NOOOO! The best upsets that shocked the sports world in 2016
Paul Lintag on Dec 30, 2016 04:09 PM
Is there a bigger 2016 upset than the Cavs' epic 3-1 comeback in the NBA Finals? (AP)
The one thing about super teams is they can get boring real fast.
Sure, we all want our respective squads to acquire this near mythical status but in sports where suspense and excitement are a premium, there's nothing really exciting in the fact that one particular super team or one singular mega star will most definitely win with ease, nine times out of ten.
However, one thing about the rise of super teams or the evolution of singular players to god level is that there is an opportunity for others to stage a mighty upset.
And we do like some good underdogs, it's human nature.
Fortunately, 2016 has had a number of these "rebels" who stood up to those sports figures who were supposed to win, doing so in memorable fashion as well.
In no particular order, here are the best sporting upsets of 2016.
The Golden State Warriors were an interesting bunch. After the 2015 version basically came out of nowhere to win the NBA title with relative ease, the 2016 group were supposed to build up on that mighty performance.
In so many ways they did just that with the Dubs starting the season with an NBA record 24 straight wins before ending up winning an incredible 73 games, beating the 72-10 record of the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls, arguably the greatest NBA team of all time.
Things didn't go as smooth in the playoffs with the Warriors struggling to get out of the Western Conference, at one point even being down 1-3 to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Conference Final. But by the time the NBA Finals came about against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a second straight title for Golden State was within reach.
For one, the Cavs still couldn't seem to figure out the Dubs and the Warriors raced to a 3-1 lead in the championship series. Game 5 was to be played at the Oracle Arena where Golden State was practically unbeatable, it was a death sentence for Cleveland.
However, one thing that was different in the 2016 Cavaliers compared to the 2015 version that lost the NBA title in six games was Kyrie Irving. In Game 5, Uncle Drew gave the performance of a lifetime, teaming up with LeBron James to drop 41 points apiece to push the series back to Ohio, where a blacked out arena made the Warriors so mad Steph Curry literally threw his now infamous mouthpiece out of frustration.
Despite winning two games in a row, the Cavaliers still weren't completely out of the woods in Game 7 as Draymond Green almost single-handedly won the championship for Golden State. Tied at 89 in the final moments of Game 7, Clevelands prized Big 3 lived up to hype and delivered an incredible set of sequences that will haunt the Warriors forever.
First, LeBron made the biggest block of his career after going the length of the court to deny a go-ahead layup by Andre Iguodala. Second, Kyrie found himself one-on-one with two-time MVP Steph before making the biggest three of his life to put the Cavs up three points. Finaly, Kevin Love, the embattled forward whos was subject to trade talks all season long, made coverage of his life by stopping any decent attempt by Curry to send the game into overtime.
In the end, the Cavaliers overcome a 3-1 and gifted Cleveland its first-ever NBA title, a promise made by James to his home city a long time ago. It was also Cleveland's first major title since 1964.
Speaking of blown 3-1 leads, the Cleveland Indians were on their way to matching the Cavs' championship feat after leading the Chicago Cubs, 3-1, in the World Series.
In a battle of the two teams with the longest active title droughts, the culmination of the 2016 Major League Baseball season was supposed to be classic. It dindn't look like it when the Indians stormed their way out of the gate.
However, the Cubs won Game 5, and then won Game 6 again behind a big play from Fil-Am shortstop Addison Russell to set up an epic finale. The World Series was a classic after all.
In Game 7, the Cubs finally ended a 108-year curse after pulling off a dramatic 8-7 victory in 10 innings, erasing their tags as lovable losers forever.
Conor McGregor was the face of Mixed Martial Arts following an incredible 2015 that included him taking the featherweight championship from Jose Aldo after a mere 13 seconds.
Obviously, the fighting Irishman had lofty goals set for 2016 with winning a second world title at the top of his list.
But in March for UFC 196, McGregor was stopped by Nate Diaz in the second round of their non-title bout, submitting the Irish champion in the second round via a rear-naked choke. Diaz, who was fighting up two weight classes, took the fight on two weeks notice after then lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos suffered a broken foot.
McGregor would later beat Diaz in a rematch at UFC 202 with a majority decision before capping his year by knocking out Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 to win the lightweight title, making him the first fighter to hold two UFC world titles at the same time.
In the end, it was still all good for the Notorious Conor McGregor.
SLAMMED DOWN UNDER
Serena Williams is a freak of nature, simple as that. But every now and then, the mighty American tennis superstar shows chinks in her armor that makes her lose to opponents she's supposed to beat handily.
After suffering a monumental upset at the 2015 US Open, Williams started her 2016 on the wrong foot after dropping the Australian Open Final by Angelique Kerber, 4-6, 6-3, 4-6. Williams had a career head-to-head advantage of 5-1 against Kerber heading into the final.
Williams also lost the 2016 French Open to 23-year-old Garbiñe Muguruza in two sets, marking her third failed attempt to win a 22nd Grand Slam that would tie Steffi Graf's record in the Open era.
To make matters worse, Williams barely made noise in the Olympics where she the the defending gold medalist in both singles and doubles competition. Playing with her sister Venus, Serena lost in the first wound of women' doubles before flaming out in the third round of the singles draw.
The year ended poorly for Williams after she lost the world no. 1 ranking to Kerber after the German won the US Open.
She had one shining moment for the year though, as she got her win back from Kerber in the Wimbledon Final, allowing her to win her 22nd Grand Slam and tie Graf's record.
Leicester City's odds to win the English Premier League? 5,000 to 1.
However, the Foxes had none of that and went on to win their first title in 132 years of existence, beating Everton for England's top football prize.
Even more amazing in Leicester City's run was that the club barely escaped relegation in 2015.
SCHOOL IS IN SESSION
Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time and the butterfly is his specialty, winning the last three Olympic gold medals in the competition.
Naturally, the American powerhouse was expected to take home the 100m butterfly at the Rio Olympics and cap his career with a 24th gold medal in his final individual race.
But Phelps was outdone by 21-year-old Joseph Schooling as the young phenom from Singapore made the biggest splash at the Olympics by beating his childhood hero and giving his country its first Olympic gold.
Schooling grew up idolizing Phelps and he has a picture with him from eight years ago as the American was preparing for the Beijing Games, the same Olympics where he won a record eight gold medals. If we didn't know any better we'd say it was scripted, but its not.
As for Phelps, he finished second in the race tied with longtime rivals Chad le Clos and Lazslo Cseh. Again, if we didn't know any better we'd say it was scripted.
DEATH TO THE DAB
There was no way the Carolina Panthers were supposed to lose Super Bowl 50.
They had the NFL's best record, losing only once all season long, and they had the league MVP in Cam Newton, a towering quarterback who can throw for countless touchdowns or power his way on the ground to get to the endzone.
Another thing going for the Panthers in the Super Bowl is that they avoided meeting the then defending champions New England Patriots and instead were matched up with the Denver Broncos, a team that limped to the NFL's grand showcase with a less than stellar offense led by the ageing Peyton Manning.
Basically, Super Bowl 50 was for the Panthers to lose.
Unfortunately, they did just that.
As expected, Manning barely moved the football for Denver but the Broncos relied on their historic defense, sacking Newton six times and pounding the Panthers to the ground all the way a relatively easy 24-10 win.
Super Bowl MVP Von Miller led the charge for the Broncos, stipping Newton twice that both led to Denver scores.
NOLE-ONGER NUMBER 1
Novak Djokovic's 2016 season actually started out well with the Serbian superstar winning the Australian Open for a sixth time and capturing his firs-ever French Open title, pushing his Grand Slam count to 12 championships.
However, a mid-season slide did him in that eventually caused Nole to lose his world number 1 ranking to rival Andy Murray.
His struggles started at Wimbledon when he lost in the third round to American Sam Querrey, marking his earliest Grand Slam exit since the 2009 French Open.
But the biggest upset of Djokovic's year came in Rio after he lost in the first round of the 2016 Olympics to Juan Martin Del Potro, his first opening round defeat in seven years. He also lost another Grand Slam final to Stan Wawrinka at the US Open, losing the number 1 ranking to Murray in the process.
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