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Is 2016 the Greatest Year in Sports? – Part I

LeBron James' famous block on Andre Iguodala. Photo courtesy of Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.

Major sports leagues throughout the world always have their fair share of upsets and cinderella stories. Even during intense rivalry matchups, fans can only ever ask for a great game at the end of the day. In major championships, great games end seasons on a high note for all fans. Blowouts end the season on a lower note – is it really fun to watch the supposed two best teams fight it out only to watch one team manhandle their opponents? Take Super Bowl XLVIII as an example, when the Seattle Seahawks destroyed the Denver Broncos 43-8. That’s tied for the third largest point differential in Super Bowl history, and from the perspective of fans, it was simply a boring game to watch.

Luckily, 2016 has been anything but boring for sports – perhaps even the greatest year in Sports, ever. Let’s go through some highlights.

NBA Finals

The Cleveland Cavaliers comeback to defeat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Championship (in other words the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead). LeBron James lost his role as one of the most hated players in the NBA and people were actually rooting for the Cavs. Weird right? Well when they’re playing the cockiest team in the NBA led by league MVP Steph Curry, fans have to pick the lesser evil. The Warriors were the headline of the NBA with their record setting 73 win season, giving them a bad guy label. LeBron’s stuff on Andre Iguodala’s fast break and Kyrie Irving’s three pointer over Steph Curry were one of many highlights from Game 7. The Warriors series lead of 3 games to 1 was a disappointing yet expected result, but the Cavs coming back and LeBron winning his third NBA ring was simply greatness.

MLB World Series

The Chicago Cubs defeat the Indians in Game 7 of the World Series in extra innings. In perhaps one of the greatest World Series in the history of the MLB, the Cleveland Indians also jumped to an early 3-1 lead in the series, but a combination of the lack of pitching and other roster injuries left the Indians tired and sore in the final three games. The Cubs, even with the best record in the MLB, went into the series as underdogs given their 108 year World Series drought. Game 7 had everything. 10 pitchers, a rain delay at the end of the ninth inning, five home runs, nail biting at bats, and three runs in the final inning.

Men’s College Basketball National Championship

Villanova wins the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship thanks to Kris Jenkins’ last second buzzer beater. UNC’s Marcus Paige made a deep, acrobatic three-pointer to tie the game with 4.7 seconds remaining. It was clear this game was going to overtime, highlighting what had already been a fantastic matchup between the number two seed Villanova and the number one seed North Carolina. Fans were going crazy already after Page’s shot, but then Villanova trusted Kris Jenkins with the final shot of regulation. He heaved a deep three before the buzzer and time seemingly slowed until it swished. The Wildcats stormed the court and everyone watching was left stunned.

College Football National Championship

Clemson defeated Alabama in the College Football Championship with a last second

touchdown. The 2016 college football season culminated with a rematch between Clemson and Alabama. Alabama won in a nailbiter in the previous season’s National Championship, and Clemson found themselves down once again with five minutes left in the game. Clemson running Wayne Gallman found the endzone to give Clemson a four point lead with 4:28 remaining. Alabama’s freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts immediately responded with a touchdown drive, giving DeShaun Watson two minutes for one final drive. With one second left on the clock, Watson found Hunter Renfrow with a two yard touchdown, capping off an incredible college football career and an incredible game.

Super Bowl LI

Patriots coming back from a 25 point deficit to defeat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. If you went to sleep after the third quarter ended, you probably weren’t alone. The first half of the game was probably one of the most boring halves I’ve ever watched. Tom Brady was throwing behind his receivers, the Patriots defense forgot how to stop the run, and Matt Ryan looked perfect (reflected by his perfect first quarter QBR of 158.3). Whatever Bill Belichick said in the locker room at halftime didn’t even register until the fourth quarter for the Patriots, but it sure did register with them. Brady, with the help of James White, Julian Edelman, and pretty much every other Patriots receiver and running back, scored 31 unanswered points against the Falcons. Matt Ryan disappeared, and those who did stay tuned in witnessed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. The entire thing seemed to be a fairy tale, especially since Brady came out of the locker room in the second half as a completely different player. He threw for 467 yards (although I’ll admit when I saw that stat at the end of the game I scratched my head wondering where all those passing yards came from) and won his fifth Super Bowl ring in seven attempts. The 2016 NFL season playoffs were fairly boring. Either a blowout or horrible play by both teams. Never judge a book by its cover, however, because the Patriots’ comeback against the Falcons was one for the record books. Brady and Belichick Super Bowls never fail to be fantastic games.

Unfortunately the NHL’s Stanley Cup was pretty straightforward. But hey, Phil Kessel finally won a Stanley Cup! Check out part two of why 2016 is the greatest year in sports.

Connor Dolan
Connor is co-founder of First And Fan and head of all website operations. He's a die hard Boston sports fan with a passion for sports, media, and all things David Ortiz.

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