NBA: Looking Back At The Biggest Basketball Moments From 2016

Jun 16, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) stands on the court against the Golden State Warriors in game six of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland won 115-101. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 16, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) stands on the court against the Golden State Warriors in game six of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland won 115-101. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

As 2016 winds down, we look back at the biggest NBA moments from a pretty historic basketball year

Back in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s the NBA had a slogan that went “Where Amazing Happens.” It was a unique marketing tool used by the league because, well, the league is where amazing happened each night.

As the years went on, the league adopted new slogans for just about every new season from “Big Things Are Coming” to this season’s “This Is Why We Play.” All of them have their unique purposes, but after the 2016 the league has seen, it might as well revert back to “Where Amazing Happens,” because historic games and comebacks were seen along with an unthinkable acquisition and a historic regular season by an individual who might not win MVP and much more.

We look back at a few of the biggest NBA moments from 2016.

Honorable mention: Steph hits 13 three-pointers; Klay scores 60 through three quarters; All-Star game almost reaches 200 point total; Westbrook and Anthony Davis historic games to start season; increase of dual threat bigs.

Apr 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) acknowledges the crowd as he walks off the court at the end of the final game of his career at Staples Center. The Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz 101-96. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) acknowledges the crowd as he walks off the court at the end of the final game of his career at Staples Center. The Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz 101-96. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Kobe Bryant

The act of being great on the court consistently isn’t forever. The memory of that greatness is. Kobe Bryant is living proof of it, as the 2015-16 season was dubbed “The Farewell Tour” by many. The Lakers weren’t going anywhere except the lottery that season and Bryant was a shell of himself for tidbits of the season… Well, until April 13th.

On that late night at the Staples Center, where greats from the entertainment and sports world collided, Bryant put on a show only he could with a league-high for the season with 60 points (yeah, he took 50 shots but he literally went out guns blazing).

It was a performance not a soul in that arena or an individual watching via TV or stream would’ve seen coming. Him scoring at least 20 points seemed as reasonable way to go out. But to score 60 – that number greater than 30, 40 and 50 – in his last game epitomizes an entertainer saving their best for last.

The game is not only an NBA or Bryant classic, it’s a sports classic. Not every athlete can leave their respective sport on top with a feeling of dominance. Bryant had the luxury of doing so, as it was a reasonable alternative since he didn’t have the opportunity to contend for an elusive sixth title.

Jun 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts before game seven of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts before game seven of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

73-9

Akin to how no one envisioned Bryant scoring 60 at any point during his last season, no one would’ve even raised the thought of the 72-10 record by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls ever being touched. For exactly 20 seasons that was the thought, until the Golden State Warriors started their regular-season 24-0 – which is the greatest start to any season among major sports in North America – and talks commenced on them matching or breaking such an unfathomable record.

Long story short, they did break the record for most wins in the regular-season by going 73-9. Their historic first seven months of the season have brought up conversations for them being the greatest regular season team in NBA history, which would be hard to debate.

Here are some of a litany of records that were set: Most road wins (34); longest home win-streak dating back to 2014-’15 season (54); most three-pointers made (1,077); and first team to never lose consecutive games.

It’s been said before about the 72-10 Bulls, and the same will be said about the 73-9 Warriors: No one will ever break their record. It’s hard to predict the future but for a team to not lose more than eight games is a very difficult task, unless the team is revolutionary like the Warriors where opposing defenses are stuck in a conundrum to stop them.

Through their run, the Warriors had some breaks during their run such as Brook Lopez of the Nets missing a point-blank game-winner in Oracle. Either way though, their production throughout the regular season will never go unforgotten for years to come.

May 11, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) with the MVP trophy before game five of the second round of the NBA Playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Steph goes unanimous

With the Warriors going 73-9, it was easy for voters to select an MVP. So easy that it led to Stephen Curry becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history. His selection was realistically the only choice, and he basically clinched the award in the early parts of the season.

For a fact, after his12 three-pointer game against the Thunder on February 12th, in which he scored 46 points, set a league record for three-pointers in a season and had the kahunas to pull-up from 38-feet to hit the game-winner in overtime.

Curry’s historic season as a two-time MVP has a bevy of highlights to it, but what stands out the most with it is his improvement. He yet again broke his own record for three-pointers in a season (402) and became a member of the elusive 50-40-90 club for the first time in his career, while averaging a league-high 30.1 points per game. The aforementioned average is a huge increase the 23.8 he had in the season prior in his first MVP season.

Typically, an individual’s MVP campaign is their best one, but for some reason Curry showed many that he could improve in multiple ways from the season prior. That, along with setting records for himself and team, led him to go unanimous and have one of the best regular seasons in league history.

May 30, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan (left) talks to forward Kevin Durant (35) during the fourth quarter in game seven of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Thunder 96-88. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

May 30, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan (left) talks to forward Kevin Durant (35) during the fourth quarter in game seven of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Thunder 96-88. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Thunder blow 3-1

Since the 2011-12 season, the Oklahoma City Thunder were a huge “what if” team. What if James Harden wasn’t traded? What if Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook weren’t hurt? The list of questioning continues with that team, but did reach a stale mate when the team had a 3-1 lead on the Warriors during the 2016 Western Conference Finals.

It looked the team would be able to forget all their “what if” scenarios and finally move on and advance to The Finals for the first time since 2012. It looked like a plausible thought until this happened: Klay Thompson, Game 6.

In a game where it looked the Thunder were going to clinch, having led most the game and being up seven with five minutes left and up three with under three minutes left, you’d think it’d be a nice cushion and confidence booster to finish the job at home. Well, that’s why you play the game and don’t count out a team that won 73 games.

Thompson set a playoff-record with 11 three-pointers to go with Curry’s near triple-double performance of 31-10-9 with six three-pointers. It’s hard to stop something no one could virtually do until The Finals. Golden State won Game 5 and 7 by decent sized margins, but Game 6 was OKC’s last hope of advanced and they let it slip away.

Lucky for them, karma is a real thing.

Jun 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots a free throw in the third quarter in game seven of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots a free throw in the third quarter in game seven of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Warriors blow a 3-1 lead

Golden State’s coming off a series comeback against Oklahoma City to play a Cleveland team they beat in The Finals a year prior and had obliterated by 34 in their previous meeting. Historic team vs a team starting to put things together.

Early in the series it looked Golden State was going to make quick work of Cleveland by holding a 3-1 lead and having a 23-point differential against them in the series. But this is why you play the game, because looks can be deceiving. The Cavs would go on to win the next three games in historic fashion with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James being the catalyst of 40-point games and big shots alongside Kevin Love showcasing his dominant attribute of rebounding.

The Warriors became the first team in NBA Finals history to relieve a 3-1 lead, and thus their historic season ended with them being on the opposing side of the history.

Cavs end the drought

The city of Cleveland had a 52-year championship drought among major sports. 52 years. Half a century. Someone literally went through their childhood, teenage years, college years, prime years, and most of their adult life, into parent territory without seeing a championship parade.

All that changed when something clicked for the Cavs in Game 5 against the Warriors in Oakland. Both LeBron and Kyrie became the first duo in league history to record at least 40 points in the same game, which subsequently saved their season. Game 6 was a blowout victory in Cleveland and Game 7 is where the history was made.

Draymond Green had one of the best games in NBA Finals history that’ll go overshadowed because his team lost. James, Irving and Love carried the team in their comeback to make history as the first team in the existence of the finals to overcome 3-1 deficit and ending their championship drought. Their Game 7 win showcased emotion from all the players and staff along with the fans during the parade, with 1.3 million in attendance.

It took a miracle, but “Believeland” wouldn’t want it any other way.

September 26, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) and guard Stephen Curry (30) pose for a photo during media day at the Warriors Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

September 26, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) and guard Stephen Curry (30) pose for a photo during media day at the Warriors Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant heads to the Bay

In sports, loyalty is everything from the perspective of a fan. Staying with the team that gave a select athlete their first contract is what people want to see, especially when that athlete blossoms into a Hall of Fame caliber player. What’s wrong with that thought process, is the inability to recognize the businesses aspect of the sport, and that it’s a place of employment.

Durant decided to join the Warriors this past summer, a team that matched up well with the Thunder and trailed 3-1 against them during the Western Conference Finals. The July 4th move shocked many because it was never seen before of an athlete leaving in free agency to join an already established team that was two minutes away from repeating as league champs.

Joining a team that had three All-Stars the previous season is unprecedented, but it happened. The transition of Durant to the team has been as seamless as Ben Affleck becoming Batman. Not many support the move, but at the end of the day it makes sense. Durant now has an optimal chance to win his first championship in an environment that has been praised as laid back and loose.

It’s win now mode for Durant and crew, and he has no choice, and as of right now he’s looking like the likely MVP.

Nov 28, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket past New York Knicks guard Courtney Lee (5) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 28, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket past New York Knicks guard Courtney Lee (5) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Westbrook chases history

This generation of NBA basketball has been credited with stat inflation due to the pace and space type of play. It’s a thought some have, but once the 2016-17 season of Westbrook is brought up its hard to say that.

He’s literally averaging a triple-double thus far with 30-10-10 across the board, and his 30 points per game leads the league. The Thunder star is in a world of his own where he could become the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double over the course of a season. Through 32 games, he’s recorded 15 triple-doubles.

This is the type of season many had envisioned him having with Durant’s departure, but now that it’s reality it’s a surreal sight.

In summary, the past year in the NBA has been amazing, and probably one of the best in league history. Records were set by teams and players that were deemed unthinkable until they were accomplished.

Doing the unthinkable has made 2016 for the league one of the best calendar years its seen in a while, and once shows why the NBA is where where amazing happens.

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