It’s hard to believe 2020 is upon us, so let’s take a look at what yours truly thought were the five biggest Indiana sports stories of this past decade. (Feel free to chime in to the contrary and email me yours.)
Butler University playing in two consecutive NCAA Men’s Final Fours in 2010 and 2011 is my fifth choice. The Bulldogs had some breaks along the way, and you could say they simply caught lightning in a bottle, but Brad Stevens did a masterful job in coaching a team that was clearly short on Division 1-level talent but long on heart. The Bulldogs were fun to watch and gave a lot of people plenty to cheer about.
My fourth nominee is the Indiana Pacers and their run to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 against the Miami Heat. Paul George showed he was more than just a budding star, and Roy Hibbert averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds, as the Pacers took LeBron James and company to a seventh game. The Heat blew out the Pacers in that final game, but Indiana’s run was magical.
The third pick on my list is the Indianapolis Colts releasing Peyton Manning on March 7, 2012 to avoid a humongous salary cap hit and position themselves to draft Andrew Luck with the first pick in the NFL draft just weeks later. It was a smart move by the Colts and one that many people here locally still cannot come to terms with.
The aforementioned Mr. Luck is the subject of my second slating as he was beat to the punch of announcing his retirement when it was revealed by Adam Schefter of ESPN on Aug. 25 (not to mention my Aug. 22 column) that he would retire from the game of football. The announcement placed Luck into a state of public exile, and once and for all officially put the three-year public relations circus surrounding his health to rest. The Colts headed into the 2019 season with Jacoby Brissett under center as their starting quarterback and finished a rather disappointing 7-9 after starting 5-2.
The number one Indiana (and beyond) sports story is the purchase of the storied Indianapolis Motor Speedway by Roger Penske as announced on Nov. 4, 2019. Penske reportedly paid $300 million for the famed oval, as well as the NTT Data Indy Car Series and IMS Productions. Look for major enhancements to the facilities and potential changes to the current executive staffs of each entity.
Danny Bridges who lived these stories and many more this past decade, and who hopes to be around in ten years to do this again, can be reached at 317-370-8447 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.