2017 was a great year for sports.
The year started with the most dramatic comeback in Super Bowl history and never let up, with exciting storylines taking over baseball, basketball, and even boxing.
On Wednesday, Google released its top-trending searches of 2017 as part of their “Year in Search 2017,” and the athletes that made the list vary from surprising to almost-too-obvious, ranging from breakout rookies to undefeated fighters and many more in between.
Below you can check out the most searched-for athletes of 2017, and learn a bit about what exactly made each of them so compelling to users.
10. Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas was one of the best stories in basketball last season, breaking out as a dominant player and leading the Celtics the top seed in the East. He became beloved in Boston, taking over games in the fourth quarter and wearing his emotions publicly.
Tragedy struck Thomas and his family when the postseason came around, when his sister died in a car accident just hours before he was to take the court for the Celtics. Thomas decided to play in the game, prompting a beautiful moment as the Boston crowd greeted him with a huge ovation.
After the Celtics’ playoff run was ended by the Cavaliers, many thought that Thomas would be in Boston for the rest of his career, having become so beloved by the city. But the Cavs and Celtics instead decided to swap All-Star point guards in one of the biggest trades in recent memory.
Thomas is dealing with an ongoing injury, but is set to make his debut with the Cavaliers in the next few weeks, and LeBron is excited to bring him into the team’s gameplan.
9. Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia had a year he will never forget in 2017. First and foremost, he won his first Green Jacket, taking the Masters after a dramatic final few holes against Justin Rose. He celebrated the win with his fiancée, and has now won over $US70 million in his career.
He also became just the 8th player in history to hit a hole-in-one at the fabled No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass. In one story equal parts creepy and cool, a fan that tweeted at Garcia 206 days in a row got the opportunity of a lifetime, carrying his bag for a day.
Still, not every highlight was a good one for Sergio this season. He showed his frustration on the course on multiple occasions, and almost had to withdraw from The Open Championship after fighting a bush. In another tournament, Garcia broke his putter early in his round, leaving him to putt with his 3-wood for his remaining holes.
8. Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony was in the news this year for a plethora of reasons. Heading into 2017, his contentious relationship with the Knicks’ front office was discussed in many NBA circles, with rumours of a looming trade to either Cleveland or Houston running rampant. After trading a few subtweets with Phil Jackson, and just before an awkward reunion at training camp, Melo’s time with the Knicks came to a somewhat surprising end, with a trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
And soon after that, the legend of “Hoodie Melo” was born.
7. Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball became a lightning rod of attention with the help of his pass-first style of play and the bold proclamations of his boisterous father LaVar. At UCLA, Ball began to make headlines, notably when his father said, “You can’t win no championship with 3 white guys,” after the Bruins’ early exit.
From there, things only got crazier. The elder Ball predicted a billion dollar shoe deal for his sons, and when Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas passed on the offer, released Lonzo’s debut shoe under his own Big Baller Brand.
When Lonzo was drafted with the second overall pick by the Lakers, LaVar didn’t stopmaking noise onbehalf of his son. This lead to a greater focus on Lonzo, who has been targeted by opposing players on the court with everything from hard fouls to online trolling. Even with his struggles, Lonzo has been an impressive player to watch work through his rookie season, and will undoubtedly continue to be a compelling story for NBA fans.
6. Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge had one of the greatest rookie seasons in baseball history, hitting 52 home runs, batting an impressive.284, and helping to lead the Yankees to the ALCS.
Judge became a must-see sensation for his monstrous home runs, hitting dingers that put dents in Yankee stadium, defied NASA, and left outfielders to simply stare in awe of his power. His home run hitting prowess seemed never ending, as he broke a Mark McGwire record that had stood for 30 years, won his first Home Run Derby, and even smacked one out of the park in his first career playoff game.
But for all the talk of his bat, Judge’s defence was nothing to scoff at either, with multiple impressive catches at the wall to rob opposing players and fans of home runs. He already has his own cheering section, and with Giancarlo Stanton joining him on the Bronx Bombers next year, the Yankees are looking like one of the most compelling teams in baseball for years to come.
And finally, he’s likely the most photogenic player in the majors.
5. Tony Romo
Tony Romo was a popular athlete when he was still starting for the Dallas Cowboys, but his career has taken off in a completely new way now that he has taken his talents to the commentators booth.
While early in the year there was speculation that he might return to the league, in April, Romo officially retired and announced that he would be joining the CBS broadcast team. Fans were unsure on how Romo would fair in the booth, but once he joined Jim Nantz and the rest of the CBS crew, the reviews were immediate and exceedingly positive.
As a colour commentator, Romo has proven to have an almost psychic ability to predict plays before they happen, and has revealed insights and observations about the game that casual football fans aren’t used to getting from a broadcast.
4. Paul George
In an NBA offseason filled with shocking deals, Paul George was one of the most talented players on the market. The drama started as the 2016-17 NBA season came to an end, when it became clear that George wanted out of Indiana, going as far as to criticise some of his teammates during tough stretches of the season.
Once Indiana accepted that their best course of action was to move George, he was the subject of wild trade speculation, with rumours attaching him to the Lakers, Warriors, Celtics, Cavaliers, Wizards, and basically any other team that had potential room for a new contract for him in 2018.
3. Aaron Boone
Aaron Boone made a late surge to become a most searched-for athlete this year after being announced as the new manager of the New York Yankees.
After Joe Girardi was ousted from the job despite an ALCS appearance, speculation on the next man for the job immediately began, with several candidates considered before eventually deciding on Aaron Boone.
2. Gordon Hayward
Gordon Hayward made headlines in two phases this year.
First, he was one of the other big names that changed teams in a wild NBA offseason, joining the Boston Celtics in a trade that appeared to change the balance of power in the Eastern Conference.
Unfortunately, disaster struck Hayward’s next chapter immediately, when he horrifically broke his ankle in the first quarter of the first game of the NBA season. The injury was so brutal that it caused players on the opposing bench to react in horror, and Hayward had to be carted off the court. Later, it was announced that Hayward would miss the entirety of the season.
Hayward is slowly working toward recovery and will hopefully will be ready to re-debut with the Celtics next season.
1. Floyd Mayweather
While it turned out to be more of a spectacle than an actual fight, there’s no doubt that the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor was the most dominant sporting event of the year in terms of headlines.
After months of speculation, the fight was officially set in June and kicked off week after week of trash talk between the two fighters, with the boasting on both sides escalated exponentially in the lead-up to their eventual meeting in the ring.
Mayweather was the heavy favourite in the fight, getting the backing of every boxing expert in the business and the biggest bettors in Las Vegas, but the public never stopped believing in the underdog McGregor.
Now check out the sports teams people searched for the most in 2017
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