2016: the Michael Phelps of sports years

It feels pretty good to say that 2016 is behind us. Whenever a glimmer of light peeked through the dark clouds, it seemed that the year pulled the drapes shut, turned around and Draymond Green’d us right where it hurts the most.

We closed an election more divided than when we opened it. The grim reaper, that gosh darned grim reaper, worked overtime last year. In the sports world alone we lost Arnold Palmer, Muhammed Ali, Gordie Howe and Pat Summitt, among many, many others.

Amongst all the death, destruction, presidential tweet-storms and Kanye West ranting, though, was a very, very bright beam of light too powerful for any curtain to deflect.

The year 2016 was probably the best year of sports we’ve ever had.

Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl and rode off into the sunset as one of the best quarterbacks to throw wounded ducks across the gridiron. Kobe Bryant chucked his way to a 60-point night in the final game of his illustrious NBA career, and old man David Ross hit a home run in his final major league game, which just so happened to be Game 7 of the World Series.

Oh, yeah. The freaking Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

Black cats danced in the alleyways; Steve Bartman’s Walkman blasted “Go Cubs, Go;” a 108-year curse was broken when a smiling Kris Bryant flicked a grounder to Anthony Rizzo.

The Golden State Warriors finished with a 73-9 record — the best in NBA history — only to blow a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Lebron James blocked an Andre Igoudala layup into oblivion and brought a world championship back to his hometown two years after promising to do so.

Cam Newton peered aimlessly at a fumble before Von Miller and the dominating Broncos defense hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, giving Manning the sendoff he deserved.

We went to Rio, a corrupt, polluted, unfit site for the Summer Olympic Games, they told us.

Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps did what they’ve always done and dominated on both land and sea. Possibly the two greatest athletes of all time hung their ninth and 23rd gold medals, respectively, around their necks and bid us all a farewell.

Meanwhile, Simone Biles and her back-flipping brigade of Team USA gymnasts tumbled their way to world dominance. Biles earned four gold medals, including the team gold.

And Bolt, Phelps and Biles weren’t even the most dominant Americans at the games.

Katie Ledecky brought home four golds and a silver in the pool, and her record-setting 800-meter freestyle was an astounding 11 seconds faster than the silver medalist. Ledecky’s my Athlete of the Year.

March brought us all the madness we could have hoped for, capped off by a Marcus Paige buzzer beater that was topped by a Kris Jenkins buzzer beater. The best NCAA National Championship we’ve ever seen.

Rougned Odor threw punches; Ronda Rousey absorbed them.

Tiger Woods returned and left; Alabama football never left; and Leicester City beat 5000-to-1 odds to announce its arrival atop the English Premier League.

Oh, and the UConn women’s basketball team went a second consecutive calendar year without losing a basketball game. Nothing to see here.

There’s probably a dozen more print-worthy stories from the year 2016, but all this reminiscing has me sucked into the YouTube black hole, and I’m afraid I’ll never get out.

If this year gives us even half the sports high of last year, we’ll still be frolicking in flower headbands at Coachella.

Don’t blow this 3-1 lead, 2017.

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Mike Pruden

Mike moved to Sheridan from Indianapolis, Indiana. Family and his passion for sports brought Mike to the Cowboy State, where he began working as the sports editor for the Sheridan Press in June of 2014.

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Copyright © 2015 The Sheridan Press or Sheridan Newspapers, Inc.

Copyright © 2015 The Sheridan Press or Sheridan Newspapers, Inc..