This past year in major professional sports championships consisted of historic comebacks, drought-ending miracles and closely contested games. The overall oddity of the 2016-2017 year in sports championships included the Cleveland Cavaliers ending the city’s 52-year title drought, the Chicago Cubs ending its 108-year baseball title drought and the New England Patriots completing the largest comeback in Super Bowl history.
The 2016-2017 oddity in championships began when the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the San Jose Sharks to earn the Stanley Cup. The win came during a season in which the Penguins’ coach was fired and the team had to be led largely by NHL superstar Sidney Crosby. The series went six games, two of which went into overtime.
The following week, the real sports craziness began. The NBA Championships took place as the Golden State Warriors seemed to be dominating the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors had completed the greatest regular season in NBA history with 73 wins and nine losses and had the league’s MVP, Stephen Curry. The Warriors were also up 3-1 in the series, a series lead that no NBA team had ever overcome in the championship.
Additionally, Cleveland was in the middle of a historical championship drought, as the whole city had not won a major pro sports championship in 52 years. A documentary ironically named “Believeland” had even been created earlier in the year, cataloguing Cleveland’s tortured sports history. NBA superstars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were able to lead their team back though in a wild game seven comeback.
Later in the year, the Chicago Cubs were facing off against Cleveland in the World Series. The city of Cleveland had just come off of its NBA championship but had not won a World Series in 68 years. Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs had not won a World Series in 108 years, a surprising drought when considering its perpetually strong fan base. The two teams each respectively held the two longest World Series droughts at the time. The series came down to an elimination game seven which went into extra innings. The Chicago Cubs ultimately ended the MLB’s longest championship drought ever with a dramatic performance in what many were calling one of the greatest World Series of all-time.
The New England Patriots capped off the string of championship title miracles. Their opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, were seeking its first Super Bowl championship, while the Patriots were looking to cement its legacy as potentially the greatest sports dynasty of all-time. The Super Bowl record book was shattered as the Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime with a 25-point comeback. The largest Super Bowl comeback had previously been 10 points, and the Super Bowl had also never before gone into overtime.
In addition, the NCAA basketball “March Madness” tournament ended with a buzzer-beater in the title game. Even college football was affected by the overall craziness of the sports year, as the perpetual college football favorite Alabama lost to the Clemson Tigers in a fourth quarter comeback. The UFC also had one of its fighters, Conor McGregor, capture two championship belts simultaneously, a feat that had never been done.
The year in American sports championships came with some of the most odd, miraculous and entertaining sports feats of all-time. For sports fans, one can only wonder if there will ever be another year quite like this one.