3. A truly “golden” goal.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

1. The block.

E All due re­spect to Kyrie Irv­ing’s 3-pointer, The Play of The Fi­nals was of­fered by King James. LeBron James’ chase­down block of An­dre Iguo­dala with 1:51 re­main­ing in Game 7 of the NBA Fi­nals — a shot that would have given Golden State the lead — wasn’t just the defin­ing mo­ment of 2016, but per­haps the defin­ing mo­ment of James’ Hall of Fame ca­reer as well. He didn’t do it alone, as J.R. Smith helped im­pede Iguo­dala’s path and give James the ex­tra split­sec­ond that he needed to get to the rim. But the enor­mity of the mo­ment made the block even big­ger: Golden State had a record-set­ting 73-win reg­u­lar season, the se­ries was tied 3-3, the to­tal points in that se­ries were tied at that mo­ment 699-699. Af­ter that block, the War­riors wouldn’t score again. And James would soon be­come a three-time NBA cham­pion.

4. For you, Jose.

CDee Gor­don of the Mi­ami Mar­lins hit one home run in 2016. It was of the you-can­not-makethis-up va­ri­ety — and it will for­ever live in Mar­lins lore. It was the first at-bat for the Mar­lins af­ter the death of ace pitcher Jose Fernandez in a boat­ing ac­ci­dent. Gor­don, a lefty hit­ter, started on the right side of the plate as part of his Fernandez trib­ute. Af­ter mov­ing back to the left side, he hit a ball far­ther than he ever has, while wear­ing a “Fernandez 16” jersey . Even some of the New York Mets were in tears, and the Mets tweeted out “Big­gerThanBase­ball.”

5. A skate-off win­ner.

They made it look so easy. Pitts­burgh's Sid­ney Crosby won the face­off in over­time of Game 2 of the Stan­ley Cup fi­nal against San Jose, played it back to Kris Le­tang, who found Conor Sheary — who fired the puck be­tween the legs of on­com­ing de­fender Justin Braun and scored to give the Penguins a 2-1 win in the game and 2-0 lead in the se­ries. The Penguins would take the Stan­ley Cup in six games.

7. Su­per strip, sack, score.

C Last season, but still this year — and still mem­o­rable. Den­ver’s Von Miller had two crit­i­cal strip-sacks of Carolina’s Cam New­ton in Su­per Bowl 50, the sec­ond one just about seal­ing the game. But the first one is the one that gave the Bron­cos a 10-0 lead mid­way through the first quar­ter and set­ting the tone. Ma­lik Jack­son pounced on this ball in the end zone, and Miller wound up win­ning Su­per Bowl MVP.

9. Catch­ing at­ten­tion.

One of the last college foot­ball plays of 2016 pro­vided one of the best plays of 2016. Kevin Rader some­how — even with a de­fender wrapped all over him — catches the win­ning touch­down pass from Hunter Wells, giv­ing Youngstown State a thrilling vic­tory over East­ern Wash­ing­ton in the FCS na­tional semi­fi­nals. Rader was deemed to be in con­trol of the ball, even while pin­ning it against East­ern Wash­ing­ton line­backer Ket­ner Kupp. E Imag­ine the pres­sure. Brazil, a soc­cer­crazed na­tion, is host­ing the men’s goldmedal soc­cer match at the Olympics. The stadium is packed, and all the bril­liant young star Ney­mar needs to do to clinch the per­fect medal is make the fi­nal kick of a penalty-shot tiebreak­ing shootout. He found a spot to his right, started ap­proach­ing the ball, stut­ter-stepped a bit and then fi­nally de­liv­ered the kick. Ger­many goalie Timo Horn guessed wrong, the ball went into the net and Brazil roared in de­light. Most of the crowd stayed in the stadium for an hour af­ter­ward, many weep­ing in joy.

6. Nerves of steel.

On the LPGA Tour, teens aren’t afraid of the mo­ment. Ly­dia Ko, 19, and Brooke Hen­der­son, 18, went to a play­off to de­cide the KPMG Women’s PGA Cham­pi­onship. And on the first ex­tra hole, Hen­der­son stood with a 7-iron in her hands, 158 yards from the hole. She knocked the ap­proach within 3 feet, made the birdie putt and cap­tured her first ma­jor ti­tle. “Like win­ning the Stan­ley Cup,” the bud­ding Cana­dian star said.

8. Si­mone’s splash.

Si­mone Manuel of the U.S. was trail­ing by 0.47 sec­onds half­way through the women’s 100-me­ter freestyle gold medal race at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and a half-sec­ond is quite a bit to make up in such a race against the world’s best. But she made it look easy with a fran­tic fi­nal 50 me­ters, and made his­tory — she be­came the first African-Amer­i­can woman to win an in­di­vid­ual swim­ming Olympic gold, ty­ing Canada’s Penny Olek­siak for the win.

10. Come­back put­back.

The scene: No time­outs left, a big late lead hav­ing turned into a one-point deficit and an en­tire arena in Min­nesota scream­ing for you to fail. Some­how that brought out the best in Nneka Og­wu­mike of the Los Angeles Sparks. Her bas­ket with 3.1 sec­onds left in a thrilling Game 5 of the WNBA Fi­nals gave the Sparks a 77-76 vic­tory over the then-reign­ing-cham­pion Lynx.

Marcio Jose Sanchez, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Lynne Sladky, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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