After a global pandemic interrupted the sports world in 2020, sporting events resumed at the end of the year and two Los Angeles sports teams were crowned champions in the Lakers and Dodgers.

Championship City went without a title team in 2021, but there were still plenty of amazing moments throughout the year. From headline stealing signings and trades, to buzzer-beater’s and walk-offs, these are the top 20 most memorable moments in LA sports during the 2021 calendar year.


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Number 20: LA Rams acquire Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. in same week

The Los Angeles Rams stole all the headlines during the beginning of November when they traded for eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker and former Super Bowl Champion Von Miller, as well as three-time Pro Bowl wide-receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (featured above left) in the same week. Both players would end up making an impact on the team as they helped elevate the Rams to their fourth playoff appearance in the last five years. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)


No. 19: Rams defeat the Seahawks 30-20 in NFC Wild Card Round

After undergoing thumb surgery just two weeks prior, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff was listed as the backup in the team’s NFC Wild Card Game against the divisional rival Seahawks. However, Goff was thrown into action immediately and helped guide the Rams to victory in the playoffs.

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)


No. 18: Rams acquire QB Matthew Stafford in trade with Detroit Lions

We hate to follow with this in the order, but less than three weeks after Jared Goff helped lead the Rams to that playoff victory over the Seahawks, he was shipped out to Detroit in a trade with the Lions that sent Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles. Most people believed Stafford was an upgrade over Goff at the quarterback position, and he proved that early in the season. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)


No. 17 Dodgers trade for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner on same day Lakers trade for Russell Westbrook

July 30, 2021 was a great day for Los Angeles sports fans. As the MLB trade deadline was quickly approaching, the reigning World Series champion Dodgers pulled off a blockbuster by acquiring two All-Stars in three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner. Not to be outdone, hours later the Lakers acquired nine-time All-Star and former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook. Both trades were between LA and Washington teams, and would bolster the teams immediate championship aspirations.


No. 16: After 22 years, STAPLES Center changes name to Arena

LA sports fans were stunned when the Lakers announced that after 22 years STAPLES Center would change it’s name to arena after agreeing to a 20-year, $700 million naming rights deal with the cryptocurrency website. Controversy and public outcry would ensue, and on Dec. 23, 2021, the last game that the arena would be known as STAPLES Center, the Lakers celebrated the 22 years of history by showing some of the best moments at the venue over the last 22 years, and bringing back the Lakers legends that helped them win six NBA championships over that span. (Photo by Getty Images).


No. 15: The one-year anniversary of the death of Kobe Bryant

The world was stunned on January 26, 2020 when Lakers’ legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, were killed in a tragic helicopter crash alongside seven others. One year later, the emotions were still raw and the tears still streamed as fans marked the one-year anniversary of his death. Makeshift memorials went up across the Southland, including at STAPLES Center where Bryant played the entirety of his career with the purple and gold. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)


No. 14: Allyson Felix becomes the most decorated U.S. track and field Olympian of all time after winning her 11th medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

One year after it was originally scheduled to take place, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics went off with a bang in the summer of 2021. Among the many highlights for the United States, which one the most medals at the games with 113, including a high 39 golds, was Los Angeles native Allyson Felix. Felix took home a gold and bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and became the most decorated U.S. track and field Olympian of all time on August 6, 2021 following the Women’s 400M Final. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)


No. 13: USC Football fires Clay Helton and hires former Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley

2021 was a tumultuous and disappointing year for the University of Southern California football program. After opening the season with high hopes as the No. 15 ranked team in the country, the Trojans were blown out at home by Stanford, 42-28 in their second game of the season. Following the loss, USC fired head coach Clay Helton and finished the year with a record of 4-8, their worst since 1991. However, just before their final game of the season at Cal, the Trojans announced that they had hired former Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley. The news sent shockwaves through the college football landscape and immediately bolstered the Trojans program. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images and Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)


No. 12: The Dodgers 1+4 Game over the San Diego Padres

Rarely does a regular season game make our list of top moments, but this game is the exception. For context, with the Dodgers trailing the San Diego Padres 9-5 following the seventh inning stretch, fans at Dodger Stadium were beginning to grunt and groan with many heading for the exits. They had already seen that the Giants had won and a Dodgers loss would drop them to three games behind San Francisco in the standings with just four left to play on the season. That’s when the Dodgers took a couple pages from their own history books and completed one of the greatest late-inning comebacks in recent memory. The Dodgers hit one home run in the bottom of the 7th inning, and four in the top of the 8th inning to come back and stun the Padres 11-9. Corey Seager completed the comeback with a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth. The game was eerily reminiscent of a similar game 15 years prior against the same Padres on Sept. 18, 2006, when the Dodgers hit four homers in the bottom of the ninth, and one in the bottom of the 10th to comeback and beat San Diego by a score of 11-10. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


No. 11: SoFi Stadium opens to fans for the first time

NFL fans in Los Angeles were excited in 2016 when they broke ground on SoFi stadium at the site of the old Hollywood Park in Inglewood. Five years and $6 billion dollars later, fans were finally allowed into the venue to experience the state-of-the-art stadium on Aug. 14, 2021 when the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers squared off in a preseason game. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)


No. 10: Lakers rally to beat Warriors thanks to LeBron James game-winner from the logo in play-in game.

The Los Angeles Lakers title defense in the 2020-21 season was plagued by injuries as the reigning champions fell to the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference and had to host the Golden State Warriors in a play-in game on May 19, 2021. After trailing by more than 20 points in the first half, the Lakers came from behind to beat the Warriors thanks to this game-winning three-pointer over Steph Curry from the STAPLES CENTER logo as the shot clock expired. The Lakers would eventually go on to lose to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs after losing Anthony Davis to injury. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)


No. 9: AL MVP Shohei Ohtani makes history at the MLB All-Star Game

Japanese baseball sensation Shoehi Ohtani had one of the most amazing seasons in MLB history in 2021. But the unanimous American League MVP’s most memorable moment came during the 91st MLB All-Star Game at Coors Field in Colorado on July 13, 2021. Ohtani became the first player in MLB history to appear in an MLB All-Star game as both a pitcher and a hitter. Not only was he the first to accomplish the feat, but he was named the starter in both capacities. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)


No. 8: Tampa Bay Buccaneers win Super Bowl LV in Tom Brady’s first season with team

Even though Super Bowl LV didn’t take place in Los Angeles, or feature an LA based team, it still makes our list for featuring a handful of LA natives. The Buccaneers became the first team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl at their home stadium when LA natives Quinton Bell and Jaydon Mickens helped Tom Brady to hoist the Lombardi trophy in his first season in Tampa Bay. The game had other LA ties as well with former USC running back Ronald Jones II rushing for 61 yards and multiple former Rams players suiting up for both teams. The Bucs beat defeated Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs 31-9. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)


No. 7: LA Clippers advance to Western Conference Finals for first time in franchise history

After a history of playoff failures deemed the “Clippers curse,” the LA Clippers went somewhere their franchise had never been before in 2021: the Western Conference Finals. After a thrilling seven-game series against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, the Clippers squared off with the Utah Jazz in the second round, despite being without their best player in Kawhi Leonard. Most people figured the shorthanded Clippers would have no chance of beating the Jazz without Leonard, but Paul George stepped up in his absence and led the Clippers to a 131-119 victory in Game 6 of the series to send the Clippers to the Western Conference Finals. They would ultimately lose to the Suns in six games. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)


No. 6: The Atlanta Braves defeat the Houston Astros in the 2021 World Series

Despite defeating the reigning champion Los Angeles Dodgers in six games in the National League Championship Series, the Atlanta Braves still did the city of Los Angeles a favor when they defeated the cheating Houston Astros in the 2021 World Series. Four Southern California natives each played pivotal roles in the Braves defeating the Astros, who defeated the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series in large part due to a sign-stealing scandal that the organization was “punished” for at the end of the 2019 season. SoCal favorites Freddie Freeman, Max Fried, (both pictured above) Travis d’Arnaud, and Tyler Matzek all helped Atlanta lift the Commissioner’s Trophy. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)


Harry How/Getty Images

No. 5: Dodgers Defeat Cardinals in NL Wild Card Game thanks to Chris Taylor’s walk-off homer

In any other year, this moment could easily top our list, but in Championship City there are always memorable moments in sports. After matching the franchise record (set in 2019) with 106 wins, the Los Angeles Dodgers finished second in the NL West and were forced to play the St. Louis Cardinals in a one-game, winner-take-all matchup at Dodger Stadium. With the game tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Dodgers’ utility player Chris Taylor stepped to the plate against Cards’ closer Alex Reyes. Despite not starting the game, Taylor crushed a two-run, walk-off homer in to the left field seats that sent the Dodgers to the National League Division Series. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)


No. 4: USC and UCLA advance to the Elite 8 for the first time in history with the Bruins advancing to the Final Four

After the NCAA tournament was canceled in 2020, March Madness returned in 2021 with high hopes for the two Los Angeles based colleges USC and UCLA. USC entered the tournament as a 6-seed and UCLA as an 11-seed underdog. Despite their rankings, both teams steamrolled through the first three rounds, completing huge upsets along the way. For the first time in the 83-year history of the tournament, both schools reached the Elite 8. USC lost to the No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga, and UCLA upset top seed Michigan to reach the Final Four. In the semifinal against Gonzaga, UCLA was on the precipice of an upset before Jalen Suggs hit a buzzer-beater from half court to beat the Bruins.

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)


No. 3 Dodgers defeat rival Giants in winner-take-all Game 5 of NLDS

In the 132-year history of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry, the two teams had never met in the playoffs. That was until 2021, when the two teams with the two best records in baseball collided in a five-game NLDS for the ages. The back-and-forth battle of the series was epic, so inevitably, it had to reach a winner-take-all Game 5 at Oracle Park in San Francisco. Before the game, Hall of Fame Dodgers’ broadcaster Vin Scully tweeted, “this is the most important game in the history of their rivalry.” Not only was he correct, the game lived up to the expectations. Los Angeles decided not to start 20-game winner Julio Urias and opted for an opener instead just hours before first pitch. Urias eventually entered the game in the third inning and Corey Seager broke the scoreless tie with an RBI double in the 6th. Darin Ruf tied the game with a solo shot off Urias, but Cody Bellinger recaptured the lead with an RBI single in the top of the 9th. That set the stage for three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer to enter the game in the bottom of the 9th as the closer. Scherzer struck out Wilmer Flores on a controversial check-swing call that won the series and sent the Dodgers to the NLCS. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)


No. 2: Opening Day at Dodger Stadium with fans for World Series ring ceremony

Winning the 2020 World Series inside the bubble in Arlington, Texas was our top LA sports moment of last year, so it was only fitting to recognize it again this year. After nearly two years and a span of 550 days between appearances, fans were finally allowed back inside Dodger Stadium for the Dodgers’ Opening Day of the 2021 season. A lot had happened over that span: the Dodgers traded for Mookie Betts, won the World Series in a 60-game shortened season, then lost a lot of cornerstone players and added some new ones over the winter. All the while, there was not so much as a peep, parade, or presentation to celebrate the Dodgers winning the World Series. So needless to say, when the team announced that fans would be allowed back inside Dodger Stadium at reduced capacity to celebrate the Dodgers accomplishment and watch them receive their World Series rings for the first time in 33 years, it was a very big deal. Two of the longest tenured Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw, and Kenley Jansen, who each exorcised their own postseason demons during that 2020 title run, were amongst the players that received the loudest ovations during the ceremony. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)


No. 1: Kobe Bryant is posthumously inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame

Since the day he played his first game with the Los Angeles Lakers, everybody knew that Kobe Bryant would one day be in the basketball Hall of Fame. So it came as no surprise when he was announced as a nominee in December of 2019. But after his shocking death on January 26, 2020, it was bittersweet when Hall-of-Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo confirmed the following day that Bryant would be among the nine inductees. However, because of the pandemic, the 2020 Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony was postponed until May of 2021. That’s when the whole world tuned in to watch the tribute to Kobe Bryant that featured a performance by musician Ne-Yo, induction by Michael Jordan, and an acceptance speech by Vanessa Bryant. Needles to say, there was not a dry eye in the house. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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