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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, April 18, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was injured on this play against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 4, altering the hopes of the Packers the rest of the way. (PHOTO: Jim Biever / Green Bay Packers)

The top 10 Wisconsin sports stories of 2013

What city and state went through more, sports wise, than Milwaukee and Wisconsin in 2013? And unfortunately, most of it wasn't very good. The state's two biggest sports stars – players that were faces of their respective leagues, not just their teams – went through some rough patches. There was some team and individual success, but no major championships. The year might not be "one to remember" in that regard, but 2013 will be one few ever forget.

1. Ryan Braun suspended
For the first time in the history of Major League Baseball, an active, in-his-prime, Most Valuable Player was hit with an in-season suspension. Braun, long linked to performance enhancing drugs, accepted a 65-game, season-ending ban in the wake of the league's investigation into the Biogenesis clinic in Florida.

2. Aaron Rodgers breaks collarbone...
Like his predecessor at quarterback, Rodgers proved to be remarkably durable in his first five full seasons as the Green Bay Packers starter. Then, on Nov. 4, he was driven into the Lambeau Field turf and broke his left collarbone. Heading into that game against the Chicago Bears, the Packers were 5-2 and winners of four straight. Beginning with that game, the Packers went winless in November.
2a. ...and returns on Dec. 29 to lead the Packers to the playoffs with an
8-7-1 record!

3. Herb Kohl seeks investors
While it is true that Milwaukee Bucks owner Sen. Herb Kohl has stated over and again that he would welcome new blood (and money) into the ownership structure of the team over the last year or two, he formally announced that he was going to seek partners in mid-December. He brought in New York-based Allen & Company to help oversee the process, which could not only result in a new individual owner, or an ownership group, but keep the team in Milwaukee.

4. The Downtown arena issue
Incoming NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said the BMO Harris Bradley Center needs to be replaced in the near future, and civic leaders and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl are on the march to sway public opinion into funding most of the project. A special task force has been formed to investigate all the areas of concern (including all cultural facilities in the area) meaning the ball toward a new arena (or maybe the Bucks leaving Milwaukee) is now rolling.

5. Sue Black
First, she makes history as the first openly gay female executive in an American professional sports franchise … then she buys the team!

The Milwaukee Wave has been the most successful professional franchise based in Milwaukee, winning six Major Indoor Soccer League Championships, and Black's decision to not only come aboard but then buy the team put the organization back in the spotlight.

6. Bucks make the playoffs
It seems like forever ago, doesn't it? Despite a coaching change and the team's 10-16 finish to the regular season (and 38-44 record), the Bucks did reach the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since the 2009-10 season. They were swept by the eventual NBA champion Miami Heat.

7. Anthony Pettis wins UFC title
Milwaukee's own Pettis won the UFC lightweight championship with an impressive submission of Benson Henderson in the first round at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Pettis still lives and trains in the Cream City.

8. Larry Sanders
The Bucks center became a cult hero … then the face of the franchise … then is injured in an off-court incident

What a year for the 25-year-old. He emerged as a fan favorite and an NBA force on defense during the Bucks' playoff season a year ago and wound up being not only invited to work out with Team USA but was awarded a long-term contract extension. Then, after a slow start to this season, he was injured in an off-court incident that has created more than a few headaches for Sanders. His year was the very definition of "rollercoaster."

9.Marquette University reaches the Elite Eight
After back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances the Golden Eagles caught fire once again in the tournament, advancing to the Elite Eight for the first time since the famed 2003 Final Four squad. Unfortunately, Marquette couldn't repeat history a decade later after losing to Big East rival Syracuse, 55-39.

10. Barry Alvarez coaches Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl
An event that happened as the calendar literally flipped to 2013 still rates as one of the biggest stories of the year because of how improbable it seemed that Bret Bielema would up and leave the Badgers at all – let alone before another Rose Bowl appearance. Alvarez found his coach by this point as well, but decided to coach Bucky himself for another shot at glory and breaking the two-game Rose Bowl losing streak. Alas, the coaching legend was unsuccessful, falling, 20-14, to the Stanford Cardinal.


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