From the moment the first jumpball opened the season, there was plenty of action, drama and excitement for the millions of NBA fans across the globe.
Imagine, if you will, the defending champion Golden State Warriors sprint to a record-breaking 24-0 start, eclipsing the old standard for best start at 14-0 with a barrage of bombs never before witnessed in the planet. Breaking the old record set by the ’94 Houston Rockets, and zooming way ahead of the pack.
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors’ celebrated Splash Brothers, detonate 3-point bombs from anywhere and everywhere, proving that this is a great idea whose time has come. It’s a shock-and-awe treat that has defenses stretching, big men gasping, coaches scrambling and young fans swooning.
The Splash Brothers would take no prisoners, totally obliterating old 3-point standards, while leading the scoring parade. They dominate the All-Star 3-point contest, making sniper 3’s the weapon of choice – as opposed to in-your-face dagger 2’s – and introduce ‘small-ball’ where speed trumps size and strength.
The San Antonio Spurs slowly flex their muscles as well, methodically scoring victories in the old traditional way, eventually tying the ’86 Boston Celtics league record for most home wins in a season with 40. In the process, they would engage the dazzling Warriors in the race for the best record in the league. The winning ways of the Warriors and the Spurs, coming from diametrically opposed systems, would be something that fans would look forward to watching in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers – losing 2015 finalists in their first start with the redeemer, Lebron James – lick their wounds and make progress, albeit under the radar.
Kobe Bryant would retire at age 37, but not before exploding a monster 60-pt performance in his final game against the clueless Utah Jazz.
Steph Curry would annex his 2nd straight regular season MVP crown in more-than-dominating fashion. He would win it via a first-time-ever unanimous vote, in the process taking the scoring crown and shattering his own single-season 3-point record of 286 last season with a whopping 402 this year!
The Golden State Warriors would set the best-ever regular season record with 73 wins and 9 losses, breaking the standard set by the ’96 Chicago Bulls led by the legendary Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
The playoffs would surface a new threat however, as Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant lead the Oklahoma Thunder to an unlikely win over the Spurs, ending hopes for a much-awaited Western Conference clash of titans between the Warriors and the Spurs.
And as if to prove that they were no fluke, Oklahoma would race to a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 lead against the Warriors. It looked like the end for the defending champs’ magical season. But the Warriors would have none of it. Summoning the focus and the will that made them reign supreme last year, the sweet-shooting Warriors would outlast the Thunder 4-3. Trumpeting ‘Strength in Numbers’, they would become only the 10th out of 233 teams to recover from a 3-1 deficit in a seven-game series to win it all.
And then came the NBA 2016 Finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers had lost last year’s crown despite being the heavy favorites during the regular season. This time around, it was the Warriors who would be getting the highlight reels. With their roles reversed, who would the cage gods favor?
Yup, it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers who will now take their lofty place in the podium this time! In the greatest comeback ever in NBA Finals history, the erstwhile non-performing Cavs upend the record-smashing Golden State Warriors for the 2016 NBA title. The Cavaliers who had lost the NBA Finals last year. The same seemingly-jinxed Cavs who had not won a single NBA crown ever. This time around, they would come from behind 1-3 to become the first-ever NBA champs to win in such dramatic fashion. And the first team to win a pro sports championship for Cleveland since 1964, ending a 52-year drought.
For Cleveland, it was euphoria, after an eternity of waiting. For Lebron, it was redemption. For Steph and the Warriors, it would be a bitter pill to swallow after a glorious, almost magical regular season run. And for us fans, it’s ‘can’t wait for the next one’.
Indeed, NBA 2016 has been a most memorable and unforgettable season. With tears and cheers, with peaks and valleys, with surprises a-plenty and lessons learned. Not just in basketball, but in the game of life itself.
As Forrest Gump said: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Here are some pics of the past amazing season: (courtesy of hoopshabit.com, cleveland.com, scroll.com, wtop.com, abc.net, pregame.com, deadline.com, krn5.com, theguardian.com, twincities.com, cantguard.me, nba.com, hypebeast.com, mercurynews.com, businessinsider.com, bretbart.com)