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Ending droughts, defying odds and breaking records

The five greatest sporting storylines of 2016

KEVIN WANG, BUSINESS MANAGER

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2016 is defined by the miraculous upsets, odds-defying underdogs, broken records and ending of decades-long championship droughts in the sports world. Below are the top five greatest sporting storylines of 2016.

 

1) Cubs win World Series

Robert Zemeckis, director of Back to the Future, may have been a visionary as Marty McFly’s prediction came true, although he was a year late. The Cubs were expected to perform well, but never to break their 108 year championship curse. The 2016 World Series actually pitted two traditional underdogs against each other. The Cleveland Indians themselves won their last World Series in 1948. The series was highly entertaining as the Cubs came back from a 3-1 deficit to clinch the best-of-seven series. Game 7 itself was highly compelling. With the score tied after nine innings, heavy rain approached and caused a 17-minute rain delay. In the extra inning, the Cubs scored two more runs to win the series and make what once was a dream into reality.

2) Leicester City wins Premier League. Wait….What?

Perhaps the most unknown upset of 2016, unless you’re a soccer aficionado, was Leicester City winning the Premier League. The Leicester Foxes were promoted to the Premier League just last year and spent 140 days in last place. Contrary to many other sports leagues, the Premier League is designed to make sure underdogs do not prevail as champions. The same four teams have won 22 of the last 24 championships. The odds were so unfavorable that they had a 5000-to-1 shot to win the title. According to NBC Sports, these odds were ten times less likely than Simon Cowell becoming the next prime minister. Despite changing team managers mid-way through the season, the team conquered these odds and did the unprecedented.

3) 3-1 Deficit? No Problem for the Cavs

After losing in the 2015 NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, mainly due to injury of star players Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, the 2015-2016 season was a “championship or bust” season for the Cavs. Lebron James was held accountable to bring the hardware home to “The Land,” a promise he declared when he decided to return to his hometown of Cleveland. The Cavaliers breezed through the regular season and the playoffs until they met the Golden State Warriors in the Finals. After being up three games to one, the Warriors only needed one win to repeat as NBA champions. Yet, the Cavs, helped by Irving’s clutch three pointer and James’ critical block, did the unthinkable and won four consecutive games to win the championship. After what most considered to be the most thrilling NBA Finals ever, Lebron James made good on his promise and brought the first championship to Cleveland in 54 years.

4) Villanova continues upset tradition with buzzer beater win

March Madness is widely considered to be the most unpredictable tournament in the sports world. The 2016 March Madness tournament was no exception. Most people know Villanova for its 1985 miracle season that resulted in its first national championship. The 2016 team, led by Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart, was on pace to repeat this feat after edging top seeded Kansas in the Elite Eight and defeating Oklahoma in the Final Four. In the national championship game, the team faced powerhouse North Carolina. The game was a nail-biter  and Tar Heels star Marcus Paige hit a seemingly impossible three-pointer to tie the game with 4.7 seconds left on the clock. Everyone thought the game was over when Villanova did the impossible. Villanova regrouped and Jenkins hit a buzzer beater three pointer to win the game which would have made the 1985 team proud.

5) Same Old, Same Old: Gold

While Michael Phelps may be the farthest thing from being an underdog, his record-breaking feats captivated the world once again at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Michael Phelps is a veteran when it comes to breaking records. Phelps won a record 8 gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics. At the time of his first retirement in 2012, Phelps was the most decorated Olympian of all time with 18 gold medals and 22 overall medals. However, when he made his comeback, there were some doubters who believed Phelps would not perform at his usual level because of stiffer competition and being at the “advanced” age of 31. He won five gold medals and one silver medal as he distanced himself from the second most decorated Olympian by 14 gold medals and 10 overall medals. Phelps proved to the world once more to never count out the heart of a champion.

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Ending droughts, defying odds and breaking records