Barcelona’s comeback against Paris Saint Germain last week marked a historic occasion in soccer history, but it also continues the trend of incredible sporting events over the past calendar year. Here are some of the more remarkable ones.
The Chicago Cubs Win the World Series
This event might be seen as less miraculous given that the Cubs were heavy favorites over a plucky Indians team, which was ravaged by injuries; however, historical context must be taken into account. The Cubs’ championship-winning run ended a record 71 year national pennant drought and a 108 year World Series drought. Put into perspective, in the time between the Cubs’ last two championships, both radio and television were invented, the United States added five more states, and the NBA, NHL and NFL were formed. Fortunately, the enormity of the run was not lost on fans, with the championship parade estimated to have drawn five million people.
Cleveland Wins the NBA Finals
With his chasedown block on Andre Iguodala with two minutes to play in game seven, Lebron James finally completed his masterpiece.
After being the object of unanticipated levels of media scrutiny for much of his career, James cemented himself as an NBA great in last year’s finals. Leading both finals teams in all five statistical categories — the first in history to do so — James led the Cavaliers to storm back from a 3-1 deficit and sully the Warriors’ historic 73 win season. James may have won his first rings in Miami, but delivering a championship to a city which had previously endured a 50 year drought in professional sports, and in the manner that he did, will undoubtedly serve as his magnum opus.
Leicester Win the Premier League Title
Leicester went into April with just four wins in the league, slumped at the bottom of the table with no apparent escape route. Then came the rise, as the team won six out of its next seven, and escaped relegation in one of the most remarkable endings to a league season. A managerial change over the summer did not halt its momentum either: the Foxes came out at the start of the 2015-16 season flying with a 4-2 win over Sunderland. Somehow, the extraordinary run continued, with players like Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy becoming household names. As the season winded down, Leicester was the final team standing, and it secured its incredible run when Tottenham traveled to Stamford Bridge only to muster a draw against the then-defending champions Chelsea.
The Patriots Win Superbowl 51
No one was surprised at the outcome of the Super Bowl: a fifth title for Tom Brady and the Patriots. What was surprising was the manner the team got there. After trailing 28-3 with just over two minutes left in the third quarter, the Pats went on an incredible run to complete to greatest Super Bowl comeback of all time. Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for a record fourth time, setting single-game Super Bowl records for completions, attempts and passing yards, while running back James White set a record for passes caught and points scored. The Belichick-era Patriots were already legendary in football history, but the game lifted them into the pantheon of all time sporting greats, and perhaps cements Tom Brady’s legacy as the greatest player of all time.
It is difficult to imagine anything topping what has happened over the past year. We may never see a Leicester-esque fairytale run or the ending of a century-old championship drought in our lifetimes ever again. However, we are reminded of what sports are all about: the possibility of the impossible happening. The unpredictability of sport is why we keep coming back to it, and from the impending NBA playoffs to Champions League beginning to heat up, we should remember the power of sports to shock, stun and amaze.