The Japan Times editors selected these world sports stories as the most important of 2014.
1. Germany wins World Cup: Substitute Mario Goetze’s 113th-minute goal sends Germany past Argentina 1-0 in the final. Germany became the first European nation to win a World Cup on South American soil.
2. Sochi showcase: Russian Black Sea resort Sochi hosts the Winter Olympics. There was controversy in the women’s figure skating event, where Russian Adelina Sotnikova unexpectedly triumphed over South Korea’s Yuna Kim. Russia finished top of the medal table with 33 overall, including 13 golds.
3. Sterling forced out: Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is ordered by NBA commissioner Adam Silver to sell his team after his racist remarks, leaked to TMZ by a girlfriend, cause public outrage. Despite lawsuits and court appearances and a bizarre media circus involving Sterling and his estranged wife, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bought the team for $2 billion.
4. Jeter’s final hurrah: New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter’s celebrated career and season-long farewell tour comes to a close. The iconic shortstop, a five-time World Series winner and future Hall of Famer, finished his career with 3,465 hits in 2,747 regular-season games, all with the Yankees.
5. Mixed year for NFL: Pete Carroll guides the Seattle Seahawks to their first Super Bowl title, trouncing the Denver Broncos 43-8 in the cold of East Rutherford’s MetLife Stadium. But the Ray Rice domestic abuse story, including video footage of Rice punching his wife in an elevator, dominated headlines along with a string of domestic abuse cases, for which commissioner Roger Goodell faced a flurry of criticism.
6. Spurs dethrone Heat: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, celebrated veterans Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker and a cast of team-first role players outplay the two-time reigning champion Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Then, in a move that marked a titanic shift in the league’s balance of power, LeBron James left the Heat after four seasons and returned to the revamped Cleveland Cavaliers.
7. McIlroy serves notice: Golfer Rory McIlroy finishes first in three consecutive tournaments, including the British Open, which he led from start to finish, and the PGA Championship. The Northern Irishman competed in 17 tournaments during the year and placed in the top 10 in 12 of them.
8. Real Madrid claims bragging rights: Led by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s tournament-best 17 goals, Real Madrid finally claims its 10th European crown, outclassing neighbor Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final.
9. Djokovic cements status: World No. 1 Novak Djokovic earns $14.2 million in prize money and nabs seven titles for the season, including his second Wimbledon crown (his seventh Grand Slam triumph) and third consecutive year-end ATP World Tour Finals triumph.
10. Kings snatch Stanley Cup: The Los Angeles Kings defeat the New York Rangers in five games to take the NHL title for the second time in three seasons, adding to their championship in 2012 under coach Darryl Sutter.