2016 has finally crept to a close. With that I wanted to forget the bad parts and take a quick look at some of my favorite moments of the year. Mostly this list covers sports (of course) but there are a few pop culture and entertainment moments covered as well. For the most part the list goes from in order, but I’m not going to debate that anything ranks ahead of the one before it, outside of the top 3. Feel free to comment with anything I missed, there will surely be plenty.
Eli Manning Sad Face
Eli Manning and the whole Manning Family celebrate Peyton winning his second Super Bowl.
Even though the individual moment was so small, and one I certainly forgot about, this GIF quickly became one of my all-time favorites. The Setting: Super Bowl 50, Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers. The Panthers had quickly become America’s favorite team. Cam Newton was dabbing on everyone, hanging out with rap superstar Future and the NBA’s Golden Child Steph Curry, and led Carolina to a 17-1 start going into the 50th Super Bowl against a Denver Broncos team sporting Peyton Manning in what was rather clearly going to be his final game.
Fast forward to the moment Peyton Manning locked up his second Super Bowl, and the obligatory scanning of the quarterback’s family, the famed Manning Bunch. The Look on Eli Manning’s face as his older brother clinches his second Super Bowl win, to tie Eli, perfectly sums up everything that has ever been said when comparing the brothers. The one advantage Eli has had over his brother since 2011 was having won two Super Bowls to Peyton’s one. With Peyton seemingly headed to retirement, Eli had his eyes set on the one SB win differential, and the ability to hang that over Peyton’s head for the rest of his life. In this moment, Eli has to deal with the fact that those dreams have now been potentially squashed, and his family unabashedly cheers on Peyton as if he’s everyone’s favorite Manning (not that he isn’t). The stark contrast between the Manning family cheering in utter joy, and Eli realizing he now has no advantages over his older brother, enters the realm of the other great Eli face fiasco, although I’m unsure if it can unseat that gem.
Larry Nance Jr Obliterates Brook Lopez
Slam dunks are clearly one of the most exciting plays in sports, and “posters” take that to a whole new level. Since the NBA became widely broadcast, dunks have been chronicled and we still talk about dunks from the 1970s. Therefore, it can be hard to get outrageous reactions to dunks when they’ve become so routine in the game. Lakers sophomore Larry Nance, Jr. however, managed to fulfill my and many NBA fans wish on December 14th when he absolutes destroyed Brook Lopez and the Nets franchise. The dunk itself is outstanding, and probably ends up being the top dunk of the season, but the fact that it got a legit reaction out of the Nets bench takes it to legendary status. I’m actually not sure if I’ve ever seen a ball higher in the air on a dunk than Nance had it. Brook Lopez does get points however for challenging it in the first place and not toppling over like many have in the past. (Ahem Varejao)
Other noteworthy posterizing dunks for your viewing:
Joe Budden Doesn’t F Around
Quick Backstory: Joe Budden and Drake had a long standing beef centering around apparent shots at Budden on a few Drake tracks on “Views”. Budden critiqued the album on his podcast and the heat only picked up from here. As shown with the Drake Meek Mill, new age rap beefs happen on Twitter, not in the streets. Speaking of Meek, he tried to make the beef a three way affair, but didn’t make much of an impact in the ring. Anyways, Drake and Budden continued to make diss tracks aimed at each other throughout the summer. This all culminated on around July 24th, 2016, when some Drake stans drove over to Joe Buddens house to rile him up. They knocked on his door, yelled at him, and ran up on his car door. This led to one of the greatest chase scenes ever recorded in real life.
Budden proceeds to pursue the 3 individuals in his car, and run up to their window, banging on it with a rock, while wearing a scraggly undershirt, evoking memories of Samuel L. Jackson in Black Snake Moan.
Quick rundown of great quotes
“Follow me on Twitter boi”
“Come round this fucking block again I’m gonna kill one of you lil niggas”
“You got a phone out?” – then proceeding to almost dump rocks through the sunroof
“This is not the internet”
“I will kill one of you”
“I understand, I’m sorry. I apologize for everything”
“Do you hear the words I am saying”
“I got you. Follow me on Twitter tho alright?”
“I Keep saying these internet games gonna get one of you niggas killed”
Add in the fact that Joey Jump Off recorded the chase from his view as well and it doesn’t get much better. There have been rumblings over the last few years that rappers aren’t tough anymore, not street enough, the game’s soft, etc. but Joe Budden was here to remind the youngins that it ain’t a game. It’s real life.
The video also created one of the best celebrity memes of the decade.
Ryan Lochte Proves Biggest Idiot
It’s pretty hard for an athlete to single handedly take over the press during the Olympics. Getting a gold medal usually leads to discussion that day and the next morning, but subsides rather quickly. Leave it to Ryan Lochte to have America captivated by a somber story of four swimmers robbed in Brazil, quickly turned police investigation into its legitimacy, video of drunk men peeing and destroying a gas station bathroom and potential charges. I won’t recap it in full because everyone knows the story, but I will add that in the most Lochte move it started with an unnecessary lie to his mother and turned it into a leading role on Dancing with the Stars.It’s pretty hard for an athlete to single handedly take over the press during the Olympics. Getting a gold medal usually leads to discussion that day and the next morning, but subsides rather quickly. Leave it to Ryan Lochte to have America captivated by a somber story of four swimmers robbed in Brazil, quickly turned police investigation into its legitimacy, video of drunk men peeing and destroying a gas station bathroom and potential charges. I won’t recap it in full because everyone knows the story, but I will add that in the most Lochte move it started with an unnecessary lie to his mother and turned it into a leading role on Dancing with the Stars.
Kanye is a “Fingers in the Booty Ass Bitch”
There are maybe five days every year where having Twitter is pure gold and those not in on the craze truly miss out on a movement. Reading people’s thoughts in real time, seeing newly created memes, and hearing the affected parties chime in creates levels of drama, comedy, and suspense that television can only reach in a series finale. This particular moment in 2016 occurred way back on January 27th.
It all started with a simple critique from Wiz Khalifa about Kanye naming his new album Waves, because of the history of incarcerated rapper Max B setting the trend of being “wavy”. Quick Backstory: Wiz Khalifa was recently married to Amber Rose and fathered a child with her, after Kanye and Rose split. Twitter fingers got another rapper in trouble. This time it was Kanye, but not before he got in some good shots at Wiz after mistaking “Hit this kk and become yourself” as a diss at his wife Kim Kardashian, and not Wiz offering Kanye to smoke some of his Khalifa Kush.
Notable tweets from West:
“3rd no one I know has ever listened to one of your albums all the way through”
“4th you let a stripper trap you”
“5th I know you mad every time you look at your child that this girl got you for 18 years”
“7th I am your OG and I will be respected as such”
“8th I made it so we could wear tight jeans”
“10th don’t you ever in your fucking life speak sideways about a nigga that’s fighting for us I do this for all of us”
“12th You wouldn’t have a child if it wasn’t for me”
“13th You own waves???? I own your child!!!!”
“17th I think you dress cool I wish I was skinny and tall”
“maybe I couldn’t be skinny and tall but I’ll settle for being the greatest artist of all time as a consolation”
Kanye went on for a good amount of time without any responses from Wiz, and just when it seemed like he’d won and we could all move on with our days, Wiz’s baby mama brought down the hammer.
As of December 30th, this tweet was retweeted almost 281,000 times and was by far the biggest clapback of the year. People clowned on Kanye for weeks and it’s safe to say he’s had a pretty eventful year to make us forget somewhat about this episode.
2016 NBA Dunk Contest
The Dunk Contest has long been a staple of All-Star weekend, but in recent years had become rather underwhelming. Be it the corny gimmicks or a player’s ability to attempt a dunk 20 times before making one and not being penalized, the Dunk Contest had lost it’s luster over the last decade. Enter Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon.
You can debate whether LaVine or Gordon ultimately should have won, but it can’t be debated that we didn’t witness one of the best dunk contests since Vince Carter put his elbow in the rim. Both players have absurd athleticism, and the bringing the Magic mascot in on a hoverboard was the type of creativity that the event has been missing recently. Hopefully we get a much deserved rematch at the 2017 All-Star Weekend in New Orleans.
The OJ Craze
2016 was the year of the unbelievable in plenty of areas. The Cavs and Cubs both breaking their curses with 3-1 comebacks, the most unexpected presidential election results of all-time, the amount of celebrity deaths, etc. 2016 was also the year of OJ Simpson. 21 years after “The Trial of the Century”, we saw an Emmy winning miniseries, The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and the universally acclaimed five part documentary O.J.: Made in America, among others. As someone who was 4 years old during the trial it was great to be taken back in time to the most publicized criminal trial in American history. The acting in the miniseries was superb for the most part, and the miniseries touched on all the surrounding facets of the case. It got to the point where it seemed every channel had its own OJ documentary and coverage, but before the public was burned out, the OJ Craze provided some of the best television of the year. It even reached a point where there were false reports of new evidence being found. This just leaves me to wonder what the media craze of 2017 will be.
Cubs Win World Series
Any other list would have the Cubs winning the world series number one, but as I’m not a huge baseball fan it doesn’t make my top 3. The accomplishment itself, however, is too great to not be recognized. Finally breaking The Curse of the Billy Goat, the Cubs got their first World series win since 1908, a span of 108 years, meaning the extreme majority of the world’s population was not alive last time that happened. While I’m not a huge baseball fan, I am a big fan of teams breaking long losing droughts, seeing as I am a Washington sports fan and the city hasn’t seen a major sports championship since January 1992, when I was 8 months old. If the Cubs can do it, so can we! In addition, I’m a fan of heartfelt and touching sports videos, and not much can top a video of elderly fans celebrating a moment they thought they’d never live to see.
NOVA UNC College Basketball Final
Considered by some as the greatest college basketball title game of all-time, Villanova UNC was certainly a legendary game. There were more clutch shots in this game than any I’ve ever seen, and was the best game the NCAA could have hoped for. College basketball isn’t always the most exciting version of basketball, but this game showed exactly what we hope for as fans. Marcus Paige hit an absurd double clutch three pointer, only to be outdone by local Maryland product Kris Jenkins a minute later. Villanova had plenty of people slighting them all year, but they proved through the tournament and on the game’s biggest stage that they belonged at the top.
THE TOP 3
Kobe Scores 60
As fun as 2016 was, the retirement of Kobe Bryant did loom large. He had been the face of the league for much of the time since the retirement of Michael Jordan, and is probably the closest player we’ll see to MJ. In a year when Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett also retired, Kobe’s had a different effect because of the nature of his game and career, as well as the fact that he announced his decision to retire one month into the season, leaving us with a five month retirement tour. He had a historically inefficient final season, but none of that mattered on April 14th. His final game actually took place on the same night that the Warriors were poised to break the regular season record for wins in a season. The plan for me, like most fans, was to watch the beginning of the Warriors game as they grew a large lead, then pop in for some minutes of Kobe’s final game when the Warriors lead grew large enough and the bench unit entered. Instead, we found ourselves watching Kobe’s final game basically from start to finish. He began the game missing some comically easy shots, but eventually found his way, en route to 60 points on a career high 50 shot attempts. Many times last season he seemingly couldn’t play 24 minutes, yet this game he played all 24 minutes in the second half, leading his team to a comeback win, including the game winning shot late.
It was hilarious seeing his teammates who are also paid to play basketball not even wanting to shoot late in the game because the fans would boo. This was as close to a Hollywood ending as we could get from one of the all-time greats.
Warriors Win 73 Games
The other storyline of the 2015-16 NBA Season other than Kobe’s retirement announcement, was the Warriors race for the most wins in regular season history. 20 years earlier the 1995-96 Bulls set a mark that many never thought would be broken (72 wins in 82 games). The defending champion Warriors raced to a 24-0 start causing the debates to start. In today’s NBA, with plenty of players resting throughout the season, it in fact didn’t seem possible to break the record. Golden State however, was the perfect team to go for 73 wins. They had the best offense in the league, the second best defense, and pulled out least 5-8 games out of their ass. With Steph Curry hitting 402 threes on the season, the Warriors got out to huge leads, were able to rest their stars in the 4th quarter. This isn’t really a moment, but their game against the Thunder was probably the signature win of the season, and potentially the best regular season game I’ve ever seen. Throw in the 3-1 comeback they had against the Thunder in the conference finals, a series if lost seemingly would have led to Kevin Durant staying in OKC. That Warriors team was the most fun team I’ve watched play, and although the end result was disappointing, their regular season performance can’t be forgotten.
Cavs Win 2016 NBA Finals, Beat Warriors
There is simply no way around this one. The year long anticipation of the rematch, the record breaking season from the Warriors, and Cleveland being healthy this go around, created one of the most anticipated Finals matchups of all-time. And it did not disappoint. Cleveland famously fell behind 3-1 in the series before becoming the first team in NBA Finals history to come back from a 3-1 deficit. LeBron scored 41 points in Game 5 and 6, led his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks for the series, and had a triple double in the clinching game 7 road win. Speaking of blocks, with the game in the balance, Lebron added one of the biggest plays in NBA history with a monstrous transition block, before his running mate Kyrie Irving hit one of the biggest shots in NBA History.
“The Block” and “The Shot” are forever enshrined in the history of Cleveland, and helped the city get its first major sports title since 1964. In the process, this game added a defining moment to the legacy of LeBron James, stopped the silly discussion of Steph Curry as the best basketball player in the world, but also made way for the creation of the most villiany of Super Villain teams: The 2017 Golden State Warriors