Athletics mixed with social justice heavily this year.
CRISTIANO RONALDO & REAL MADRID WIN BACK TO BACK UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
Back in June at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales Real Madrid defeated Juventes 4-1. It was Real’s 12th Champions League title and the first ever team to go back to back in the Champions League era.
Real’s do it all striker and the world’s best player, yes, I said it, was the Man of the Match. Ronaldo scored twice and narrowly missed a third. All season he stepped up in the big moments for the best club in the world.
UCONN WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM WINS 111 GAMES IN A ROW
I know what you’re thinking. No. I don’t mean UCONN’s streak getting snapped at 111, I mean them winning 111. Think about that for a minute. The program hadn’t lost a game since November 17, 2014. Do you understand what kind of pressure that is? You don’t want to be the team that blows it. Yes, last season’s team ultimately did blow it. But they kept a run going.
This is the winningest program in women’s college hoops. When you arrive at the campus in Storrs as a freshman, you are expected at a minimum to win at least one title (and that’s a down career). Maintaining that level of excellence is impressive. The 111th win was against Oregon in the 2017 Elite Eight.
JOEL EMBIID’S CAREER HIGH AGAINST THE LAKERS
The Philadelphia 76ers big man started the season healthy for the first time in his young career. He is playing well this season, and teamed with rookie Ben Simmons they form one of the more promising young duos. 76ers fans for the first time in a long time have hope.
In a mid November game against the Los Angeles Lakers Embiid’s full game was on display. 46 pts, 17 rbs, 7 ast, 7 blk. It was a tremendous performance. If he can stay healthy, this is the future of the league.
UNC MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM RETURNS TO FINAL FOUR AND WINS CHAMPIONSHIP
Teams that suffer defeats like the Tar Heels did back in the 2016 NCAA championship game don’t often come back the following year. That buzzer beater by Villanova’s Kris Jenkins left the Heels devastated but also fortified their resolve.
Roy Williams and his team of mostly upperclassman came back rejuvenated and were clinical in dismantling the competition on their way to winning the title.
MAYWEATHER VS MCGREGOR
The fight itself was entertaining, mainly because Mayweather allowed it to be. He toyed with McGregor and let the fight go 10 rounds before winning by TKO.
But the buildup is what was so interesting. This brought out more of the ugliness this country was built on and both fighters played into it. Fans and some members of the media played into it. In the end it was profitable for the principal players.
KEVIN DURANT’S 2017 NBA FINALS PERFORMANCE
Really, the entire 2017 NBA Finals was KD’s show. He was the best player on the floor from start to finish. The numbers: 35.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 5.4 apg, 1.6 bpg. 55.6% FG, 47.4% 3P, 92.7% FT. His true shooting percentage in the Finals was 69.8% and his effective field goal percentage was 63.9%. He was devastating on the way to earning 2017 NBA Finals MVP.
But everyone will remember the go ahead shot in game 3 over LeBron James and it was incredible. He grabbed the defensive rebound and in under four seconds he dribbled into the Cavs backcourt, saw Bron back on his heel and rose up from the left side of the arc and buried the go ahead three pointer. That was a symbolic torch passing of sorts. Bron may still lay claim to being the best player in the world but so too can KD.
THE ATLANTA FALCONS ALMOST WON THE SUPER BOWL
We’ve all seen the 28-3 memes that have flooded the interwebs. The Falcons were oh so close to toppling a dynasty. For three quarters they battered golden boy Tom Brady and piled up 28 points on a Belichick defense.
Then the 4th quarter happened…But hey Falcons fans at least you had the first three quarters.
DESHAUN WATSON BEATS ALABAMA AND IS UNLEASHED ON THE NFL
2017 didn’t end the way the Houston Texans rookie quarterback wanted, but it sure started well. He quarterbacked Clemson to a national title in a win over the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide. He threw for 420 yards and accounted for 4 TDs.
He was then picked #12 in the first round of the NFL Draft and was unleashed on the NFL. Games against the Chiefs and Seahawks come to mind. 9 TD’s and 663 passing yards combined in those two games. Watson was well on his way to earning rookie of the year before tearing is ACL in practice back in November.
SERENA WILLIAMS WINS 2017 AUSTRALIAN OPEN WHILE PREGNANT
Arguably the greatest athlete of all-time. Yes, I said it. Not female athlete. Athlete period. Williams is incredible, a 23 time Grand Slam singles champion, 4 time Olympic gold medalist. Her list of accomplishments and awards go on for days.
This past January she won her seventh Australian Open at the age of 35 while eight weeks pregnant. WTF?! 35 and with child! She didn’t drop a single set to her competition on route to the title.
There was no on field moment for Kap as the NFL and its owners are blackballing him. However he has remained in the public consciousness by bringing issues of racial injustice, police brutality, and the systemic and systematic treatment of poor black and brown peoples to the doorstep of the NFL.
His protest of these issues and choosing to do it during the national anthem was brilliant and lighted a fire. The reactions from fans, ownership, and the league showed exactly where majorities of people in this country stand on these issues.
He may never play another down in the NFL again but the most important part if his life is just beginning.