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Bruce Jenner won the decathlon and mile-record holder John Walker the 1,500, but 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci of Romania stole the show at the Montreal Olympics, scoring the first perfect 10 in gymnastics history and winning three gold medals. Julius Erving, the "Dr. J" of the champion New York Nets, was named the MVP in the American Basketball Association's last year. In June the ABA merged with the established NBA. Later the Philadelphia 76ers paid $6.5 million for Dr. J.
The balletic pass receiving of Lynn Swann and a tight defense gave the Steelers Super Bowl X, 21-17 over Dallas. Yankee Stadium, remodeled at a cost of some $100 million, reopened, and the Yanks, managed by Billy Martin, responded by winning their first pennant in a dozen years. In the Series, however, they were swept in four games by the Reds. Charlie Finley's sales of Vida Blue to the Yanks for $1.5 million and Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers to Boston for $1 million each were vetoed by Kuhn.
Two teen-agers captured the fancy of the public. At 14, Tracy Austin became the youngest player to make the Top 10 in women's tennis, the youngest to win a professional tournament singles championship, the youngest to enter the U.S. Open, where she reached the quarterfinals, and the youngest to play at Wimbledon. And Steve Cauthen, who turned 17 in May, electrified racing by becoming the nation's leading rider, bringing home purses amounting to a record $6 million.
Tom Watson won the Masters and his second British Open, amassing $310,653 as the PGA tour's leading money-winner. Bill Walton, injury-free for the first time in his pro basketball career, played brilliantly in leading the team-oriented Portland Trail Blazers to the NBA championship over the Philadelphia 76ers. Walton was named the series' MVP. Los Angeles' Kareem Abdul-Jabbar repeated as the league's MVP. Seattle Slew became the first undefeated horse to win the Triple Crown. Reggie Jackson gave an awesome performance as the Yankees defeated the Dodgers in the World Series. Jackson hit homers in his last four official times at bat—all on first pitches—and five overall to set Series records. His three homers in the final game tied him with Babe Ruth for most hit in one Series game. Rod Carew, whose .388 average was the highest in 20 years, won his sixth league batting title.
At Indianapolis, A. J. Foyt took the 500 for a record fourth time. Bill Rodgers won his second straight New York City Marathon over a record field of 4,823. The Chicago Bears' Walter Payton set an NFL single-game rushing record by gaining 275 yards against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 20, surpassing the record of 273 held by O. J. Simpson. In Pasadena, Ken Stabler's Oakland Raiders won their first Super Bowl and Fran Tarkenton's Vikings lost their fourth, by a crushing 32-14 before a record 103,438 spectators and a TV audience of 81 million, at the time the largest ever to watch a sports event.
As the quarter-century waned, Roger Bannister's youthful countryman, Sebastian Coe, 22, brought the mile record full circle back to England. Competing in Oslo against a splendid field that included record holder John Walker, Coe lowered Walker's mark by .4 of a second to 3:49. The New Zealander finished sixth. Ireland's Eamonn Coghlan, who had set an indoor record of 3:52.6 in February, ran fourth. Twelve days before the mile, on the same track, Coe had broken Alberto Juantorena's 800-meter world record by a full second with a 1:42.4. At Wimbledon, Bjorn Borg won the singles championship for the fourth year in a row, the first man to do so in modern times.