Sports never fail to inspire fans and create jaw-dropping moments that no one saw coming. Amid a rocky year filled with much uncertainty, we witnessed several games that delivered the fiercest competitiveness and excitement for viewers worldwide.
Sports Illustrated and Brooks Brothers have partnered to create and present–The "Game of the Year Award Presented by Brooks Brothers" to recognize these amazing matches.
The 2020 nominees include:
* NBA Finals Game 3
* Stanley Cup Game 4
* Super Bowl LIV
* World Series Game 4
Brett Phillips accepted the award on behalf of the Tampa Bay Rays.
NBA Finals Game 3:
Refusing to go down in the Finals without a fight, Jimmy Butler powered the Miami Heat to a 115–104 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3. Playing without Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic for the second straight contest, the Heat rode Butler and a tightened defense to bring the series within one game at 2–1.
Miami twice had commanding leads that the Lakers erased, ahead by 13 points in the first quarter and 12 points late in the third quarter. With 8:55 remaining in the game, Los Angeles regained the lead, 91–89, on a layup by Rajon Rondo, but the Heat got the final punch.
Miami's starters outscored the Lakers' starting five 89-51 in the contest. Butler finished his masterful night with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, recording only the third 40-point triple-double in Finals history.
Stanley Cup Game 4:
A thrilling back-and-forth Game 4 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars wasn't short of drama. The Lightning's 5–4 overtime win gave them a commanding 3–1 series lead, just one victory away from winning the Stanley Cup.
After quickly falling 2–0 behind Dallas, Brayden Point scored twice to rally Tampa Bay and tie the game in the second period. The Lightning eventually took their first lead of the game, 4–3, in the third period, but the Stars weren't ready to give up. Joe Pavelski sent Game 4 to overtime with a shot that bounced off Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and into the net.
The game took a controversial turn when Stars captain Jamie Benn was called for tripping Lightning forward Tyler Johnson at 5:10 of overtime. Referee Francis Charron claimed Benn kicked Johnson's skates out from under him, but replays showed Benn never touched Johnson. Shattenkirk scored on the power play, winning Game 4 for the Lightning.
Super Bowl LIV:
For the first time in 50 years, the Kansas City Chiefs were crowned Super Bowl champions. The Chiefs outlasted the San Francisco 49ers 31–20 in Super Bowl LIV to bring home another title to Kansas City.
The 49ers got on the board first in a low-scoring first half. Coming out of the half tied at 10, the Niners orchestrated an efficient nine-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in a go-ahead field goal. Mahomes threw his first career playoff interception on the Chiefs' first possession, which San Francisco turned into a touchdown—its third consecutive score to grab a 10-point lead.
Mahomes found Travis Kelce for a one-yard touchdown pass with 6:13 to go in the fourth quarter, giving the Chiefs their first points of the second half. Following a key defensive stop, Mahomes led what played out to be a Super Bowl-winning drive, capped off by a 5-yard toss to running back Damien Williams.
Kansas City's defense held the 49ers near midfield on the game's next possession. And on the second play after the turnover on downs, Williams broke through the Niners' front for a 38-yard touchdown to ice the game. A Garoppolo interception with 57 seconds to play finished any 49ers' last-second chances.
The Chiefs' franchise had made 18 playoff appearances since its last Super Bowl appearance, suffering plenty of heartbreak along the way. In Mahomes's hands, the team mounted an epic comeback to end its championship drought.
World Series Game 4:
The Tampa Bay Rays stunned the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4 of the World Series, recording a pivotal 8–7 victory in come-from-behind fashion.
Down 7–6 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Rays were determined to not let the Dodgers take a 3–1 lead in the series. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen struck out his first batter, Yoshi Tsutsugo, before giving up a single to Kevin Kiermaier. With the Rays' momentum building, playoff superstar Randy Arozarena approached the plate, primed for another heroic moment. Instead, Arozarena walked and defensive replacement Brett Phillips, who was left off the American League Championship Series roster, was up.
With two outs and two strikes, Phillips slashed a line drive to right-center field, bringing home the tying run. Dodgers center fielder Chris Taylor kicked Phillips's liner, recovered the baseball and tried to throw out Arozarena, who, despite starting the play at first base, was sprinting toward the plate. Dodgers catcher Will Smith then mishandled the relay throw from Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy, allowing the winning run to score.
The play marked the first time since 1993 that a team in a World Series game had a walk-off hit while trailing. The Rays' instant classic Game 4 victory evened the World Series at two games apiece.
Along with "Game of the Year," SI will also recognize:
* Best Dressed, presented by JCPenney
* Breakout of the Year, presented by Emsculpt Neo
* Player of the Year, presented by Yappa
* Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, presented by Wheaties
* 2020 Sportsperson of the Year recipients
The all-new SI Awards will honor some of the best athletes in the world when it announces the winners on Dec. 19th. Tune into the free global broadcast starting at 7 p.m. ET streaming on Facebook via the Sports Illustrated Facebook page. The broadcast will also be simulcast by our partner LiveXLive across 20+ other platforms including SportsIllustratedAwards.com, LiveXLive, YouTube, Twitch, TikTok, Twitter and more.