The Japan Times editors selected these world sports stories as the most important of 2015.
1 Warriors end championship drought: Led by guard Stephen Curry, Golden State goes 67-15 under first-year coach Steve Kerr during the regular season and collects its first NBA Finals crown since 1975, defeating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games. The Warriors then begin this season 24-0.
2 Stunning finish: The Patriots’ Malcolm Butler intercepts Russell Wilson’s pass at the goal line with 18 seconds left to preserve a 28-24 New England lead in the closing seconds of Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium, giving the Pats their fourth title during the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era.
3 The world’s best: The All Blacks confirmed their greatness at the Rugby World Cup, going unbeaten in pool play and advancing to the final, where they ended Australia’s title hopes at London’s Twickenham Stadium.
4 Riding into history: American Pharoah became the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown.
5 Worth the wait: After falling to the San Francisco Giants in the 2014 World Series, the Kansas City Royals’ first appearance in the Fall Classic since their title-winning 1985 campaign, the Royals emerged victorious in a five-game conquest of the New York Mets.
6 Corruption scandal engulfs FIFA: FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA boss Michel Platini this week were handed eight-year bans over ethics violations as the global corruption scandal reached its zenith. Earlier this month, the U.S. Justice Department charged 39 people in a 92-count indictment tied to the scandal, featuring bribery, money laundering and fraud, among other charges. Blatter won re-election to a fifth term in May, but said he would resign after Swiss and U.S. officials, including the FBI, launched probes.
7 Becoming routine: The Chicago Blackhawks claimed the Stanley Cup, the team’s third in six seasons, in June, spoiling the Tampa Bay Lightning’s championship dreams in their six-game showdown. Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith received the Conn Smythe Award winner as the MVP of the playoffs.
8 Top of their game: Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic stormed past their competition this year. Serena fell short of winning all four Grand Slams (she lost in the U.S. Open semifinals to Roberta Vinci), while Djokovic posted an 82-6 record during the year and became the first man to win the ATP World Tour Finals title for the fourth straight year.
9 Bolt does it again: Jamaica’s Usain Bolt collects three golds (100, 200, 4×100) at the world championships in Beijing, repeating his trophy haul from the 2008 Beijing Games and 2012 London Olympics. Bolt became the first athlete to achieve the so-called triple triple.
10 U.S. whips Nadeshiko Japan: American star Carli Lloyd, the team captain, notched a first half hat trick in a 5-2 victory over Japan in the Women’s World Cup final in July in Vancouver, British Columbia.
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