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theScore's 50 favorite moments of 2023: Sagas, superstars, and monumental upsets

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 20-11.

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

20. Germany stuns U.S. at FIBA World Cup 🇩🇪

Germany had quite the summer at the FIBA World Cup in Manila. After topping its group and beating Latvia in the quarterfinals, Die Mannschaft matched up against the mighty United States. Franz Wagner and Daniel Theis held their own, leading Germany to a close upset win over the perennial powerhouse. They eked out another tight victory over Serbia to take home their first FIBA title, with Dennis Schroder making two key offensive plays at the end to secure the victory. The Americans fell again in the bronze-medal matchup, losing to Canada. - Donald Higney

19. Mom goes berserk after wrestling upset 🤬

Players, naturally, are emotionally invested in their own success (and that of their teams). Fans, too. But no group experiences the highs and lows of sporting events more viscerally than the parents of the athletes. Just ask Cathy Lee. Her son Spencer, a three-time national champion at Iowa and one of the most dominant wrestlers in the country, was heavily favored to capture his fourth successive title in 2023. Instead, his 58-match winning streak was snapped by Purdue's Matt Ramos in one of the most shocking upsets in Division I wrestling history. The crowd was stunned. The commentators were in disbelief. But their reactions paled in comparison to Lee's enraged mother, who took her frustration out on her glasses. Parenthood. What a wild ride. - Gianluca Nesci

18. Pat Bev gets creative to rip refs 😆

You can always depend on Patrick Beverley to deliver a memorable moment. After a missed foul call against the Boston Celtics that would've sent LeBron James to the free-throw line to potentially win the game, the then-Lakers guard grabbed a courtside media member's camera to show referee Eric Lewis that James had been hit on the drive. Lewis served Beverley with a technical foul as the outspoken guard walked off the court, repeatedly pointing to the camera. The Lakers lost the game, and Beverley was traded away a few weeks later. - Higney

17. A.J. Brown's catch of the year 🔥

The Philadelphia Eagles, down 11 points on the road against the Washington Commanders, needed a spark heading into the half. Washington played single-coverage against A.J. Brown on a sideline fade route inside the red zone and surrendered that spark. Brown got just enough of an outside release to give himself a chance before spinning mid-air, stabbing the ball with one hand, and displaying elite body control to get both feet in as he reached the end zone for one of the best catches of the year. Philly rode that momentum to an eventual 38-31 victory to improve to 7-1 on the season. - Andrew Dixon

16. Coach Prime backs up the talk 😎

Deion Sanders was coming off three wildly successful seasons at Jackson State when he jumped to Colorado to take over a one-win program. At his introductory press conference, the eternally confident icon told naysayers and loyalists alike, "We coming." After an offseason of hype, Colorado went to TCU to open the season against the 2022 national runner-up. That's where Sanders told his team in the locker room, "We ain't coming no more - we here." A few hours later, Sanders and the Buffaloes were celebrating a momentous road victory as 21-point underdogs. - Alex Chippin

15. McDavid hits 60 in style 💫

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. After Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid nearly combined for a highlight-reel overtime goal, the pair linked up again, this time finding the back of the net for the game-winner and McDavid's 60th goal of the season. The play merely emphasized McDavid's generational campaign: his unparalleled speed, stick control, and game knowledge helped him finish the regular season with 153 points, the 15th-highest single-season total ever. His points total is only bested by Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux, and Wayne Gretzky, all products of an era where scoring was much easier. The OT winner wasn't McDavid's last regular-season goal, either; his final tally of 64 goals and 89 assists notched him the Hart, Ted Lindsay, Art Ross, and Maurice "Rocket" Richard trophies. - Sarah Wallace

14. De La Cruz electrifies baseball ⚡️

Elly De La Cruz took baseball by storm when the Cincinnati Reds called him up in June, and one of the highlights of his electric rookie campaign came against the Milwaukee Brewers on July 8 when he stole second, third, and home in the span of two pitches. The 21-year-old began his triumphant feat by easily stealing second thanks to the slow delivery of Brewers hurler Elvis Peguero, then followed by swiping third without a throw from Milwaukee backstop William Contreras. Seconds later, De La Cruz went for broke, sprinting home and swiping the toughest of the three bases as Peguero's throw sailed wide to the backstop. It was the first time a Reds player stole second, third, and home in a single game since 1919. - Bryan Mcwilliam

13. The greatest curling shot ever 🥌

Swedish Olympic gold medalist Niklas Edin is no stranger to high-pressure curling shots. Needing to score two to force an extra end in the round robin of the 2023 World Men's Curling Championship against Norway, the six-time world champion had to throw an extremely rare "spinner" to move a frozen Norwegian stone and still keep his shooter. He somehow managed to just nudge Norway's stone - without touching his own - and stop as shot rock. Edin's stone spun an incredible 53.5 times - 10 times the average shot. While the Swedish rink ended up losing the extra end, it has since been dubbed "a shot heard around the curling world." - Wallace

12. Taylor Swift takes over the NFL 🌟

What happens when a pop culture icon interlocks with one of the NFL's biggest names? Absolute pandemonium. And that's exactly what happened on Sept. 24 at Arrowhead Stadium when, maybe for the first time in the Patrick Mahomes era, all eyes weren't on the superstars on the field. Instead, they were all glued to one superstar in a box suite. That suite contained none other than Taylor Swift, whose presence announced to the world that the rumors of her new romance with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce were indeed real. Since then, Swift has continued to show up to Chiefs games to support her new partner. Now, that's a perfect love story. - Daniel Valente

11. Ohtani inspires internet sleuthing 🕵️

Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / Getty

Twitter effectively died in 2023, not only in name but also in functionality, cultural importance, and spirit. As many users migrate to other platforms, the collective of fans, journalists, and extreme weirdos known as "sports Twitter" seems intent on hanging on until the bitter end. And amid the mushroom clouds of spambots and fleeing advertisers, sports Twitter had one last glorious day in the sun with the absurd saga linking superstar free agent Shohei Ohtani to the Toronto Blue Jays.

The morning started from the dubious place of amateur flight tracking, then the day devolved into even more suspect rumors of a large reservation at a Toronto sushi restaurant, a questionably sourced report that Ohtani had decided on the Jays but apparently didn't decide to tell anyone, a seemingly solid report that Ohtani was indeed en route to Toronto that the elite tier of MLB insiders (and Bob Nightengale) later shot down, and finally concluded with the grand reveal that it was the "Shark Tank" guy on the plane all along. The "Shark Tank" guy! We're going to miss you, sports Twitter.

(Oh yeah, and Ohtani signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers like we all predicted all along.) - David P. Woods

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

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