6. Kevin Durant signs with Golden State
If someone told you one year ago (December 30, 2015 at the time of publishing), that the franchise player of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kevin Durant, would be a member of the Warriors today, you would laugh. The Thunder had played the Warriors to a virtual dead heat in one of the most competitive conference finals of this era. Just 18 months earlier, KD had given the now famous MVP speech, which he acknowledged his teammates as brothers and family.
Times change, and Durant, who had won league rookie of the year, MVP, and four scoring titles, made a decision that shocked the basketball world. The July 4th announcement via ThePlayersTribune officially cemented Golden State as a perennial favorite to reach the Finals in the West, and so far this regular season KD is not disappointing.
5. Muhammad Ali passes away
There will never be another like Muhammad Ali. While the world mourned at Ali’s passing, a new generation was introduced to the impact he had inside and outside the ring. Ali suffered from Parkinson’s disease for nearly thirty years, and while his physical stature deteriorated in his later years, his spirit remained strong. Ali’s influence touched many across pro sports, including LeBron James. LeBron will be producing a documentary on the champ that will be released in early 2017. Ali was 74 years old at the time of his death.
4. Villanova wins the championship on buzzer beater
You could not have asked for a better way to close out March Madness then to have the national championship decided by a last second three. Kris Jenkins will forever be remembered for “the shot”. The Wildcats beat the tradition rich Tar Heels, and both programs look prime for a potential rematch in 2017.
3. Colin Kaepernick brings the conversation of equality to the front page.
Colin Kaepernick was best known before this season for incredible run to the Superbowl with former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh in 2013. Kaepernick’s choice to take a knee before the national anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice not only polarized the NFL, but the entire country. Given the fact that the protests began during a summer where a number of stories divided America, Kaepernick was greeted by a mixed bag of boos and cheers where ever he went this season.
Unfortunately the 49ers quarterback has had his worst season of his career on the field, and will likely be suiting up for another team in 2017. He has sold his home, and was almost decapitated by Kiko Alonso in Miami, but the 29 year old still has some value he could bring to the right situation.
The Cubs finally break the curse
The storybook ending to the greatest season in Chicago Cubs history ended in dramatic fashion. Chicago came back from a 3-1 World Series defecit to win the championship 4 games to 3. After 108 years, the city of Chicago and the country rallied behind this young core of players, all who never flinched under the pressure.
As for the Indians, a surprising run to the American League championship is tainted by the fact they were so close to claiming their first title in 68 seasons.
Cavaliers come back from 3-1 to beat Warriors
Game 7 of the NBA Finals was one of the most memorable in league history. Kyrie Irving outplayed Steph Curry thoughout the series, and delivered on one of the biggest shots of his career. LeBron Jame, who entered the 2015-16 season with pressure to avenge the NBA Finals defeat at the hands of the Warriors from the prior year, averaged 29.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 8.9 assists, and won the Finals MVP. The emotion shown by LeBron after it ended was timeless.