Fantastic finishes make 2016-17 sports season best year ever

newmugWow! That’s all I can say after the wild overtime finish to Super Bowl LI. And while I hate to make any rash statements while I’m still in a state of bewilderment, I think it’s safe to say that the 2016-17 season was the greatest in major American sports history. And when I say “American sports,” I’m talking about the ones we rule – professional and college basketball, baseball and football. Let’s take a quick stroll down sports memory lane, and try to control yourself. It gets pretty crazy:

* It all began with a mad ending to March Madness (cover your ears, Tar Heel fans), when Villanova’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave the Wildcats a wild win over North Carolina. It was the most thrilling finish in an NCAA Final since the Cardiac Pack smacked down Phi Slamma Jamma (sorry for the double diss, Tar Heels).

* The 2016 NBA Finals were unforgettable, especially if you hail from Cleveland, the biggest cesspool city in the sports world. LeBron James came home to deliver the Cavs and long-suffering fans to the promised land, and then he led them back from a 3-1 deficit to end Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought. To put that in perspective, I’m 51, and I am old.

* You didn’t have to be a Coastal Carolina fan to root for them in the College World Series, but the fact that the Grand Strand had a home team in Omaha made their miracle run to the national title even more amazing. To see our Chants eliminating the likes of Florida, TCU and Arizona, and displaying a toughness that made everyone a CCU fan for a fortnight was unreal, and their refusal to lose was inspirational.

* If you thing Cleveland fans have had it rough, the Chicago Cubs’ band of Lovable Losers’ streak was twice as long before finally snapping their 108-year World Series skid in dramatic fashion. Down 3-1 and facing the final two games on the road, the Cubs ended the longest run of frustration in pro sports by beating, you guessed it, Cleveland. Sorry, one title per century.

* Many argued that the 2015 College Football Championship Game between Clemson and Alabama was the best ever. One year later, the two teams returned to top it. The Grand Strand had a big hand (actually, two of them) in the incredible finish Tigers receiver and Socastee product Hunter Renfrow hauled in the game-winning touchdown pass on the final play of the game. How about we play the rubber match next season.

* It didn’t seem possible for the big boys of the NFL to top the college kids for exciting finishes, especially with the New England Patriots trailing 28-3 in the third quarter. But Atlanta had its biggest meltdown since Sherman’s march, and Tom Brady and the never-say-die Pats did the impossible by pulling off the biggest comeback in the first overtime Super Bowl in history. To top it all off, NFL Commish Roger Goddell drew more boos than Lady Gaga at a Trump rally, another huge upset in 2016.

There may be bigger years if you expand your sports view beyond the Big Three. The Olympics, World Cup Soccer, NASCAR, golf, hockey and horse racing also deserve attention when you broaden your sports scope. But for die-hard fans of the traditional American sports, 2016-17 is one for the record books. Whatdaya say we do it again in 2017, if our hearts can handle it.

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