The 5: Ranking the best championships of the last 365 days
Sports fans have had it good over the past year.
When it came down to national championship games across most every major sport, there was drama in both a historical sense and, in a vacuum, excitement at the end of the games themselves. Need a refresher?
2016-17 will forever be known as one of the greatest years in sports pic.twitter.com/impL77v1lY
— Kent (@RealKentMurphy) February 8, 2017
But where do these fine finishes fall when compared to one another?
After internal argument, here’s one opinion (Apparently, I enjoy seven-game series more than football. *DUCKS*).
5. NCAA basketball: Villanova vs. North Carolina
There’s something to be said for a game with two wild swings coming so close to one another. Just as it seemed Villanova’s three-point lead would hold up with the clock ticking down, North Carolina’s Marcus Paige loaded up for a three-point attempt he probably shouldn’t have. It was contested, but his double-clutch shot with 4.7 seconds left breathed life into the Tar Heels only for the Wildcats to use those seconds to push the ball up the court for Kris Jenkins to nail a game-winning three.
What keeps this from taking the top spot? Well, if Jenkins had missed that shot, Villanova still could’ve won in overtime. Plus, the broader storylines for two schools defined by little else than being very good at basketball was relatively underwhelming.
4. Super Bowl LI: Patriots vs. Falcons
Spoilers: Not a huge fan of NFL overtime rules here. How had a Super Bowl game never reached overtime before? I’m not counting that fact with much weight in this exercise because it only tells me a lot of Super Bowls are duds in entertainment value. And argue for the NFL overtime rules or not, but it’s anti-climactic when a touchdown on the first possession of OT — without the stress of a winding clock — doesn’t give a team a shot at answering on offense.
Still, the Patriots’ 25-point comeback, the biggest ever in a Super Bowl, was something. Throw in the whole Deflategate/Roger Goodell storyline and Julian Edelman’s ridiculous catch, and it’s up there.
3. College Football Playoff: Clemson vs. Alabama
If only this final play didn’t borderline on illegal. The Clemson Tigers used every second of their title game rematch against Alabama to win the College Football Playoff. A quick-hit pattern by receiver Hunter Renfrow looked easy after his Clemson teammate went all bulldozer on Renfrow’s defender.
You gotta do what you gotta do against Saban’s empire. What would’ve been a ho-hum result had ‘Bama won quickly turned into a power shift of college football elites. And with a final play determining the fate, it’s hard to find better.
2. NBA Finals: Cavaliers vs. Warriors
Don’t let these rankings distract you from the fact that the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead. From big picture storylines to single plays, the NBA Finals had it all.
A quick list:
- It was a rematch from a year prior.
- LeBron James gets ‘The Land’ a win.
- LeBron does so with his patented chasedown block.
- Said chasedown block came against last year’s Finals MVP.
- The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead.
All that is fantastic. But in the final two games, it never quite felt like the Warriors were the better team, which took a little spice off the final result.
1. World Series: Cubs vs. Indians
What’s more improbable: Cleveland winning two titles in a year or the Chicago Cubs winning a World Series at all? Probably the latter, if only by a hair.
A seven-game series went into extras and the deciding game was a wild back-and-forth ride. The Cubs started fast and the Indians seemed to just be scratching against the door, but Cleveland’s three-run eighth inning to tie the game had Cubs curse written all over it. But a rain delay to begin the 10th inning was one of those things that only added to the mystique that made for the Cubs’ first World Series win in 108 years.
As hard as I tried, I couldn’t come up with anything to diminish this series in its entirety.
Go ahead, give us your rankings of these five classics in the comment section below.