2003 Sports: Pre-Championship Drama

The year that was 2003 sports was an exciting one, but unusual in the sense that its most memorable moments took place away from the spotlight of championship events. It’s not that there wasn’t a thrilling Super Bowl, a great battle in the NCAA tournament final or a seven-game Stanley Cup, because all of these things happened. But the most lasting memories came in the buildup.

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Baseball saw perhaps its greatest League Championship Series combo ever. Not only did both the ALCS and NLCS go seven games, but the long-suffering fan bases of the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs were poised to meet in the World Series. Each team got five outs from the pennant on successive nights…and each lost.
When the Red Sox and Cubs met for interleague play in the summer of 2012, I was invited to contribute a piece to a Boston sports website looking back on the agony. You can read here, the game-by-game unfolding of both LCS battles.
The Division Series round of the baseball playoffs had its own set of drama, with two series going the full five games, and both four-game series being taken by the team that lost the opener. There must have been something special about the round of eight in professional sports this year, because the NFL had its own drama, with two overtime games, and two other exciting finishes. A look back on the Division Round Dynamite that marked both MLB and the NFL can be found at the links below…
Read more about the 2003 MLB playoffs
Read more about the 2003 NFL playoffs

The best of the championship battles in 2003 took place at the Final Four in New Orleans. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim and Kansas counterpart Roy Williams squared off on Monday Night, each seeking their first ring. In a battle of grizzled coaching vets it was a one-and-done freshman by the name of Carmelo Anthony who was the difference-maker. Syracuse won the national championship.
Read more about the 2003 Final Four
The New Jersey Devils, San Antonio Spurs and New England Patriots have all been model franchises in their respective leagues, winning multiple championships and repeatedly staying in contention. All three teams won their second ring in 2003.
Read more about the 2003 New England Patriots
Read more about the 2003 San Antonio Spurs
Read more about the 2003 New Jersey Devils

After the dramatic MLB playoffs, the New York Yankees seemed a cinch to take care of the upstart Florida Marlins and win the World Series. For three games—and nine more innings of Game Four, that view seemed to hold form. Then a debatable managerial move led to an extra-inning win for Florida in the fourth game that tied the Series. The Marlins never looked back, closing in six.
Read more about the 2003 World Series
College football ended up with a messy love triangle between Oklahoma, LSU and USC. With two spots in the national title game, USC ended up being the one left out. LSU won the official BCS National Championship, while USC was rewarded with the AP poll. It was an unsatisfying end to a season that could have had a much better ending.
Read more about the 2003 college football season