If you have been on social media over the past year, you have probably seen a post or two titled “2016 is the Worst Year Ever.” While there have been a list of things that may not have gone your way in 2016, this past sports year has given us plenty to be thankful for. 2016 was full of crazy comebacks and impact plays that will be cemented in our memories for years to come. Here are a few of the highlights that made this past sports year so great.
2016 NCAA Basketball Championship: Villanova Guard Kris Jenkins hit a buzzer beater 3 pointer to beat North Carolina 77-74. North Carolina guard Marcus Paige hit an incredible three as he double-clutched in mid-air to tie the game at 74 with 4.7 seconds left. With the game tied, Villanova’s senior point guard drove the length of the court before passing the ball to Kris Jenkins for the game winning 3.
2016 English Premiere League: Leicester City opened up with a 5,000-1 chance of winning the EPL and miraculously came through to win. NDNU student Luis Ortiz said, “What Leicester City did will never happen again. Compare it to an NBA D-League team winning the NBA Finals.”
2016 NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the Golden State Warriors after being down 3 games to 1 in a best of 7 series. This series still stings for the many Golden State Warriors fans in the Bay Area, but to discredit the greatness of this series would be unwise. For the first time in the NBA Finals, a team down 3 games to 1 had won 3 straight elimination games to win the championship. After Cleveland won games 5 and 6, game 7 in Oakland was an instant classic. Down the stretch Lebron James had an epic run down block on Warriors Forward Andre Iguodala’s lay up attempt. Then with 52 seconds left in the game Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving hit the go ahead 3 pointer to finish off the Warriors.
2016 World Series: Chicago Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. They were done 3 games to 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in a best of 7 series. Game 7 was an epic back and forth game that saw the Cubs winning in extra innings by a score of 8-7.
2016 NCAA Football Championship: The Clemson Tigers defeated the previously unbeaten Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31. Clemson Quarterback Deshaun Watson threw a two-yard game winning touchdown pass to receiver Hunter Renfrow with one second remaining in the game.
2017 Super Bowl: The Atlanta Falcons were up 28-3 on the New England Patriots. The Patriots made a historic comeback to create the first ever overtime in Super Bowl history with the score tied at 28. The Patriots went on to score a touchdown on the first drive in overtime to win 34-28. The previous record for a Super Bowl comeback was 10 points. With nine minutes left in the 4th quarter, ESPN gave the Atlanta Falcons a 99.6% chance of winning.
As for Bay Area fans, 2016 had its ups and downs. It was encouraging to see 4 out of our 6 major sports franchises make the playoffs. However it is still difficult to get over how the Warriors and Giants ended their playoff seasons by giving up huge leads. The Sharks went as far as they ever had by making it to the Stanley Cup Finals, but sometimes getting that close only makes the loss hurt more. And we never got to see the full potential of the Oakland Raiders. It seemed that they had hit their peak as they scored 5 consecutive touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts in week 16. Then Derrick Carr broke his femurand they were quickly eliminated from the playoffs two weeks later. NDNU Junior George Jimenez said, “I was almost expecting something like this to happen because us Raiders fans had to be reminded that we can’t have nice things.”
Through it all, the 2016 season gave us amazing games. Many of us will be telling our kids about how Cleveland beat the Warriors, and how the Cubs finally won the World Series.
CNN writer Brandon Griggs said, “Between wars, terror attacks, a toxic presidential election and a rash of celebrity deaths, it has been a pretty lousy year for the world. But when it comes to historic moments in sports, 2016 was a champ.”