So I asked Bluejay in his AMA thread earlier in the year about what the most meaningful sports championship win in recent years was to him, and he mentioned the Cleveland Cavaliers for being his home team, and not counting those, the Cubs winning the World Series in 2016 after a drought that lasted over a century. It's very hard to deny, as even people who have never been to Chicago surely had reason to celebrate after the Cubs ended that drought. People cried, they rejoiced, they were proud to have lived through it.
In the 2000s decade, Philadelphia, the big one I live near, did have one championship, being the Phillies winning the 2008 World Series despite a rather weak record. And their record was slightly better next year, and they did make the World Series again, but lost. And the 2010s have had two so far. The first (well, it's not technically Philly, but it's right near an area that goes straight into the city, so close enough) was Villanova University winning March Madness in 2016. Now, I had paid decent attention to March Madness back in the day, but I remember how crazy people went near me when Villanova won, especially on the buzzer in the finale. That was quite an excursion. And considering I went to college at one that's literally right near Villanova (though I graduated from it before this happened), I would think that they partied hard then, too.
The second and more important one is, of course, the Eagles winning the Super Bowl this year. For some perspective, in the 2008-09 season, they won the Divisional Playoffs against the New York Giants (aka the defending Super Bowl Champions), but lost to the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship. That was their last victory in a playoff game until this season, where history repeated as they beat the Atlanta Falcons and the Minnesota Vikings to make their way into the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, much like Super Bowl 39 in the 2004-05 season. Not only that, but this was this a team that in the last two seasons, they had the same losing record. Considering that they had lost their star quarterback Carson Wentz in December thanks to a torn ACL, things weren't exactly looking good for them. And yet thanks to some amazing luck happening at just the right moment, they managed to clinch their first Super Bowl title.
So those are the two big ones that I've lived to see through, but as for the other two teams... I talked about it in the Discord last night, but both the 76ers and Flyers' last championship wins were decades ago, many years before any of us here were born. The Flyers made it to the Stanley Cup in 2010, but ultimately lost to the Chicago Blackhawks. Not much hope for either of them to win again anytime soon, but they can rebuild.
So, yeah, PLAYOFFS?! What PLAYOFFS were particularly meaningful to you, whether they were those of your own team, those that won the whole coup, or just games that were epic to watch for whatever reason or just felt rewarding in the end? Any teams you hope will make it and perhaps win their first titles altogether or in a long time? Basically, anything about PLAYOFFS can be talked about here. Discuss!
Oh boy, here we go. This is so long I'm just going to spoiler the whole damn post.
So easily the most important one, and the whole reason I'm an Oilers (and in general sports) fan today is the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs. Now, before this, I was not a hockey fan, nor a sports fan. I wasn't even watching the beginning of these playoffs. But I distinctly remember when I did start watching. I watched the tail end of Game 6 of the Oilers-Sharks series, as the Oilers won 2-0 to advance to the Western Conference Final. And from that point forward, my life changed forever. I started watching the games religiously. It was so insane to be a part of, I felt something I hadn't ever felt before that made me just want to keep watching and cheering the Oilers on. Watching the Oilers easily taking out the Ducks in 5, and then facing the Hurricanes. It was brutal to see Roloson get injured in Game 1, have Conklin blow the game and then get blown out in Game 2. But I still believed, I still cheered. I still remember the most memorable moment of those entire playoffs, as Pisani would score the OT winner in Game 5 to keep the Oilers alive:
The Oilers won Game 6 to force Game 7 after being 3-1, but sadly ended up losing Game 7 and thus the Cup. But hey, they had a good team! Surely they wouldn't do anything crazy like turn into one of the worst teams in the NHL and miss the playoffs in 11 of the next 12 seasons! hahahaha, that's just silly
Second most important one was last year's Stanley Cup playoffs. It was the first time the Oilers had made the playoffs in 10 seasons, and thus the first time I had gotten to actually see them in the playoffs from the beginning (remember, only watched them mid-way through 2006). To make things better, this was the first season my sister and I were season ticket holders. So we had tickets to all the home games (before selling some of them nbd). And we had the best player in the league. So hey, things were looking pretty damn good.
So Game 1. Holy **** that energy in Rogers Place. It was insane to be a part of, to witness the Oilers return to the playoffs. And hey, things were pretty good after the first period. And then they nosedived and we saw our first ever OT loss. whoops. But still, they bounced back. Took a 2-1 series lead. And then they, uh, **** the bed big time in Game 4. I legit thought that was it, they wouldn't come back. And I definitely felt it during Game 5, the crowd wasn't as alive as Game 1, as the Oilers ended up being down 3-1 midway through the 2nd. But they got a PP goal late in the 2nd to make it 3-2. And then, with less than 5 minutes to go, Klef. Bomb.
Rogers Place just ****ing erupted, like holy ****. It was unreal to be there. I was going crazy, the crowd was electric, and that whole OT it felt like the Oilers were going to win. And then, with less than 2 minutes left in the first OT, they did. And it was so surreal to be a part of.
The Oilers would win Game 6 2-1, and just like that, we were off to face the Ducks in the second round. We went up 2-0 against them, and oh boy, did I ever learn how ****ing garbage and rigged the NHL could be. The refs were clearly on the side of the Ducks as they ended up taking a 3-2 series lead, even though they had 6 goals over that 3 game stretch which shouldn't have counted, and multiple penalties which didn't get called. Oilers would destroy them in Game 6, but couldn't do anything in Game 7 as they got eliminated. Even though the Oilers should have won that series ages ago if the refs weren't ****ing awful. I'm still upset over that. And then the rest of the playoffs got cancelled due to the Spanish flu or something idk. But hey, we still have the best player in the league! Surely our dumb **** GM couldn't ruin having him! aahahahahahahaahaha
Third most important would probably be the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. Even though, as seems to be the common theme here, they didn't end well in the end (****ing Boston winning the Cup, urg). That year, Roloson got traded to Tampa, and I thought "hey, that's gonna be what takes them over the top". I started cheering for them because of that trade. Going into the playoffs, I was in a playoff pool with a couple of people from my high school, picked Tampa to actually make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final and had quite a few of their players in my pool. And hey, it was a fun ride. Watching them come back from 3-1 down against Pittsburgh, to sweeping Washington, to being one goal away from making it to the SCF (which actually did make me sad). I really enjoyed watching them and cheering for them, and they were cemented as my East team from that point forward.
Aside from that, there's been some other cool playoff moments. Watching the Bolts make the SCF in 2015. The Toronto Blue Jays return to the playoffs in 2015 was neat to watch, especially Game 5 against the Texas Rangers. Obviously Cubs winning in 2016. Flyers-Pens with a fun first round in 2012. Hawks-Bruins with an amazing SCF in 2013. Countless others.
Dang, I was going to make a list and I see Pendra has already talked about my #1 lol.
Well, I don't think I really went in depth as to why the Cavaliers' championship run means the most to me, so here's that and four others:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers over Golden State Warriors, 2016
The year before, I think we would have had a real chance had Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving stayed healthy. LeBron played out of his mind to get us two wins in 2015, but this year the Golden State Warriors came back even better too, with the 73-9 regular season record. But even down 3-1, I knew there was a chance and the Cavaliers took full advantage, getting back to 3-3 and forcing the game 7. Most of the games in the finals weren't super competitive, but game 7 blew out all expectations with how close the teams were throughout. The score at the end of the game felt like it was 89-89 for centuries. But then LeBron had an amazing block on an Iguodala layup that would have changed the score, Kyrie hit the biggest 3 he's ever hit in his life, Kevin Love played spectacular defense on Steph Curry, and just like that, Cleveland won its first major sports championship in 52 years. Over a million people attended the parade a week later, and it was awesome to see everyone so excited and happy.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes over Alabama Crimson Tide and Oregon Ducks, 2014-15 (college football)
I'm still not 100% sure if Ohio State even deserved the spot in the college football playoffs, since early in the season Virginia Tech (who finished 6-6 iirc) came to town and beat us up by a two touchdown margin. But we did run the table in the Big Ten and destroyed a good Wisconsin team 59-0 with a backup QB, so at that point all bets were off. Drawing my most hated college football team, Alabama, just made me even more invested in the result, and starting from a successful trick play for a TD, I got even more hyped, especially after we took the lead, and definitely so when Ezekiel Elliott ran in a TD over 80 yards. So the victory over Alabama would have been nice enough, but then we smashed Oregon in the championship game too. Definitely the most elated I've ever felt about a football team in the past decade.
3. Chicago Cubs over Cleveland Indians, 2016
Cleveland lost but to the one team that had a longer championship drought than them, so I wasn't upset or anything. It was unfortunate to see the Indians falter at the end, but game 7 in particular was an amazing game of baseball that even I, someone who usually gets bored of watching the sport, watched the entirety of it.
4. UMBC Retrievers over Virginia Cavaliers, 2018 (college basketball)
Hell yeah, the first 16 seed to beat a 1 seed (and the top overall seed, and in a beatdown with a 20 point margin of victory!!). Plus all the storylines going around in the past weekend, especially the UMBC Athletics twitter account. I had too much fun this past weekend and I was sad that Kansas State ended it, but the Retrievers will always be in my heart.
5. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles over Georgetown Hoyas and San Diego State Aztecs, 2013 (college basketball)
Before UMBC, this was my favorite run through the NCAA tournament. The players for FGCU played just as free as the kids from UMBC did, but where UMBC was firing 3s, FGCU dunked the ball hard. Their first two opponents crumbled after every throwdown, making the Eagles the first 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16.
Tennessee Volunteers, 2014 (college basketball) - Got a favorable draw in the tournament despite being a First Four team, came a bad ref call away from beating Michigan in the Sweet 16 that year.
VCU Rams, 2011 (college basketball) - This team had the most interesting Final Four run out of any team I have ever seen.