I can’t believe it’s that time of the year already. It’s time to take a look back at what took place in 2017 in the sports world. There were several celebrations, some of whom were redemption tours, and one victory will live in infamy.
In college football, it was the rematch! The Clemson Tigers had watched the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate a national title 45-40 in one of the best college football games. The Tigers had one goal, getting to Tampa for the title game and winning it. They did just that. In the last two minutes of the game, Quarterback DeShaun Watson completed six of his eight passes for 50 yards, culminating in a 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second left. This allowed Clemson to win 35-31 and complete their unfinished business.
It was the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, January 28th when Serena Williams became the GOAT (greatest of all time) in tennis. She beat older sister Venus 6-4, 6-4 to win the Australian Open. The 35-year-old Serena had just won her seventh Australian Open title. The most impressive part was that Serena was pregnant at the time. Steffi Graf’s 22 Grand Slam singles titles since the Open era was finally broken.
The greatest Super Bowl to date will live in infamy just like the score 28-3. It’s still painful knowing a Super Bowl party was planned on Peachtree Street during the third quarter. Unfortunately, for the hometown Atlanta Falcons, it was never a reality. The New England Patriots came back to win in overtime 34-28. It gave quarterback Tom Brady his fifth ring tying him with Charles Haley of the Cowboys as the most ever.
The state of Carolina showed why they were clearly the best in college basketball. It can’t be overlooked that the UCONN Huskies had a 111-game winning streak come to an end during the Final Four. However, the South Carolina Gamecocks and head coach Dawn Staley would win their first title 67-55. The Mississippi State Bulldogs were also making their first trip to the championship game. The two teams faced each other twice during the season with the Gamecocks winning both meetings. Making it a 3-peat made it even more satisfying. The next day, the North Carolina Tarheels completed their redemption tour. It was a year ago as they watched the Villanova Wildcats hit a three-pointer to win the title. This time the Tarheels were on the victorious side of the falling confetti. They won 71-65 over the Gonzaga Bulldogs, a game that came down to the last minute. It gave the Tarheels their sixth title and head coach Roy Williams, his third.
It has been a long time in professional sports where we have witnessed several champions in a 72-hour stretch. This feat took place between the dates of June 10-13.The NLL (National Lacrosse League) crowned a new champion on June 10. In only their second year in Atlanta, the Georgia Swarm finished in first place in the Eastern Conference with a 13-5 record. They went to the Champions Cup and played the two-time defending champions, the Saskatchewan Rush. They would win the Cup by sweeping the Rush 18-14 and 15-14 in OT. The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup on June 11. The Penguins did something that hasn’t been done since 1997-98 by the Detroit Red Wings. They won back-to-back championships. They beat the Nashville Predators in Nashville in Game 6 by a score of 2-0. On June 12, the Golden State Warriors became NBA champions by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers four games to one. Ever since last year with the Cavaliers coming back from a 3-1 deficit to win the championship on the Warriors home floor, there has been one mission and one mission only. Kevin Durant was the difference in these finals because he led them to a title with a playoff record of 16-1.
In the same manner that the Carolinas owned college basketball, Florida owned the college diamond. The softball team played Oklahoma, but the Sooners got the best of the Gators. They won 7-5 and 5-4 in Game 1 and 2 respectively. The guys got revenge for the ladies and won the College World Series, securing the first national title in baseball in the history of the school. They beat LSU 4-3 and 6-1 in Game 1 and 2 respectively. Florida joins Michigan, Ohio State and UCLA as the only schools to have won a national championship in baseball, football and basketball.
“The Money Fight.” That’s the nickname given to the Floyd Mayweather Jr. verse Conor McGregor fight on August 26, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. How else do you explain a 40-year-old fighter who is 49-0, fighting a 29-year-old MMA fighter with ZERO experience in boxing? Mayweather won by TKO in the 10th round because McGregor was fatigued and didn’t throw a punch in two minutes. Mayweather was guaranteed to make $100 million but more importantly, he is the only fighter in history to be 50-0.
The Minnesota Lynx watched as the Los Angeles Sparks celebrated on their home court. It was an epic battle that came down to a last second shot, in a winner-take-all Game 5. This Finals was the exact same, just a different team hoisting the trophy. The Lynx could now properly celebrate their 85-76 victory on their home court. They have been in six of the last seven WNBA Finals, and have won four of the last seven.
The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers were clearly the two best teams in their respective leagues. It came down to the Astros being “Houston Strong” and using the cities flooding tragedy to fuel them. They won their first ever World Series by winning Game 7 with a score of 5-1 in L.A.
Martin Truex Jr. was clearly the best NASCAR driver all year. His final race of the season, in Homestead, was his best. By winning that eighth race, he captured the Monster Energy Cup Series Championship.
Congratulations to all the champions in 2017!