Alec Martinez, to clinch the series for the Kings at home.
7 of 22Elsa/Getty Images
May 8 - Johnny Manziel's NFL draft adventure
Johnny Manziel, whose legend continues growing at astronomic rates even before playing in the NFL, surprisingly fell to the Cleveland Browns, being picked 22nd in the 1st Round of the NFL Draft. Jadeveon Clowney was picked first overall, by the Houston Texans.
8 of 22Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
May 6 - Kevin Durant named NBA MVP
After years of falling short to LeBron James, Kevin Durant finally won his first MVP award. In light of all his achievements, the most important part of his acceptance speech came at the end, when he turned to his mother and said "You are the real MVP".
9 of 22Greg Nelson/SI, Mark J. Terrill/AP (inset)
April 29 - Donald Sterling banned for life
After the public release of an audio recording between Clippers owner Donald Sterling expressing racist views to his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, NBA commissioner Adam Silver moved swiftly on a league ruling. After an investigation, Silver and the NBA banned Sterling from the league for life, also fining him $2.5 million with a plan to have owners vote to remove him from ownership of the team.
10 of 22David E. Klutho/SI
April 8 - UConn women go undefeated, win title, April 8
UConn's women's team and head coach Geno Auriemma made it a championship double dip in Storrs, knocking off Notre Dame 79-58 for their ninth title and completing a perfect 40-0 season. UConn took advantage of its size and overpowered the Irish in the paint, with Stefanie Dolson and Breanna Stewart leading the way. After a week of well-publicized anonymity between Auriemma (now 9-0 lifetime coaching in title games) and Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw, the Huskies let their play do the talking in dominant fashion.
11 of 22Greg Nelson/SI
April 5 - UConn men win national title, April 7
Behind Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels, UConn defeated Kentucky in the NCAA national championship game for the school's second title in four years. It was an improbable run to the top for seventh-seeded UConn. After squeaking past St. Joe's in the first round, the Huskies reeled off wins over Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State and Florida.
12 of 22Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
March 18 - Phil Returns to New York
In March, the New York Knicks made a tremendous front office splash, bringing 11-time NBA champion head coach Phil Jackson on as team president. Jackson, who as a player was a member of the Knicks' only two title-winning teams in 1970 and '73, went 1,155-485 in 20 seasons coaching the Bulls and Lakers. The struggling Knicks, fighting for the East's final playoff seed, hoped he would be the man to right their ship.
13 of 22Lauren Victoria Burke/AP
March 26 - Northwestern Unionizes
On March 26, a group of Northwestern University football players led by quarterback Kain Colter won a landmark case before the National Labor Relations Board and were ruled to be employees and allowed to form a union. Student-athletes at private universities were granted collective bargaining rights, rocking the model of collegiate athletics and awarding more power to the players than ever before. Northwestern would appeal the ruling shortly afterward.
14 of 22John W. McDonough/SI
Feb. 23 - Jason Collins signed by Nets
On Feb. 23, NBA veteran Jason Collins made history when he signed with the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the first openly gay athlete in North American major professional sports. Collins debuted the night of his signing against the Lakers, playing 11 minutes in a 108-102 victory for Brooklyn. Always known as a physical player, Collins lived up to his reputation in his first NBA game since April 2013: Collins collected five fouls in his short time on the floor in addition to two rebounds and a steal.
15 of 22Al Tielemans/SI
Though concerns mounted prior to the 2014 Sochi Games about Russia's preparation as Olympic host, the home country pulled off the feat and also impressed in competition. Russia topped the final medal table with 33 total medals, including 13 golds and 11 silvers, higher than any other country. The United States finished second in the total medal count, racking up 28 even though Team USA fell short of expectations in several sports, including speedskating and men's hockey.
16 of 22Bill Greenblatt/UPI/Landov
Feb. 10 - Prior to the 2013 college football season, Michael Sam -- a Missouri Tigers defensive lineman -- told his teammates he was gay. In early February, Sam told the rest of the world, only three months prior to the NFL Draft. Sam, the SEC's defensive player of the year in 2013, is expected to become the first publicly gay player in NFL history.
17 of 22Bill Frakes/SI
Feb. 2 - Seattle Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII
Armed with the NFL's No. 1 defense and a second-year quarterback well beyond his years, the Seattle Seahawks crushed the Denver Broncos 43-8 in one of the most lopsided Super Bowls in years.
18 of 22Tony Overman/The Olympian/MCT/Getty Images
Jan. 19 - Richard Sherman interview goes viral
Moments after he deflected a pass to send Seattle to the Super Bowl, Richard Sherman (right) became the most debated athlete in America for at least a full week. His boisterous interview with sideline reporter Erin Andrews caused most of the furor, but he added fuel to the fire with an ill-advised exchange with Niners receiver Michael Crabtree and choking gestures he made shortly thereafter.
19 of 22Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jan. 11 - Alex Rodriguez suspended for 162 games
An arbitrator reduced A-Rod's suspension from 211 games to 162 games, but the final count is still the longest PED-related suspension in MLB history. The third baseman will sit out the entire 2014 season, meaning the Yankees will not pay him any of his $25 million salary due this year.
20 of 22Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images
Jan. 7 - Lindsey Vonn won't compete in Olympics
Perhaps the most high-profile American Winter Olympian, skier Lindsey Vonn announced that her injured knee would prevent her from participating in the 2014 Sochi Games. Vonn had torn an ACL and MCL in a crash at the World Championships in February 2013, but vowed to participate in the Sochi Olympics. Two subsequent crashes aggravated the injury, forcing her withdrawal.
21 of 22Robert Beck/SI
Jan. 6 - Florida State claims national title
Led by Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, Florida State defeated Auburn 34-31 to claim the national title. In the final game of the BCS era, the Seminoles faced a 21-3 deficit during the second quarter but responded with 17 unanswered points, paving the way for a memorable fourth quarter that included three lead changes in the final five minutes. After Levonte Whitfield returned a kick 100 yards for a touchdown to give Florida State the lead, Auburn responded with a 37-yard touchdown run from Tre Mason to lead 31-27 with 1:19 remaining. But Winston saved his best for last, leading his team on an 80-yard scoring drive capped by a touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with only a few seconds remaining. Winston's late game heroics delivered a championship to Tallahassee for the first time since 1999 and sent the BCS out in remarkable fashion.
22 of 22Erich Schlegel/Getty Images
Jan. 5 - Texas names Charlie Strong new coach
After turning around Lousiville's football program the previous four years, Charlie Strong was named the new football coach at Texas, one of the most high-profile college coaching jobs in the nation. Not everyone was pleased with Mack Brown's successor: One billionaire booster called the hiring a "kick in the face," saying Strong "would make a great position coach, maybe a coordinator," but that he was not a strong enough candidate to coach what he called "one of the three most powerful university programs in the world right now.
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