Arizona Sports’ year in review: The top storylines in 2023
Dec 31, 2023, 6:48 AM | Updated: 9:10 am
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
It’s been a year in Arizona sports.
The Arizona Diamondbacks made an improbable World Series run. The Phoenix Suns moved into a new era of ownership. The Arizona Cardinals slugged through a year of struggles while setting up a rebuild that will kick into full gear during 2024. And Arizona State’s athletic future took a major turn.
To rehash the year that was 2023, the Wolf & Luke show compiled sound from all the noteworthy moments.
Take a listen to the four montages broken into three-month periods to relive the past year that will set up the stories that will drive us to start 2024.
Arizona Sports’ top stories of 2023: January-March
Bye, Bye, Kliff and Keim — The Cardinals moved on from head coach Kliff Kingsbury and GM Steve Keim, eventually hiring Monti Ossenfort as GM and former Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon as coach.
Mat Ishbia isn’t messing around — The new Suns owner completed his purchase of the Suns and Mercury and immediately jumped head-first by trading Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson for Kevin Durant. It wouldn’t be long before Durant returned from a knee injury only to slip and injure his ankle before his first home game with Phoenix.
Locking in the future — The Diamondbacks agreed to an eight-year, $111 million deal with outfielder Corbin Carroll with only 32 games on his MLB resume. It turned out to be a savvy move ahead of his NL Rookie of the Year campaign.
Arizona Sports’ top stories of 2023: April-June
A busy NFL Draft –After resolving a tampering violation with the Eagles regarding the hire of Gannon, Ossenfort maneuvered the NFL Draft with a series of trades and the drafting of offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. to set up an imperative 2024 draft class.
Oops, they did it again — Durant and Devin Booker suffered a blowout in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Denver Nuggets that was similar to the year prior’s season finale against the Dallas Mavericks. The fallout included the firing of head coach Monty Williams.
Big deal for Beal — Looking for ways to move on from a giant contract, the Suns dealt Chris Paul, Landry Shamet and draft capital to the Washington Wizards to acquire Bradley Beal and Jordan Goodwin before Paul was redirected to the Golden State Warriors.
Arizona Sports’ top stories of 2023: July-September
It’s time for Paul Sewald to pitch … for the Arizona Diamondbacks. A move to acquire the closer from the Seattle Mariners ultimately snapped the D-backs’ revamped bullpen into place, well enough for the unit to play a key role down the stretch and, as we’ll cover, into the postseason.
Goodbye, Pac-12 — Colorado triggered the demise of the Pac-12 by bolting to the Big 12, forcing Oregon and Washington to opt for the Big Ten and the Arizona schools to follow the Buffaloes, along with Utah.
Good riddance — After two full years of trade speculation, the Suns finally moved on from Deandre Ayton, sending him to Portland in the Damian Lillard blockbuster. Phoenix landed center Jusuf Nurkic, wing Nassir Little and guard Grayson Allen in the trade with the Blazers and Bucks.
Arizona Sports’ top stories of 2023: October-December
Surprise out of the the NL West – The Diamondbacks ran through the Brewers, blasted past a dark recent history against the Dodgers and fought off the Phillies to reach the World Series, where they fell to the Texas Rangers.
Kyler on the comeback — The Cardinals’ Kyler Murray returned from his ACL injury, a sign the team sees him as the future at quarterback.
Ray Anderson steps down at ASU — Arizona State vice president of university athletics Ray Anderson stepped down from his duties, citing age and the changing athletics landscape as reasons to allow new leadership to take the Sun Devils into the Big 12.