I’ll start this by saying these are mostly big picture moments and not really plays per se, because there could have been 100 of the best plays to pick from. So read on to relive the best sports moments of 2016.
1. Kris Jenkins Buzzer Beater
I mean, is there really ANY better way to win a championship than a buzzer beater, following a crazy shot that was nearly a buzzer beater itself? Villanova won its first championship in 30+ years and it was a game for the ages.
Watch it here
2. LeBron and Kyrie Finish the Finals
As a Bulls fan I found the NBA Finals very confusing. On one hand there’s a division rival and individual player that has given the Bulls postseason trouble and on the other there’s the team that wants the title of greatest team ever. I couldn’t really root for either but watching the Warriors become the first team to blow a 3-1 Finals lead was very satisfying. Kudos to the Cavs on ending Cleveland’s championship drought.
3. Kris Bryant ends the Cubs World Series Drought
I won’t lie, part of me wanted to see someone hit a walk-off for the Indians because the Cubs were most likely going to be back in the World Series regardless of this outcome within the next few years. There hasn’t been a walk-off *home run* to clinch a title since 1993 and this was the best chance for it. Still, the Cubs finally got their title so cheers to them.
4. Simone Biles Dominates
Straight up dominance from the first time Olympian that continued the U.S. women’s gymnastics success. Her back story is pretty cool, too.
5. Auston Matthews Scores 4 Goals in NHL Debut
Maybe the best rookie NHL performance ever? The first overall pick quickly proved his worth in the first game of the season for the Maple Leafs as he was the first rookie to score four debut goals in the modern era. He currently sits behind the #2 pick for overall goals and is tied for points this year.
Watch them here
6. Leicester City Wins the Premier League
In 2014-15 they finished 14th overall and began the 2015-16 season at 5000-1 odds to win the title. It’s one of the greatest and most unlikely Cinderella teams to go all the way. They currently sit at 16th in the league and likely will not be back on top any time soon.
7. Katie Ledecky Destroys Competition
I remember the announcers saying “it’s a foregone conclusion that she will win this race” and “it’s not whether or not she will win, but it’s how much will she win by” because she was simply that much better than her competition. After watching her compete it’s easy to imagine she could potentially become the most decorated American female Olympian or female Olympian in general.
8. Middle Tennessee State Upsets Michigan State in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament
One day there will be a 16 seed take down a number 1 seed. That didn’t happen in 2016, but when Michigan State was bounced in the first round it felt pretty close, and it also busted my bracket.
9. UConn Women’s Basketball Win Streak
The streak sits at 87 as of the end of 2016 and is the second longest NCAA basketball streak ever behind the UConn women at 90 from a few years ago. Even if you aren’t a fan you have to admire the consistency in the program for the last decade or so.
10. Northern Iowa Upsets Texas
UNI ended up on the wrong side of history in the following game, but this was still a great way to cement an opening round upset. #RespectTheValley
Watch it here
11. Central Michigan Hail Mary and Lateral Over Oklahoma State
Should it have happened? Probably not, but there are several infamous plays that changed seasons (Seattle/Green Bay fail Mary) and had the play not been counted Oklahoma State might have been playing for a spot in the College Football Playoff. The great thing about sports are the “what if” situations.
Watch it here
12. Kobe Bryant’s Final Game
I’m not a huge Kobe Bryant fan but that is a pretty great way to end an 18 year career. I also get a little bit of joy knowing people weren’t watching the Warriors break the single season record.
13. Peyton Manning Goes Out a Champ
The “dad” of the NFL, Peyton has a likable personality and retired with the best possible result. One of the best to ever play the game, I was happy to see him finish on top after a pretty sub-par season by his standards.
14. White Sox Turn 3 Triple Plays
If you like quirky historical sports statistics this is great for you. The White Sox turned three triple plays and acted as the highlight to an overwhelmingly disappointing season. There were actually two teams that turned three triple plays the last season it happened in 1979.
15. Damian Lillard Sends the Trail Blazers to the Next Round
I’m a big fan of Damian Lillard. He came from a small school, has been a fan favorite in Portland and stayed loyal to his team. He helped the Blazers win their first playoff series in 14 years on a buzzer beater against Houston.
Relive it here
16. Rajai Davis’ Game Tying HR in the Bottom of the 8th in Game 7
It made Rajai Davis a near hero in Cleveland off one of the best closing pitchers in the game (even while on short rest) and made the game that much more epic. The anticipation and anxiety was through the roof.
Honorable mention to Jake Arrieta for the no-hitter but there have been quite a few recently and he already made the list with the Cubs WS win.
Comment below if you think there was a moment or play that should be on the list