Leads just aren’t safe anymore
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
Man oh man, it’s only March but it’s been a hell of a year for sports. While this year may have handed us some of the best comeback stories of all time, they’ve also given us some us the best choke stories. Buckle up, because you’re going to wish you knew CPR by the end of this article. Hell, maybe it could have saved one of these teams.
Golden State? More like Silver State
Coming into the 2015–16 NBA season, the Golden State Warriors looked like the best team out there. Fresh off a championship win, the team bested the long-coveted 1996 season record held by the Chicago Bulls of 72–10, going 73–9 in the regular season.
Playoffs were a different beast. In the Western Conference Finals against the OKC Thunder, the Warriors went down 3 games to 1 before coming back to take the series 4 to 3. After that run, they looked poised to win another ring. They played like it too, going up 3–1 on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then it all kind of came apart. Some people say that the Golden State Warriors choked on their own ego. Others would say that they were choking on reality being shoved down their gullet. I’d like to think that they were choking on water. After all, you can’t be the splash bros if you don’t drown every once and a while.
Chicago Cubs? Bearly made it
Best MLB record in recent years, greatest looking roster in a long time and a dramatic history to boot—it was no small accomplishment when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series against the Cleveland Indians.
As miraculous as their win was, it was an even bigger toss up from their opponents. The sports gods are fickle creatures. The choke master taketh and giveth. In this case, he gave the Cleveland Cavaliers a backbone, and let them comeback against the Golden State Warriors. It’s too bad that backbone came from the Cleveland Indians. When it came time to close out the World Series with a 3–1 lead, you would think all you needed to do is have a couple solid pitchers play 7–8 innings, have your closer do his job, and as long as you got more runs than the other guys, voila, World Series Champions. Not only did that not happen, but the Cleveland team had three chances at getting it right, and still messed it up. Note to Cleveland players: ease up on the peanuts. They literally say choking hazard on the bag.
Atlanta Falcons flew right into this one
Is Tom Brady the greatest quarterback of all time? Debatable. But is he the best quarterback of modern era NFL football? Without a doubt. The man throws dimes when all you give him is nickels.
However, football is not a one man game, as there is both offence and defence to each team. The Atlanta Falcons offence did really well. Like 28–3 really well. In fact, Tom Brady didn’t even score in the first half of the Superbowl.
Turns out they forgot to switch the G.O.A.T. setting on at kickoff. Tom Brady came back in the second half playing so well it was like he was on both the offensive and defensive teams. Tom Brady was a monster in the second half. But let’s look at the big reason why the Atlanta Falcons blew a 25 point lead and let the Patriots score 31 points unanswered. They sucked.
Were you expected some long convoluted excuse about how Atlanta’s play calls were all messed up, or how their secondary got unlucky with bounces? Nah. Football is the kind of sport where you really just have to take it like it is. The Atlanta Falcons lost for one reason. As my good friend John Madden would explain, the Atlanta Falcons lost because they scored less points than the Patriots.
In all seriousness though, Atlanta forgot that football is a 60-minute game and only showed up for the first 30 minutes. Did they choke? By definition, yes. They blew a massive lead. But did they choke for real? I couldn’t tell, I was too busy watching the Falcons cry after Matt Ryan fumbled the ball on a third and one.
PSG vs. Barcelona
Oh boy. It seems like every time the Americans do something cool, the Europeans have to find a way to one up it. This year’s theme may be choking, but man, did they take it to the next level.
A bit of context for those uneducated in overseas footie: Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is the best team from France’s top division of football (taking about the soccer kind of football now). Barcelona is debatably the best team in Spain’s top division of football, and could even be the best team in the world. The two were competing in Europe’s top level competition, the Champions League.
The two European giants battled in the round of 16 knockout stage, where teams would play two matches, and the team with the best aggregate score would move on. If the scores were tied, the winner would be the team with the most away goals. While many had pegged it as a grind of a win for Barcelona, PSG had a bit of surprise for them.
Barcelona came into the first match, which was at PSG’s field, slow and disappointing. PSG punished them heavily, taking the game 4–0. Things would have been a bit better if Barcelona could have at least scored an away goal, but they didn’t, so it was back home with a 4–0 deficit to overcome.
Barcelona needed four goals to force extra time, and five to win the game. Against a PSG squad, that was going to be a challenge. Then again, Barcelona has three of the—debatably—best players in the world in Neymar, Luis Suarez, and Lionel Messi. Scoring a couple shouldn’t be a problem for them, but scoring 4 or 5? That was asking a bit much.
Or maybe not. The Barcelona team got off to the start they needed. Two early goals gave them hope going into the second half. Then a beautiful goal gave them a 3–0 lead and put them 4–3 on aggregate. It was almost there. Then PSG did the only thing they needed to do, and scored a single away goal. Now Barcelona needed 3 goals to win. They couldn’t simply tie, or else they’d lose on away goals.
It was almost too late. But as is the theme of this piece, PSG just drank a bit too much water. Credit where credit is due, though, as Barcelona scored some beautiful goals en-route to their comeback. Three goals in seven minutes gave them the win, and gave PSG plenty of nightmare fuel.
All PSG needed to do against Barcelona was park the bus, and sit on their goal line. They had a four goal lead.
I’ll be honest, this choke makes me choked. I can’t even properly describe how amazing the comeback was, or how big of a bottle job PSG just let happen. Yeah, nothing is going to top this one. Someone might need to call the funeral home, I’m pretty sure PSG choked so hard they died out on the field. Doesn’t get much grimmer than that.