The calendar year of 2016 was packed with some of the most memorable sports stories since the turn of the century. From improbable victories to last second shots, each sport had something incredible to share with the rest of the world.
We’ve combed the 2016 sporting archives and selected what we believe are that year’s top five sports moments. Let’s revisit these epic narratives in order to truly appreciate their significance.
At 5,000 to 1 odds, Leicester City FC shook the soccer nation by winning the Premier League, the world’s top tiered domestic soccer league. The fairy tale story marked one of the biggest upsets in history as the team climbed the ranks after spending a majority of the season in the cellar.
On the brink of being regulated the previous year, Leicester won its first top-division league in the club’s 132-year history. British writer Jay Maysh said Leicester’s achievement was “like the Cleveland Browns winning the Super Bowl — unthinkable, and seemingly impossible.”
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the National Anthem to protest police brutality and the unjust treatment of the African-American community was both divisive and unifying.
During a press conference following his protest, Kaepernick stood by his decision, saying “When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
His actions sparked a massive increase in professional athletes speaking out for social issues as well as disdain from others who felt his kneeling was extremely disrespectful to the American flag and the country.
A year after returning to Cleveland following a four-year stint in Miami, LeBron James delivered on his promise to bring the Cavaliers franchise its first ever NBA Finals Championship.
After falling behind 3-1 to the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the best-of-seven series, James put the Cavaliers on his back and won three straight games, handing the city of Cleveland its first major sports championship since 1964.
No team in NBA Finals history had ever crawled back from a 3-1 series deficit to capture the championship trophy. To top things off, “King” James was named the 2016 NBA Finals MVP.
With the NCAA championship title on the line and less than five seconds remaining on the game clock, Villanova point guard Ryan Arcidiacono received the inbounds pass from Kris Jenkins with the score knotted at 74.
After crossing half court, Arcidiacono pitched the ball back to the trailing Jenkins, who spotted up for three well behind the arch, releasing the ball with about half a second left.
The ball floated through the air as the buzzer sounded. Bucket. Let the celebration begin! The Wildcats had defeated the North Carolina Tarheels 77-74.
It had been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs were immortalized as World Series champions, winning their last title in 1908. Trailing the series 3-1, the Cubs clawed their way back and defeated the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in 10 innings to capture the title.
Game 7 of the 2016 World Series lasted nearly five hours and featured wacky plays, a blown four-run lead, a 17-minute rain delay, and extra innings heroics.
After it was all said and done, the Chicago Cubs World Series drought was over. They were champions once again.