Before we sang the “Auld Lang Syne”, before we turn another chapter of our book. Here is my year-end review for 2016.
The Return of Manny Pacquiao
We thought we saw Manny’s swan fight when he lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. But instead he fought Timothy Bradley Jr. in April for the third time. After dismantling Bradley in a virtuoso performance, Manny decided to retire. The brief retirement ended months after, when he decided to fight a young and undefeated fighter in Jessie Vargas last November. He took care of Vargas in a convincing fashion. There are still questions left for 2017. Would Manny take a much dangerous road against Terrence Crawford? Or move up to a catch weight to fight Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin? Or a rematch with Floyd for one last time? After his performance in 2016, we all know he has still something left on his tank.
Four years ago, Donaire was groomed to be the next Manny Pacquiao. After that devastating TKO loss to Nicolas Walters in 2014, everything went sour for Nonito. It was a clear indication that his power isn’t built for bigger divisions. His last fight with Jessie Magdaleno was an indication that he isn’t going any divisions higher. And at age 34, it’s high time to think about retirement.
Muhammad Ali’s Death
The boxing world would never be the same again with Muhammad Ali’s passing. But somehow we already know that a ticking time bomb will eventually go off. Muhammad fought Parkinson’s disease for the most part of his retirement life. He could have retired after that brutal fight against Joe Frazier in Thrilla in Manila. But Muhammad continued to fight until he was 39 years old. All those heavy punches and close to death fights have taken its toll. He fought his biggest fight and fought Parkinsons for 32 years. Last June he succumbed to the disease. Which leads us to the next part.
Sugar Shane Mosley, Roy jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins
Mosley and Roy Jones are nearing the fifty mark while Hopkins is already at age 51. A lot of people are calling for their retirement. They belong to boxing’s hall of fame, and their legacy has started to tarnished with them pushing past retirement and with officials still giving them licensed to box. They should have walked out in boxing, while they can still literally walk. Muhammad Ali, could have still been standing and enjoying his retirement if he retired earlier on his career. Mosley and Hopkins had a bitter end to their careers with losses in 2016. While Roy Jones Jr. who won two fights this year, will once again fight for the vacant WBF World cruiserweight title next year in February.
We never thought we could witness a team who piled up wins after wins onward to a historic 73-9 record in the NBA. They were a game ahead of the 72-10 Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan in the 95-96 season. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the rest of the Golden State Warriors proved all the critics that anything is possible. But the historic run came out futile when they failed to win the NBA championship after leading 3-1 against Cleveland.
The 1-3 deficit
Which leads us to another milestone in the NBA. No team has ever won a championship after trailing three games to one in the NBA Finals. But 2016, proved to be a magical year for all of that. After Golden State who was riding a 73-9 regular season record clobbered Cleveland. The hopes of winning a championship for Ohio has started to become blurry. 52 years, after waiting to break the curse, it seemed like they are in for another heartbreak. Lebron James, Ohio’s prodigal son (after leaving Cleveland to Miami, then went back to Cleveland) came to the rescue. They took Golden State all the way to game 7, and after a very hotly contested ball game. Kyrie Irving made a memorable dagger shot with Cleveland winning the championship, right into the hearts of all Warriors fans around the globe and finally ending Ohio’s title drought.
Let’s watch the last minute of the game
Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnet’s retirement
Kevin Garnet could have push for another year. But after losing Flip Saunders due to Lymphoma last October 2015, and the last remnant of Saunder’s team, Sam Mitchell had been fired. With a new management with former bulls’ coach Tom Thibodeau calling the shots. KG decided to retire. After winning his lone championship with the Celtics, KG has nothing left to prove. Although he could be the voice and the role model to a young Wolves team. Tim Duncan in the other hand ended his career the same he started it. There were no fanfares, no goodbye season and no farewells. Tim, just decided to retire, something that he already had in mind but kept mummed, just to get out of the pedestal and people’s attention.
Kobe Bryant’s Retirement
Kobe finally called it quits. The six championship run will have to stop at five. It wasn’t Kobe’s fault that he was left with young inexperience players in the Lakers roster. Lamarcus Aldridge refused to join Kobe and same with Kevin Durant. There was so much left but the battle was already won. Father time finally catch up with Kobe. And on his last game against the Utah Jazz, with all the wonderful memories on his career in Staples Center, Bryant made his last memorable feat. Kobe not only helped his team won the ball game but he scored 60 points in return. Something he hasn’t done for seven years.
With his team down by ten points in the last 2:36 minutes of the game, Kobe put on a one-man show which culminated on a 19-foot jumper and two free throws to sealed the game. It’s not every day we can see players at age 37 scoring 60 points, but yeah Kobe is not your average joe.
As we put 2016 to rest, we look forward to more exciting history in sports in 2017. When they talked about the “light at the end of the tunnel” … maybe it’s just the front of the oncoming train. Let’s all take it easy and enjoy the ride….
Sports Alchemist out!