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In 2014 Beijing has become the sports powerhouse in China. Our two professional teams, the Beijing Ducks and Beijing Guo'an, finished as champion and runner-up in the CBA and CSL, respectively. After its success as a global sporting city in 2008, Beijing is in bid for another Olympics in 2022, which will hopefully not only bring us the best of the winter games but also some blue skies and reduced traffic. Even though we often complain about the perceived downsides of living here, this past year has reminded us how many world-class shows and last-gasp excitements that Beijing can offer us.

Beijing Ducks Won Their Second CBA Championship in Three Years (above)
In March, the Beijing Ducks defeated the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in six games (4-2) to win their second CBA championship in three years. Former New York Nick and Atlanta Hawk Randolph Morris was named the Finals MVP, and became the first international recipient of the award.

On paper, Xinjiang, with the regular season MVP Lester Hudson on their side, might have been the favorite to win the best of seven series, but Beiing played with a lot of passion and were the type of team that played more for the name on the front of their jerseys, not the name on the back.

Morris became Beijing's hero in the last game at Urumqi's notorious Hongshan (Red Hill) Arena. After looking a little out of it in the first three quarters, the Ducks' 6'11" (211cm) giant turned into a beast in the fourth quarter, making all of his eight shots and scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter alone, securing the Ducks' win in the clutch.

Beijing Guo’an’s Epic Victory at Tianhe Stadium
It was the match of the year. Both Beijing and Guangzhou just broke their franchise record for longest straight wins before the head-to-head game, with Guo'an making to their sixth and the Evergrande making to their ninth. For Guo'an, the game was a must-win if they were to remain in the championship race: the league had only two games left and Guo'an fell 6 points behind the Evergrande.

It was a dull game for the most part until Shao, the 34-year-old veteran midfielder, came off the bench to substitute Korean national Ha Dae-Sung on 88 minutes, right after Darko Matic was fouled by Rene a few yards from the penalty box. Shao came off the bench and went directly to the freekick spot. He was no doubt a good freekick taker, but he just finished warm-up and it would be his first touch of the ball.

The noises made by over 50,000 Evergrande supporters almost covered the whistle blow. Shao glimpsed at the goal, moved, bent his body, and kicked. It took almost forever for the ball to fly, and the next thing we knew was some of the most hysteric shouts in the history of Chinese sports commentating, “Shao! Oh my God! Goooooooooal!!! Holy! How can you believe it!!!”

It was the 88th minute, almost overtime, and it was the 34-year-old Beijing native's magic first touch.

Even though Guo'an finally failed to make to the title, the last-gasp winning freekick at the rivalry’s stadium will never be forgotten.

Li Na Announced Retirement from Professional Tennis
On September 19, tennis star and the Beijinger favorite Li Na retired suddenly from professional tennis at the age of 32, citing a persistent knee injury. Earlier this year, Li won the Australian Open for her second major title, defeating Dominika Cibulkova. Two months before that victory, Li did an exclusive interview with the Beijinger and said “she was ready”.

Li is the first Asian woman ever to win a tennis major, and many people recognize her to be the second most influential Chinese athlete after Yao Ming.

Beijing in Bid for 2022 Winter Olympics
Beijing and Zhangjiakou are in joint bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The bid was once a six-city competition but later came to a slalom between Bejing-Zhangjiakou and Almaty, Kazakhstan, as the other four were pulled out from the bid one by one. The International Olympic Committee will announce its final decision in July, 2015 and it seems that Beijing-Zhangjiakou has a good chance in winning.

NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice Visited Beijing
Following up his former quarterback Joe Montana in visiting China, NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice stopped in Beijing on November 16. Played twenty seasons in the NFL, Rice is widely considered the greatest wide receiver in NFL history, and in an NFL Films 2010 special, Rice was lauded as the greatest football player of all time. During his short staying, Rice held a brief master class session with a college team in Beijing.

“I caught his passes twice and had no drops!" said by a young Chinese player after his training with Rice in a mixture of excitement and awe.

Wolfsburg Completed Signing of Zhang Xizhe from Guo'an
VfL Wolfsburg signed a two and a half year contract with Zhang Xizhe from Beijing Guo'an on December 17. The transfer fee was rumored to be around EUR 1.5 million.

Widely regarded as the most talented midfielder in China, Zhang was appreciated for his passes, technique, and creativity in the midfield. He made his debut for Guo’an in a league game against Shandong Luneng in 2009 when he was only 18. During his five years with Guo'an, Zhang made 115 league appearances and scored 24 goals, making him one of Guo’an fans' all time favorites. In March 2011, Zhang got his first cap for the Chinese national team in a draw against Costa Rica and he scored his first goal for China on September 6, 2011 in a 6-1 win against Singapore.

His transfer became an instant hit in Chinese media as he became the first Chinese player in years to be signed by a major football club in Europe. Wolfsburg currently stands at the second in Bundesliga and sees great prospect to play in next year’s Champions League.

The Bird’s Nest Hosted Argentina vs. Brazil
On October 11 Argentina and Brazil played a friendly at the Bird’s Nest. Brazil, with Barcelona’s Neymar in their side, took the lead on 28 minutes with a spectacular volley from Diego Tardelli. The same guy sealed the victory with a second-half header after Leonel Messi missed a penalty shot.

Most of the two teams' star players played the game, including Leonel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, Neymar, Kaka, and Willian.

Beijing Greatwall’s WNBA All Star Brittney Griner Unhurt in a Stabbing Attempt
On November 3, American WNBA All Star Brittney Griner, who was spending her off-season playing for the Beijing Great Wall in China’s professional women’s basketball league, was cut on the elbow in a knife attack while boarding the team bus in Shenyang. During the incident, the knife caught Griner on the elbow and nicked her, but fortunately she was wearing two jackets and the knife didn’t pierce the skin.

“I was thinking I was going to end up stabbed in China and if he got us at the back of the bus, I was going to have to fight this man,” Griner said in an email to her agent after the incident, according to ABC news.

NBA in PRC: Nets vs. Kings at MasterCard Center
NBA came to Beijing in October for the NBA Global Games at the MasterCard Center where the Brooklyn Nets beat the Sacramento Kings 129-177 in overtime. This was the 17th NBA game to occur on Chinese soil, and it was sure to be a game for the ages. After the two teams tied up at 112-112 at the end, the game was forced into an overtime when Mason Plumlee, the second year power forward turned into a beast. He finished the game with 18 points with a few key shots during the overtime.

Even if he opted not to play the pre-season game, future hall of famer "The Big Ticket" Kevin Garnett of the Nets still received the loudest noise at the MasterCard Center when he showed up for the pre-game warm-up.

Photos: bing.com, cfp.cn, goal.comDaily Mailcdn.fansided.com, Compete Sports, www.xikan.tv

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