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theScore's 50 favorite moments of 2023: Titles, twists, and one epic speech

Julian Catalfo / theScore

This year in sports was defined by inspiring stories, historic achievements, and surreal events that not even Hollywood could script. We loved them all. With 2023 drawing to a close, theScore is looking back on 50 moments that resonated most with us over the past 12 months. Our five-part series, which counts down every Friday in December, continues below with moments 30-21.

Dec. 1 Dec. 8 Dec. 15 Dec. 22 Dec. 29
50-41 40-31 30-21 20-11 10-1

30. Bellingham takes down Barca 💪

NurPhoto / NurPhoto / Getty

Jude Bellingham was already hailed as the second coming of Cristiano Ronaldo before he led Real Madrid to victory in his first Clasico. The English midfielder morphed into one of the best finishers in the world after joining the club from Borussia Dortmund. His 13 goals in his first 10 games - including various winning strikes - were two more than Ronaldo scored to start his iconic career in Madrid. But nothing compared to Bellingham's heroics against Madrid's bitter rivals, Barcelona. After scoring a spectacular equalizing goal from 30 yards out, the 20-year-old further endeared himself to fans with an opportunistic winner in the dying minutes. - Gordon Brunt

29. Etienne's Pyrrhic performance 🙃

Everyone loves a big fantasy football performance - unless you're on the wrong side of it. Imagine how Travis Etienne felt after posting one of the best games of his career while playing against himself in fantasy football. The running back exploded for 136 rushing yards, four receptions, 48 receiving yards, a pair of touchdowns, and a two-point conversion against the Bills in Week 5. His opponent surely appreciated the 30+ fantasy points, but Etienne was likely happier winning the game in real life on the back of his dominant outing. - Andrew Dixon

28. PGA TOUR, LIV Golf join forces 😱

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. After more than a year of legal battles, the PGA TOUR announced a surprise framework agreement to partner with Saudi Arabia's LIV Golf, shocking just about everyone. While LIV golfers like Phil Mickelson rejoiced, many TOUR golfers found out about the merger through a leaked press release on social media, and members of Netflix's docuseries "Full Swing" found out on camera. Those who refused LIV Golf’s massive payouts were angered by the TOUR's lack of loyalty, and Tiger Woods was "frustrated" with the lack of player involvement. The tours have until Dec. 31 to finalize the agreement but, regardless of the outcome, June 6 will go down in golf history as a day stranger than fiction. - Sarah Wallace

27. FDU stuns No. 1 Purdue 😲

Five years after No. 1 Virginia lost to No. 16 UMBC, New Jersey's Fairleigh Dickinson handed Purdue an opening-round loss in the same setup. The Knights had to win in the First Four to qualify, while the Boilermakers lost four games to end the regular season before winning the Big Ten title. FDU held off No. 1 Purdue with two clutch blocks in the final minute of play to advance the Knights to the second round. Meanwhile, No. 4 Virginia lost to No. 13 Furman, marking the second time in three years the Cavaliers lost in the first round. - Donald Higney

26. Aces breathe rarefied air ✨

The Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty were on a collision course to meet in the WNBA Finals all season long. Both teams were loaded with stars and dominated in the regular season to earn the top seeds in their respective conferences. The Aces took the first two games at home before the Liberty responded with a victory in Game 3. Las Vegas lost starting point guard Chelsea Gray and starting center Kiah Stokes to injuries before Game 4 but withstood their absences to claim a 70-69 victory. The win made them just the third repeat champion in WNBA history, and the first since 2002. - Josh Goldberg

25. José Ramírez decks Tim Anderson 🤜

It was a bad, bad year for Tim Anderson. The former batting champ struggled through injuries and underperformed in the most disappointing campaign of his career. But the worst night of his dreadful season came on Aug. 5 when he picked a fight with the wrong guy. The White Sox shortstop hurled his glove to the ground and put his dukes up after getting into a verbal dispute with Guardians slugger José Ramírez - which turned out to be a poor decision. Anderson hit the dirt like a ton of bricks after catching a wild overhand right from Ramírez. The fight led to a bench-clearing brawl and Eloy Jiménez even got stepped on as Anderson was sidelined recovering from embarrassment. - Bryan Mcwilliam

24. Nuggets, Jokic claim 1st title 🏔

Garrett Ellwood / National Basketball Association / Getty

For the fifth straight season, the NBA got a new champion. The Denver Nuggets won their first championship after taking down the Miami Heat in June. Nikola Jokic dominated the playoffs, averaging 30 points, 13.5 rebounds, 9.5 assists, and 1.1 steals per game - elevating his game as the competition and stakes increased every round. Denver got a boost from Jamal Murray, who put up 26.1 points and 7.1 assists in the postseason as he played in his first campaign after an ACL tear. With this tandem, the Nuggets look to be a formidable championship contender for the foreseeable future. - Higney

23. Coco conquers US Open 🎾

Greatness was expected of Coco Gauff ever since she made her professional debut at 14 years old. But those expectations quickly became a burden, weighing her down even as she spent her high school years winning various 500- and 1,000-level tournaments. So when she came back from a set down against Aryna Sabalenka to win the US Open in September - clinching her first major title at the grand old age of 19 - Coco had a few things to say. "To those who thought they were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it, and now I'm really burning so bright right now," she said as the 28,000 at Arthur Ashe Stadium erupted in support. Now it's no longer about whether Coco can win majors, but how many victories she'll collect. - Anthony Lopopolo

22. You come at the king ... 😤

LeBron proved that you can't count him out, even during his 20th NBA season. After then-Memphis Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks sent him numerous taunts and a hit in the groin, LeBron got his revenge. Leading by three points in overtime of Game 4 in their opening-round playoff series, the dueling players found themselves matched up - with LeBron driving past Brooks and drawing a timely foul to help put the lower-seeded Lakers up 3-1 in the series. In a cathartic moment, King James burst into emotion as the Lakers crowd went crazy. L.A. went on to win the series, while the Grizzlies declined to re-sign Brooks, allowing him to join the Houston Rockets. - Higney

21. Wild Bill's legendary parade speech 🤣

Warning: Video contains coarse language

There have been some incredible Stanley Cup parade speeches over the years, but Vegas Golden Knights forward William Karlsson gave one for the ages in June. The moment he took the mic shirtless and drenched in sweat, it was clear he was about to deliver an all-timer. It's two minutes of absolute gold: Karlsson initially censoring himself but dropping an actual F-bomb 22 seconds later. The Arizona Coyotes catching a stray. That poor woman trying in vain to get him to wrap it up with a tap on the back, the hand-across-the-throat gesture, a plea of "let's go," and finally dragging him across the stage. Perfection. - Josh Gold-Smith

Let us know what your favorite sports moments were in the comments!

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