Here are the top 10 Seattle sports moments that defined 2022
It was a tough task, but here are the top 10 moments in Seattle sports this year, ranked.
2022 was a big year for Seattle sports across the board.
The Seahawks traded Russell Wilson and then defied preseason expectations. The Mariners ended a 21-year postseason drought. Storm legend Sue Bird called it a career.
Soccer made its stamp on the year too, with the Sounders winning the Concacaf Champions League final, the OL Reign nearly winning the NWSL Championship and Seattle being chosen as a host site for the 2026 World Cup.
So with another excellent year winding down, let's rank the top 10 moments that defined Seattle sports in 2022.
There were some hard decisions to make in whittling down the list to just 10 moments.
That means the Kraken announcing its first mascot, Buoy, just missed the cut.
The adorable (terrifying?) Buoy is a six-foot-tall blue sea troll that was inspired by the Fremont Troll.
When Buoy isn't entertaining Kraken fans during games, he's living deep in the caverns of Climate Pledge Arena.
LeBron returns to Seattle
The Crawsover Pro-Am event was the hottest event in August as people waited in line for hours to get a chance to see Lebron James and other NBA stars return to a Seattle court.
It was James' first time in Seattle in more than 15 years. The Seattle Supersonics' final season ended in 2008 before the franchise was relocated to Oklahoma City.
A large crowd gathered early in the morning at Seattle Pacific University because entrance to the public was free.
A number of big-name players with Washington state connections also attended including Isaiah Thomas, Chet Holmgren, Dejounte Murray and Paolo Banchero.
OL Reign nearly make NWSL Championship
OL Reign nearly made its third National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) Championship in 2022, after bowing out in the semifinals.
The Reign finished the regular season with the most points (40) and were the No. 1 seed headed into the playoffs. The club's impressive regular season granted the Seattle-based team a first-round bye in the six-team playoff field
The team's playoff run was cut short by a fifth-seeded Kansas City Current team that scored an early goal and added another in the second half to secure a 2-0 victory on the road.
While the Reign's title aspirations were cut short in 2022, the club set a new record for attendance in the defeat. The 21,491 fans in attendance at Lumen Field nearly doubled the club's previous record.
Led by a star-studded team with eight women that played for their national soccer teams in October, the OL Reign captured the heart of Seattle fans this year.
Sounders win Concacaf Champions League
Even though the Seattle Sounders missed the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons, it was still a historic season for the club that has been the gold standard of the American-based soccer league.
With its 3-0 win in the Concacaf Champions League (CCL) Final, the Sounders became the first team from MLS to claim the championship for club teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean. Seattle was the fifth MLS team to reach the CCL final and the first to finish the task since the tournament's current format was adopted in 2008.
Sounders forward Raúl Ruidíaz scored on a deflected shot late in the first half and added a second goal off a perfect counterattack in the 80th minute as Seattle beat Liga MX's Pumas 3-0 in the second leg of the final.
The 68,761 people that created a raucous environment at Lumen Field for the final was the largest crowd to ever attend a match in any round of the CCL tournament.
Seattle's Lumen Field selected as 2026 World Cup site
Seattle's Lumen Field was chosen in June to be one of 11 stadiums in the United States slated to host matches for the 2026 World Cup.
The 69,000-seat capacity venue nestled in Seattle's SODO neighborhood will host several matches for the expanded 48-team World Cup.
FIFA's announcement will bring the World Cup back to the Pacific Northwest for the first time since Portland hosted matches for the 1999 and 2003 Women's World Cups. The United States last hosted the World Cup in 1994.
Lumen Field, which hosts the Seahawks, Sounders and OL Reign during the year, will need to convert its artificial turf to grass suitable for World Cup matches before the prestigious tournament is expected to begin in June 2026.
The United States, Mexico and Canada will share hosting duties for the 2026 World Cup, the first-ever iteration of the tournament with three co-hosts. Sixty games will be played in the U.S., including every match after the quarterfinals when the field is limited to eight teams. Canada and Mexico will host 10 games each.
Seattle's World Cup bid has been in the making since 2015. Private and public sectors spent over seven years making the case that Seattle is worthy of hosting World Cup matches.
"We're talking about a global event," said Markham McIntyre, interim director of Seattle's Office of Economic Development. "It's kind of like having a Super Bowl for each one of these games."
Visit Seattle said the city could generate between $90-100 million in economic activity depending on the number of World Cup games Seattle is slated to host.
Visit Seattle estimates needing 10,000 hotel rooms within a two-hour drive of Lumen Field. So far, 6,000 hotel rooms have already been booked despite the four-year gap before the start of the 2026 World Cup.
Mariners' marathon game against Astros
Let's try to keep this section shorter than the 6-hour and 22-minute affair Mariners fans endured in the closing game of the American League Division Series (ALDS).
Facing a 2-0 deficit in a five-game series, the Mariners traveled back to T-Mobile Park for Game 3 with its season on the line. The occasion also happened to be the Mariners' first home postseason game in 21 years.
So, yeah, it was a big deal.
The deciding game did not deliver on big scoring moments - in fact, there were no runs scored in 17 consecutive innings - but it delivered on top-tier drama. As each successive inning ended without a run, the mounting dread for the hopeful Mariners fans loomed and loomed and loomed.
The two teams left a combined 24 batters on base and used 18 pitchers in the historic stalemate that didn't show any signs of ending.
Eventually, the Astros' Jeremy Pena clobbered a home run in the top of the 18th inning for the game's winning run. In one sweeping swing of the bat, the Mariners' magical season was over.
In a season defined by history-making performances, the Mariners and Astros' 18-inning marathon tied the MLB record for the longest postseason game ever.
Storm legend Sue Bird announces retirement
Seattle Storm legend Sue Bird announced she would be retiring at the end of the 2022 WNBA season in June, marking the end of a Hall of Fame career.
Bird's WNBA career officially ended on Sept. 6 after the Storm lost in four games to the Las Vegas Aces in the semifinals. The 42-year-old legend started all four games of the series, averaging 8.3 points and 8.5 assists.
Bird had been a mainstay in the Storm organization since being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 WNBA draft. She never played for another team in her career.
Given her resume and longevity, Bird has a legitimate case for being Seattle's best professional athlete of all time.
Bird, the WNBA's all-time leader in assists (3,234) and starts (580), was the only player to appear in over 500 career games.
The four-time WNBA champion (2004, 2010, 2018, 2020) averaged 11.7 points, 5.6 assists, 2.5 rebounds per game and 42.9 percent shooting for her career.
Her international success put her in rarefied air, too. She was a five-time Olympic gold medalist (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020), making her just the sixth player in history to win an NCAA Championship, a WNBA Championship and an Olympic gold medal.
Seahawks trade Russell Wilson to Denver
The Seahawks really traded its franchise quarterback to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a haul of draft picks. Just one week earlier, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said effusively that the team was not shopping Wilson.
The trade ended months of speculation over Wilson's future. The Seahawks claimed Wilson requested a trade, initiating trade discussions with other teams, but the quarterback has said the decision was mutual.
In return for Wilson, the Seahawks received quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, two first-round picks, two second-round picks and a fifth-round pick.
In the aftermath of the blockbuster deal, it seemed like a win for the Broncos, who were getting one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. The Seahawks had to start over at the league's most important position without Wilson, who led the franchise to its only Super Bowl title in 2013 and eight postseason appearances.
Turns out, it was an unmitigated disaster for the Broncos and a massive coup for the Seahawks, who are still in playoff contention with Geno Smith as its starting quarterback.
The Broncos, meanwhile, are last in its division with a 4-11 record. Wilson has thrown just 12 touchdowns in 13 starts, first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett was fired and the franchise is on the hook for a massive $245 million extension for the struggling 34-year-old.
The Seahawks are 7-7, just outside the fringes of the NFC playoffs. And, to make matters even better, will likely have a top-five pick in the 2023 NFL Draft courtesy of Wilson's Broncos.
Right now, the Seahawks' first-round pick earned in the Wilson trade would be No. 3 overall.
Mariners win AL Wild Card series
Wait, this is No. 3?
Yes, but if you argued for this moment to be placed higher in the rankings, I wouldn't push back too much.
The Mariners, fresh off making the postseason for the first time since 2001, traveled to Toronto as underdogs in the AL Wild Card series. The Blue Jays had a star-studded lineup full of power hitters and home-field advantage for the entire best-of-3 series.
It didn't amount to much, as the Mariners won the first game of the series 4-0 and erased a seven-run deficit in Game 2 to sweep the Blue Jays out of the postseason on their home field.
Magic Mariners back at it again.
Seahawks beat Wilson's Broncos on Monday Night Football
The Seahawks' first regular-season game in the post-Russell Wilson era was, fittingly, against Wilson and his new team.
The setting could not have been more ideal for Seahawks fans feeling jilted by Wilson in the offseason.
Not only was it the Seahawks' 2022 season opener, but the game was also on Monday Night Football in front of a raucous home crowd.
The Broncos were favored heading into the game, with few pundits giving Seattle a chance of an upset.
In a glimpse of how the 2022 season would eventually unfold, the Seahawks held on for a 17-16 win as Denver missed what would have been a game-winning field goal as time expired.
Mariners end the drought
There were a lot of exceptional moments in Seattle sports in 2022, but this is the only moment deserving of the top spot.
The Mariners' 21-year drought without making the playoffs was the longest active streak in American professional sports.
Was being the keyword in that sentence, of course.
Seattle snapped its historic drought in the absolutely best possible way. Tied 1-1 in the ninth inning, catcher Cal Raleigh thumped a walk-off home run into the right field deck to send the Mariners dancing back into the playoffs.
It was poetic, the best representation of the unique power sports have in our community.
The drought was officially over, as Mariners fans lined the streets to celebrate the momentous occasion.
What a team. What a season. What a year. Let's do it all again in 2023.