From the Black Mamba’s 60 points in his final game to the Olympics to both the Cavs and the Cubs overcoming 3-1 deficits to win the NBA Finals and World Series respectively, here’s a look back at best sports moments of 2016:
10. Reaction after Brazilian gymnasts win silver and bronze in men’s floor:
Entering the 2016 Rio Olympics, Brazil only had one Olympic medal: a gold in the rings apparatus when Arthur Zanetti won in 2012. When this year’s games concluded, the host nation added three more medals to their gymnastics tally. Although British gymnast Max Whitlock won the gold in the floor exercise, the crowd roared with excitement when Brazilians Diego Hypólito and Arthur Mariano won the silver and bronze medals respectively. Both gymnasts were crying tears of joy as the final scores confirmed they would medal in the event (to see their reaction, skip to the 28th minute of the video). The crowd roared with excitement as if both won the gold medal. Hypólito and Mariano hugged each other and draped themselves in the Brazilian flag, a moment that displayed the spirit and tradition the Olympics provide. The other medal the host nation won in gymnastics was a silver on the rings for Zanetti.
9. USA’s dominance in gymnastics at the Olympics:
The “Final Five,” the U.S. Women’s Artistic Gymnastics team, made history in the Rio Games with their flawless routines by winning the team competition by over ten points (video above of the team receiving their gold medals for the team competition). They also won eight additional medals in the individual events: three golds, four silvers, and one bronze. Gabby Douglas, the 2012 Olympic All-Around Champion, made history by becoming the first reigning Olympic All-Around Champion to compete in another Olympics since the 1976 winner, Nadia Comăneci, returned in 1980. In addition, Douglas and Aly Raisman, members of “The Fierce Five” who won the team gold in 2012, became the first American gymnasts to win two team gold medals. Also, they are the first American female gymnasts to make another Olympics since Amy Chow and Dominique Dawes made their second and third Olympic teams respectively in 2000.
8. Olympics: Two girls help each other after falling in race:
The spirit and unity that the Olympics provides was displayed during one of the qualifying heats in women’s 5,000 meter track and field race when American runner Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin collided and fell during the race. Instead of getting up and continuing, D’Agostino, who was the first to get up, helped Hamblin up and encouraged her that they needed to finish the race. This moment was heavily praised by various media outlets around the world as both women sacrificed the possibility of making the finals of the event to help each other and finish the race, especially D’Agostino,who finished in tremendous pain and had to be taken off the track in a wheelchair. Although both ended up not making the final, referees allowed both to advance but D’Agostino couldn’t compete due to tearing her ACL and meniscus during the collision. D’Agostino and Hamblin would win the Rio 2016 Fair Play Award for their selflessness and sportsmanship.
7. USA’s dominance in swimming at the Olympics:
The dominance of the U.S. swimming team for the Rio Olympics would overshadow both things as the team won a total of 33 medals, the second most amount since they won 34 in the 1996 Atlanta Games. Of the 33, 16 were gold, almost half of the amount of gold medals presented in the swimming competitions. Legendary swimmer Michael Phelps extended his record as the most decorated Olympian with six medals (five golds and one silver), bringing his overall total of Olympic medals to 28. Also, the 400 meter medley relay team of Kathleen Baker, Lilly King, Dana Vollmer and Simone Manuel won Team USA’s 1000th gold medal (video above) at the Summer Olympics (in all sports).
6. Broncos defense demolish Panthers offense to win Super Bowl 50:
Super Bowl 50 featured was the battle of the 2015 NFL season’s best ranked offense (Carolina Panthers) against the best ranked defense (Denver Broncos). The Broncos won, 24-10, as their defense tore apart the Panther’s offense, recording seven sacks and forcing three turnovers. Broncos linebacker Von Miller, who finished the game with six tackles, two and a half sacks, two quarterback hurries, and forced two fumbles from Newton, won the Super Bowl MVP Award. Legendary quarterback Peyton Manning won his second Super Bowl and the game would be his last as he announced his retirement a month later. There’s no better way than to finish your career on top!
5. Portugal wins their first UEFA title:
Portugal, lead by Real Madrid star and team captain Cristiano Ronaldo, made their second UEFA European Championship final in the 2016 edition of the tournament and faced the host nation, France. The 2004 tournament was Portugal’s only other final appearance, which they lost on home soil. Their chances of winning seemed slim after Ronaldo was substituted out of the match in the 25th minute after injuring his knee from a hard tackle by French midfielder Dimitri Payet. The match went into extra time despite great scoring opportunities made by both teams. In the 109th minute, substitute Portuguese striker Éder scored the game’s only goal by holding off a French defender and cutting into the inside, striking the ball low to the French goalkeeper’s right.The best part came when the final whistle blew as the Portuguese team celebrated their first international title while the Stade de France was stunned in disbelief. Ronaldo was crying tears of joy, not of sadness as he lead Portugal to their first major trophy and got to lift the trophy.
4. Kris Jenkins’s buzzer beater to win Villanova’s second NCAA title:
In what was dubbed as the most competitive March Madness ever, the championship game between North Carolina and Villanova ended in one of the best ways a great tournament could possibly end: with the game tied at 74-74 with less than two seconds remaining, Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono received an inbounds pass and passed to Kris Jenkins who scored the buzzer-beating three pointer to give the Villanova Wildcats a 77-74 win and their second ever NCAA Tournament title, their first one being 31 years ago. Many people have call both the shot and championship game amongst some of the best ever. Villanova Coach Jay Wright’s reaction after Jenkins’s shot went in was extremely funny yet serious as he looked as if he was watching paint dry on a wall as the arena went nuts.
3. Kobe Bryant scoring 60 points in his final NBA game:
The Laker legend, who spent his entire NBA career in purple and gold, played his final career game on April 13 against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Although both teams failed to make the playoffs, the atmosphere of the game was like an NBA Finals. Before the game, Bryant was honored with a speech by Magic Johnson and a video tribute that featured current NBA players and coaches as well as former teammates and coaches. Although the Black Mamba lead his team to a comeback, 101-96, victory over the Jazz, the most thrilling part was him scoring 60 points! He outscored all the Jazz players 23-21 and made 15 of the Lakers’ final 17 points all in the fourth quarter. Bryant checked out of the game with 4.1 seconds remaining to an enormous standing ovation and the game ended, Bryant was greeted with hugs from former and current teammates before making a post-game speech. Kobe’s 60 points broke the record for most points scored by any player during the 2015-2016 NBA season and the most points scored by a player in his final career game.
2. Chicago Cubs break the “Curse” and win First World Series in 108 Years:
In the trend of overcoming a 3-1 deficit to win a sports championship, the Chicago Cubs were able to come back to win the World Series over the Cleveland Indians, breaking the Curse of the Billy Goat. Their World Series title was their first in 108 years and they were the first MLB team to bounce back from this deficit in a World Series since the 1985 Kansas City Royals. The Cubs won Game Seven, 8-7, in extra innings and when the tenth inning was over, the Cubs players ran into the middle of the infield to celebrate. Cubs fans in the stadium, Chicago, and across the country erupted in massive celebrations, one the most memorable ones being actor and longtime Cubs fan Bill Murray, who attended the game, crying as the game ended and even went to the team’s celebrations in the locker room.
1. Cavs make history and win first NBA Title:
After losing a year ago to the Golden State Warriors, the Cleveland Cavaliers once again faced the Warriors in a rematch of NBA Finals. Entering Game Five, the Warriors led the series, 3-1, but the Cavaliers, led by Lebron James, won the game 112-97 and also Game Six 115-101 due to James scoring 41 points in both games. Game Seven was a close, with 20 lead changes and at halftime, the Warriors lead, 49-42. With one minute and 50 seconds left in fourth quarter and the score tied at 89, James delivered “The Block” by blocking reigning NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala’s layup attempt. Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving later made a 3-pointer and James made a free throw to secure a 93-89 victory, winning the team’s first NBA title and ending the city of Cleveland’s 52 year professional sports championship drought. As time expired, James collapsed on the court full of emotions after winning the title for his hometown with the rest of his team surrounding him celebrating. The Cavaliers became the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win the Finals. James won the 2016 NBA Finals MVP award after leading all players in all statistical categories throughout the entire series.