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A Year of Championships

In the past year, sports fans were given the opportunity to witness some of the all-time greatest games and series to ever be played. Aside from the fact that we’ve seen great athletes retire including Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning, David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, and Tim Duncan; Championships were the highlight in the past year. UNC-Villanova, UNC-Gonzaga, the World Series, Alabama-Clemson, Super Bowl 51, and the NBA Finals just to name a few championships we’ve been blessed with this year.

Looking back at the 2016-2017 season for sports, you can’t take for granted of how special it was to experience all these championships.

From the 73-9 Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead to give the city of Cleveland a championship, to the Cubs first World Series win in 108 years, to Brady’s unrealistic 25 point comeback… we rank these six games/series in order of how special and memorable each one was:

7 – Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – 2017 NBA Finals

The trilogy of the Warriors-Cavs Finals featured a new face with the Warriors in Kevin Durant. After blowing their own 3-1 deficit to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals as a member of the Thunder the year before, Durant took after the old saying “if you can’t beat them, join them” and that’s exactly what happened.

In Game 3 of the Finals, it was a back and forth sequence all game, as the first 2 games were Golden State blowout victories, Durant pulled up from behind the arc to give the warriors the lead and seal the victory to go up 3-0 in the series.

The Warriors would return back to Oracle Arena in Game 5 to defeat the Cavaliers and capture their 2nd title in 3 seasons.

Durant was named Finals MVP after a stay line of 35.2 / 8.2 / 5.4. Not to also mention he won his first ring.

6 – North Carolina vs. Gonzaga – 2017 NCAA Basketball Championship

This might be the only game on this list that I wouldn’t consider one of the greatest games of all time, but still added to the great championship games in the past year we got to watch and was special nonetheless.

This matchup featured two totally different opponents. One team went to the championship the year before and was looking for revenge – the other team has never played in the NCAA championship game before, which is why this matchup was so special. Gonzaga had their best season in program history, going 37-1 leading up to this game and making their first ever Final Four appearance. UNC was looking for their sixth NCAA title.

To make this matchup even better, the Tar Heels were the top offensive rebounding team in Division I, and they faced the top defensive rebounding team in Gonzaga.

The game was even the entire way through. With a minute remaining and score 66-65 when Isaiah Hicks drained a bank shot to put the Tar Heels up by 3. After a block by Kennedy Meeks on a wild shot by Nigel Williams-Goss, the ball was passed ahead to Justin Jackson for an easy dunk clinching the victory for UNC, breaking the hearts of the Bulldogs and getting back their redemption.

5 – Alabama vs. Clemson – 2017 NCAA Football Championship

In a rematch of the 2016 championship game, Clemson looked to get back at Alabama after they handed the Tigers a heartbreaking 45-40 loss. Alabama’s Kenyan Drake returned a punt 95 yards for a touchdown against Clemson cementing the Crimson Tide’s 16th national title and their fourth in seven seasons.

But that was last year…

This game was back-and-forth the entire time. Deshaun Watson found Mike Williams for a 4-yard touchdown a minute into the fourth quarter to make it 24-21 Alabama.

Clemson then took their first lead, 28-24, with 4:38 left in the fourth quarter when Wayne Gallman ran it into the end zone.

Wide receiver ArDarius Stewart got a backwards pass from Jalen Hurts and threw to O.J. Howard for 24 yards. On the very next play, Hurts broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run to make it 31-28 with 2:07 left.

Watson passed to Williams and Jordan Leggett, who made great catches for huge gains to get to first-and-goal with 14 seconds left.

A pass interference on Alabama made it first-and-goal at the 2 yard line with six seconds left.

Hunter Renfrow got away from the defense and was alone for an easy toss on the goal line to put Clemson up 35-31 with 1 second left as that would do it…

A 35-year title drought for Clemson was over. The Tigers are national champions for the first time since 1981 and got back at Bama’.

4 – North Carolina vs. Villanova – 2016 NCAA Basketball Championship

Going into this game, North Carolina was a powerhouse and Villanova hadn’t won a championship since 1985.

This game will forever be known for Kris Jenkins’ buzzer beater three pointer to win the game for Villanova the exact play after North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit a miraculous double-clutch game tying three way beyond the arc.

This was one of the craziest endings in NCAA tournament history. It was almost as one good shot just deserved another and it all happened so sudden, within five seconds of one another.

Even Michael Jordan had to say “Good shot, good shot.”

3 – Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – 2016 NBA Finals

The Warriors won an NBA record 73 games this season and Stephen Curry exploded for 402 total three pointers, so how could Golden State ever lose?

Especially when they got out to a 3-1 commanding lead, things looked very vague for Cleveland, who lost in the finals to the Warriors the year before.

That’s when a fire got lit under LeBron James’ behind. King James lead the Cavs and stormed back down 3-1 to win the series and beat the best regular season team in the history of the NBA.

Of course, don’t forget Kyrie Irving was the man who hit the clutch three for Cleveland in game 7.

But the finals MVP averaged 29.7 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 8.9 APG and brought the city of Cleveland its first championship since 1964 when the Browns won the NFL championship.

2 – New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons – Super Bowl 51

It’s only perfect that the best quarterback of all time overcame the largest deficit in Super Bowl history to complete the greatest comeback of all time and win his fifth Super Bowl ring, the most by a quarterback of all time.

The Atlanta Falcons haven’t ever won a Super Bowl, in fact it was their first appearance since 1999 when they lost to the Denver Broncos.

On the other hand, Brady and Belichick were looking for their second title in three seasons.

It was all Atlanta the first half and up 28-3 with 8:17 left in the third, it looked as if Brady was going to lose to someone other than Eli Manning in the Super Bowl.

Tom Brady hit James White on a 5 yard pass for a touchdown but Gostkowski would miss the extra point.

After a field goal to make it 28-12 with 9:44 to go, the Falcons would get back the ball only to turn it over after Matt Ryan took a hit and the ball was let loose.

Brady capitalized driving down the field and hitting up Amendola for the touchdown and covering the 2-point. All of sudden it was a game…

Brady was handed back the ball with 3:15 left. Brady hauled a pass in the middle of the field that tipped off of Robert Alford’s hands that would’ve been a game ending interception, but instead somehow fell into the hands of his long time teammate, Julian Edelman. One of the greatest Super Bowl catches ever.

James White ran the ball in on the 1 yard line and Amendola hauled in the 2-point conversion.

That meant overtime…

Well, it didn’t take long. New England won the toss and Brady did his thing. He drove all the way downfield, James White ran it in and New England completed the greatest comeback of all time.

1 – Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians – 2016 World Series

Tom Brady’s and LeBron James’ incredible comebacks still couldn’t top this in my opinion.

Let me just notify you that this matchup was the most exciting in the World Series since the Subway Series in 2000.

The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and the Indians since 1948, the two longest droughts in the MLB. Like I mentioned earlier, Cleveland didn’t witness a championship since 1964 before the Cavaliers gifted the city.

So with all the pressure building up for both teams to win it for their fans, it was poised to be a great series.

The Indians took complete control of Chicago and went up 3-1 in the series in the first 4 games.

But the Cubs refused to have the same failures as past Cubs teams who made the postseason and took games 5 and 6 of the series which set the stage for game 7.

The atmosphere was intense from the first pitch. Dexter Fowler hit a lead off home run to get the Cubs off and running early.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Cubs were up 6-4 and a run already home in the inning with two outs, Rajai Davis just got enough over the left field wall in the corner to rip a game tying home run.

The game would eventually go to extra innings but a  rain delay put this classic on hold for 17 minutes.

When the game resumed in the top of the 10th, Ben Zobrist hit an RBI double to put the Cubs up 7-6. Miguel Montero would add an RBI single of his own to pad the lead 8-6.

The Indians wouldn’t go down quietly in the bottom of the frame… One out away from elimination, the man of the hour, Davis, hit an RBI single to pull Cleveland closer 8-7.

Michael Martinez would ground out to Kris Bryant who had a big smile on his face completing the final out of the game and the Cubs won their first title since 1908 as the Billy goat curse was finally put at rest.

About Robbie Callaghan

Yankees, Knicks, NY Giants, NY Rangers.

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