Photos that define 2017 in Arizona Sports
It’s probably a safe bet to assume Arizona sports fans are excited to move on from 2017.
Wait, didn’t we say this for last year? Yes, yes we did.
It hasn’t been the best time to be an Arizona sports fan, but there have been memorable moments — good and bad — from the local teams’ seasons as we head into 2018.
Here are the photos of those moments.
How else can you define 2017 for the Arizona Cardinals besides injuries? To bring it back again to last year, 2016 was all about David Johnson’s rise to stardom.
This year was about his injury, a dislocated wrist suffered in Week 1 that has him missing the rest of the season. The Cardinals couldn’t even get through four quarters without their superstar player going down.
The representation wasn’t about Johnson’s injury individually, though. His setback was the start of a snowball of impact players going down.
Following Johnson would be Carson Palmer, Tyvon Branch, Markus Golden and a slew of injuries to offensive linemen like D.J. Humphries and Mike Iupati that kept that snowball rolling down the hill, growing in size. The names continued to add up on the injured reserve.
All the while someone was still producing at an elite level.
There have been 28 seasons of players who have had at least 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards while being at least the age of 30, per Pro Football Reference. It’s only been done back-to-back-to back years once when Jerry Rice did it from 1994-1996.
He’s not the only one anymore.
Fitzgerald’s 2017 campaign of 101 receptions for 1,101 yards with one game left in the season made it his third year in a row reaching those marks at ages 32, 33 and 34.
Is this the last year we see him catch a pass? If it is, he did so at a top level, the only way he would have it.
“I like that Devin Booker kid.”
This was a line I got used to hearing from folks who would come up to me and talk Phoenix Suns basketball before March 24.
The 20-year-old Booker played with a combination of confidence, swagger and skill as a scorer that few have ever had at his age in the NBA, and people liked watching it.
They saw the best of it on the night of March 24 in Boston when he scored 70 points, stamping his name across the entire planet as the next great young player in the league.
Now, the discussions and, quite frankly, the arguments arise around Booker because he’s so good at such a young age. He’s a fascinating player to project as the franchise cornerstone.
While the Suns continue to be one of the worst teams in the league again and again, Booker is the safe haven Suns fans come to when it comes to finding any semblance of hope that the playoffs — and that long sought-after championship — are coming. Eventually.
After three games of the 2017-18 season, Earl Watson and Eric Bledsoe were no longer with the Phoenix Suns.
Both moments represented failures for general manager Ryan McDonough’s tenure, a tenure that in 2017 received an extension, only leading to more questions as to the longevity of his time in the Valley.
The Diamondbacks exceeded any type of best-case scenario for their season by making the playoffs, which led to the signature moment of 2017 in an absolutely wild NL Wild Card Game against the Colorado Rockies.
That moment was fan favorite and sensational set-up man Archie Bradley hitting a two-RBI triple, a play many claimed led to the loudest Chase Field outburst since the D-backs won a championship in 2001.
There hasn’t been a midseason force to hit the D-backs quite like J.D. Martinez.
The 30-year-old trade deadline acquisition from the Detroit Tigers was outstanding, hitting .302 with 29 home runs and 65 RBI in only 62 games.
As an unrestricted free agent coming off a career year, Martinez is, rightfully so, looking for his big payday, and it’s unclear yet as to whether the D-backs will be the ball club to give it to him as baseball’s offseason continues.
Captain Coyote is no longer suiting up as a member of the Arizona Coyotes franchise.
That hasn’t been the case for the past 21 seasons, but the 2017-18 campaign would be the first without Doan for over two decades after he retired on Aug. 30.
Forever the face and voice of hockey in Arizona, Doan is the all-time leader in games played (1,540), shots (3,945), goals (402), assists (570), points (972), power-play goals (128) and game-winning goals (69).
With former head coach Dave Tippett let go and new head coach Rick Tocchet brought in, the Coyotes were looking to begin their 2017-18 season by establishing a new identity.
They failed to do so, at least in a positive manner, losing their first 11 games of the season, tying an NHL record.
Luckily, the Coyotes avoided being the sole answer to a trivia question across Canadian bars, as they beat the Philadelphia Flyers to ensure they didn’t outright own the record.
Arizona State Sun Devils
It all began with rumors and reports that seemed too out of the blue to be true, but less than a week later, we were staring at new Arizona State head football coach Herm Edwards at his introductory press conference.
One of the most controversial hires in Arizona sports in quite some time, Edwards’ hire spawned many irate reactions as the program heads in a new direction.
Our most recent photo was the defining game of Bobby Hurley’s time at ASU to this point.
A 95-85 upset win on the road against then-No. 2 Kansas wasn’t just shocking for the result — it was shocking because the unbeaten Sun Devils were definitively the best team that night.
It sent shockwaves through the college basketball world and brought ASU its first top-5 AP Poll ranking since 1981. Not bad for a team that just entered the AP Poll for the first time since 2009 only two weeks prior.
College football got its latest superstar from Arizona in 2017, and it was a Wildcat.
Quarterback Khalil Tate was must-see television, pulling off showstopping and highlight-reel plays left and right.
A sophomore, Tate compiled 1,289 passing yards and completed 61 percent of his passes for nine touchdowns and eight interceptions in the regular season. On the ground, he rolled up 1,353 passing yards and 12 touchdowns in nine appearances, including seven starts.
As we look ahead to 2018, Tate’s Heisman Trophy chances rates as one of the top storylines for Arizona sports.
Another one of those storylines is in Tucson, but not in a positive manner.
Assistant basketball coach Emanuel Richardson was suspended and relieved of all duties after being charged with fraud and corruption for his recruiting practices.
Richardson was one of the most notable people charged for an FBI investigation that is only beginning to see the after-effects trickle in.