The 20 Sports Questions That Will Dominate 2011

LeBron James

From “The Decision” to Butler’s near-upset of Duke for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. 2010 was rife with drama. 

Can 2011 top it? From Michael Vick to Cliff Lee to Armando Galarraga, the previous year showed us how impossible it is to predict the future.

But there are definitely some storylines that we already know we’ll be paying close attention to.

20: Where will Carmelo Anthony end up?

It's become a question of when, not if, the Nuggets will move 'Melo. His clear preference is to join the New York Knicks, but the team may not have the pieces to make Denver an acceptable offer. If so, will someone take a chance on 'renting' the superstar, or will he agree to an extension with the New Jersey Nets?

19: Will football ever return to L.A.?

AEG has been very proactive in its plans to build a new stadium in Los Angeles and get an NFL team to play there. It didn't appear likely that this would happen soon, but when the Metrodome roof collapsed the process was accelerated.

18: Do the Red Sox finally have the Yankees where they want them?

Boston was an afterthought in the American League last year, but with a huge offseason the Red Sox are back in a big way. The Yankees were crushed to lose Cliff Lee, and all of a sudden New York looks very vulnerable. Get ready for some fireworks.

17: Will the big-name NFL coaches come back?

Plenty of NFL teams will be looking for new coaches when the season ends, and the good news is that there's no shortage of attractive candidates. Will previous Super Bowl winners Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher return?

The Cardinals can't let the face of their franchise hit free agency, can they? Well, Pujols is reportedly looking for 'A-Rod money' and if that's the case, the Cardinals might have a hard time finding enough cash to keep him. If Pujols reaches free agency, we could have the 'Winter of Pujols' a year after the 'Summer of LeBron.'

15: What about NHL labour and negotiations? And will they ever get back on ESPN?

The 2011 season isn't in jeopardy, but if progress isn't made this year the league could face its second work stoppage in less than a decade. The NHLPA has a new executive director in place and is determined not to be bullied this time around.

14: What will happen to the New Orleans Hornets?

The NBA has assumed ownership of the franchise for now, and insists that it will stay in New Orleans. But floundering fan interest could make that impossible. David Stern couldn't allow the team to trade Chris Paul, could he?

13: How will the U.S. fare in the 2011 Women's World Cup?

The U.S. is thought to be one of the favourites for the World Cup, but it will face stiff competition from Brazil and Germany. The Americans will open against North Korea on June 28.

12: How will the new March Madness format play out?

Three more teams have been added to the tournament, but more importantly, the Big Dance will finally be broadcast on more than one channel, meaning we'll have access to all the heart-stopping action.

11: Will Brett Favre FINALLY retire?

Favre has taken a beating this year and after a remarkable season in 2009, he finally seems to have hit the end of the road. The question is whether or not he's willing to admit that. So far, he's made it pretty clear that this is it. But we've all heard that before.

10: Cam Newton or Andrew Luck?

If Luck declares, he's a likely number one. But the Heisman Trophy winner's talent and energy is undeniable. There's no shortage of teams looking for quarterbacks, but will Newton's stock drop because of all the negative publicity?

9: Will we get any closer to a college football playoff?

We hope for this every year, but it seems like progress is starting to be made thanks to efforts by folks like Mark Cuban. It won't be implemented this year, but we might finally see a long-term plan develop.

8: Will Manny Pacquiao fight Floyd Mayweather?

This fight has been talked about forever, but numerous obstacles including Mayweather's legal problems have gotten in the way. There's a ton of money on the line here though, so there's still a solid chance these two face off in 2011.

7: How much money will Michael Vick get from the Philadelphia Eagles?

The team doesn't want to negotiate with Vick until a new CBA is in place, but one way or another he's about to get a huge deal. Vick's comeback story has been well-documented, and he's about to get paid like one of the NFL's elite players. What will the Eagles do with Kevin Kolb?

6: How will the Phillies super-rotation do?

When the Phillies swooped in to sign Cliff Lee, it shocked the sports world. Now it's World Series or bust for Philadelphia. The Phillies pitching staff could be historically good, but will it live up to the hype?

5: Will Tiger Woods reclaim his throne?

Tiger has had an awful lot on his plate this year, and his game clearly suffered. He's slowly returning to the public spotlight, but will his golf game ever be the same?

4: Can Miami's Big 3 reach the promised land?

After a rocky start to the season the Miami Heat seem to have figured things out ... at least against bad teams. Still, they're the clear second-best team in the Eastern Conference behind the Boston Celtics. How good will they be by June? Will it matter if the Lakers or Mavs get their act together?

3. Who has the most to fear from the tell-all ESPN book?

Jim Miller and Tom Shales haven't released a single advanced copy of their new book 'Those Guys Have All the Fun' which promises to reveal plenty of juicy tidbits about life at ESPN. The authors interviewed hundreds of ESPN employees and industry insiders to put together their book, and ESPN appears to be shaking in its boots. Supposedly one ESPN TV personality lost his/her contract extension because of something revealed in the book.

2. Will there be an NBA lockout?

The NBPA sure thinks so. The owners and player are still very far apart on key issues like salary rollbacks and a hard salary cap that make it difficult to believe an agreement is near.

1. Will there be an NFL lockout?

There have been recent indications that an NFL lockout might be avoidable, but right now a deal isn't close. If the NFLPA will agree to an 18-game season, this could be over sooner than later. If not, it's going to get messy.

No American sport has ever been more popular than the NFL is right now. If the 2011 season goes up in flames, sports fans will not still for long.

Why not take one more look back at this year?

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