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  Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 13:44 GMT
US sport: A new order
New England quarterback Tom Brady repaid head coach Bill Belichick's faith in him
New England's Brady hunch paid off handsomely

America's first major sports event of 2002 was given a special resonance in the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks.

And Super Bowl XXXVI came up trumps for the nation as the unfancied but aptly-named Patriots ran out surprise 20-17 winners against hot favourites St Louis in New Orleans.

As if that wasn't enough of a Cinderella story in itself, New England's inspiration was rookie quarterback Tom Brady.

He only got his chance earlier in the season after Drew Bledsoe was injured, but grabbed it with both hands and earned a $28m contract.

More surprises followed in the 2002 baseball season.

The biggest one for many fans was that the players' union and team owners eventually managed to hammer out a new labour agreement.

The dispute had threatened to derail the World Series, but both sides came to their senses just in time.

And in a year when cutting smaller teams from the major leagues was very much on MLB commissioner Bud Selig's agenda, how fitting it was to see one of them win the Fall Classic.

Anaheim might play in a big market - Los Angeles - but they had never previously shown any signs of joining baseball's big guns.

They stunned the biggest of them all, the mighty Yankees, to win the American League title, and then beat San Francisco 4-3 in a thrilling October finale.

There was no such excitement in the NBA where Phil Jackson's LA Lakers notched up their third successive national title in June.

Eastern Conference champions the New Jersey Nets offered little resistance as they were steamrollered 4-0 by Shaq, Kobe and company.

Many saw the Lakers' last-gasp 4-3 win over Sacramento in the Western Conference-deciding series as the real finals.

As 2002 draws to a close, however, the Lakers are struggling without O'Neal as he recuperates from toe surgery.

Maybe 2003 will finally see them dethroned.

At least college basketball threw up an unexpected winner, as the unheralded Maryland Terrapins took the NCAA title.

One of ice hockey's established powers, the Detroit Red Wings, lifted the Stanley Cup in June with a 4-1 series win over Carolina.

It was the Wings' 10th Cup success, their first since 1998, and turned out to be veteran head coach Scotty Bowman's swansong.

He retired amid the celebrations after winning the trophy 10 times.

Bowman had five Cup-winning teams at Montreal, three more in Detroit and two in Pittsburgh.

It's an NHL record unlikely to be bettered.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Todd Ant reports for BBC Sport on Super Bowl XXVII
"An exciting finish in New Orleans"
American journalist Bob Addison for BBC Sport
"This was a huge shock"
In-depth look back at a wonderful year of sport

Major events

Reviews

Sport in mourning

Funny Old Year

Sports Personality

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See also:

04 Feb 02 | US Sport
02 Apr 02 | US Sport
13 Jun 02 | US Sport
15 Jun 02 | US Sport
28 Oct 02 | Photo Galleries
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