Bestowed with the big three in Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Miami was built to steamroll all comers. The Heat may have rebounded from their disappointing 9-8 start, but they were deservedly mocked for falling asleep in the clutch, suffering more then their fair share of fourth quarter meltdowns.
Drew Brees and the Saints followed up their Super Bowl XLIV success with a nice 11-5 season. But they then proceeded to get knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by a listless Seahawks squad. Seattle clinched their berth on the virtue of a 7-9 record, which just happened to be slightly better than the other denizens of the NFC West.
The Miami Heat for taking what should have been a cakewalk and turning it into a quagmire.
After eschewing the Penguins $2 million dollar offer for a more lucrative $3.3 million deal with the Flyers, the Czech superstar returned to the NHL after a three-year absence at the ripe age of 39. Still in tip-top form by keeping busy in the second best league in the world, the KHL, Jagr came out of the gate hot notching his 1600th career point in his first game back in action.Lance Berkman
Some people call him Fat Elvis, while others prefer Big Puma. Either way you holler, the veteran right fielder’s bat came back in a serious way in 2011. The 35-year old slugger who had been pretty dormant the past three seasons regained his hitting stroke to the tune of 31 homers and 94 RBIs in his first season as a St. Louis Cardinal.
And the Chilly goes to...
Put this one on Jaromir’s mantle. While Berkman’s return to All-Star form in his mid-30s is impressive, Jagr merely skating with players he could have fathered is a bigger feat. Besides, while Berkman made his sixth all-star appearance and tied Yogi Berra for 76th in the all-time home run standings, Jagr appears poised to leapfrog Joe Sakic’s 1,641 mark and slide into eighth in all time points.
ERA ENDERMike Modano
Modano may have only tasted Stanley Cup Glory once in ’99, but since being picked number one overall in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, the formidable centre has left an indelible mark on the Stars franchise where he played for 21 of his 22 seasons. Modano departed from the NHL with a host of American scoring records under his belt, including most goals (561) and points (1374) by a U.S. player.Shaquille O’Neal
The 7'1, 325lb force of nature was drafted first overall in the 1992 NBA draft and won the NBA championship four times: 2000, 2001, 2002, & 2006. The larger-than-life personality was always cracking jokes even at his retirement press conference, stopping the proceedings for a second to take a pretend phone call from the New York Knicks who Shaq claimed were offering him an interview for the GM job.
And the Chilly goes to...Honourable Mention:
While one was one of the top centres in the NHL and the other was one of the top centres in the NBA, this was no jump ball. When it comes down to it, the question is “who left a bigger impact on their respective league?” Answer: The Big Aristotle. Shaq wears size 23 sneakers, Modano’s skate size is just 9, so there’s no contest here.
Done in by lingering foot and ankle injuries, Yao Ming was forced to call it a career at 30. The heart and soul of the Houston Rockets realized the NBA’s global ambitions by bringing hundreds of millions of new fans to the game.
SHADOW BUSTERSNovak Djokovic
Tennis had been a two-man racquet club for some time with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal trading turns at the top of the ATP and every other player merely nipping at their heels like pesky hamsters. In 2011, Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic changed the conversation, winning his first 43 matches of the year and triumphing in three of the four Grand Slams.Aaron Rodgers
By leading the Packers to their first post-Favre Super Bowl victory, Aaron Rodgers finally broke the shackles of his longtime identity as Brett Favre’s successor and firmly established himself as one of the league’s top signal callers. Green Bay is now Mr. Rodgers’ neighbourhood. Through the first 11 games of the 2011 season, Rodgers has thrown 33 TDs and leads all QBs with a phenomenal 127.7 quarterback rating.
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This was the biggest toss-up of the Chilly Awards. Both elevated their games to become upper echelon studs in their respective pursuits and while Rodgers just may eclipse Peyton Manning’s NFL record for the highest single-season passer rating, Djokovic’s ascent to the No. 1 ranking is up there in tennis history with Rod Laver’s 1969 slam-a-thon. Advantage Novak.