Editor's note: As 2011 comes to a close, NESN.com takes a look back at the year in sports. Our "11 in 11" series will run during the last 11 days of 2011, reviewing the highs and lows of the memorable year that was.
Tim Thomas' level of play during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run last season was so high that he likely would have won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs regardless of whether or not the B's defeated the Canucks in Game 7. The fact that he was able to help the B's seal the deal with another shutout is just further validation that he belongs on this year's list of top sports performers. In fact, he deserved to be on any such list before the postseason even began because of his superb regular season.
Aaron Rodgers and Dirk Nowitzki are other athletes who were no-brainers when it came to compiling a list of 2011's top 11 performers. Others, however, just squeaked by, slipping past those other athletes and coaches who enjoyed a solid year but ultimately didn't make our cut.
Judging by the talent of some of the names on our list, there's always the potential for some repeat performances in 2012. There are still those who you may have forgotten or who might surprise you, though.