Could 2017 end up being a better sports year than 2016? Of course it could. Never say never in life, even more so in sports.
So it is entirely possible that the Knicks will win the NBA Finals in Game 7 over the Warriors when Carmelo Anthony removes his headband and uses it to slingshot the ball from halfcourt at the buzzer.
Or that a hologram of Babe Ruth will emerge from a cornfield in the Yankee Stadium bullpen with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series, the Yankees down a run, and be struck out by Matt Harvey.
Or that Christian Hackenberg will complete a game-winning Hail Mary to Brandon Marshall in Super Bowl LII after Odell Beckham Jr., helping with coverage, tips the ball up with one hand rather than knocking it down.
But barring pretty much all of the above happening . . . no.
No, no, no, no, no. Nope.
Super Bowl LI on Sunday night was the clincher: The 2016-17 year in major American team sports, which ended with the Patriots’ 34-28 victory over the Falcons, was indisputably, hands-down, case-closed, no-debate, don’t-even-bother the best ever. By far.
And barring a seemingly inconceivable confluence of events, it will remain so for the lifetimes of those of us currently breathing, or at least old enough to be reading this column.
Again, never say never. Something better might come along in 2126, when, say, the Islanders christen the new Montauk Dome, the arena that finally gets them out of Brooklyn, with their first Stanley Cup since 1980.
But for now let’s just savor what we have, and be glad to be alive right now.
Loyal readers might recall that four weeks ago I wrote a column in the afterglow of Clemson’s victory over Alabama in the College Football Playoff final that led with these words: You’re on the clock, Super Bowl LI!
The point was that 2016-17 already had been arguably the best ever for the five championship rounds that matter most to Americans.
It began at NRG Stadium in Houston in April when Kris Jenkins’ three-pointer at the buzzer gave Villanova a 77-74 victory over North Carolina in the NCAA men’s basketball final.
It continued in June when LeBron James led the Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals and won Game 7 on the road against a Warriors team that had the best regular-season record ever.
It continued in October, when the Cubs came back from a 3-1 deficit in the World Series and won a wild Game 7 on the road, in 10 innings, for their first championship since before the NFL, NBA or NHL existed.
It continued in January, when Clemson beat Alabama, 35-31, on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson to Hunter Renfrow with one second remaining.
Then it was back to NRG Sunday for the grandest finale of all.
Plenty of other sports things occurred in 2016, a Summer Olympics year that delivered, from Michael Phelps to Simone Biles and beyond. Jimmie Johnson won his seventh NASCAR title and the Penguins won another Stanley Cup.
Internationally, the craziest story of all was epic longshot Leicester City winning the English Premier League soccer title.
All that remained to wrap a bow around the sports year was a classic Super Bowl. We got one, and then some.
The only part of the narrative the Patriots messed up was the one involving the end of long droughts.
After Villanova won it all for the first time since 1985 and the Cavaliers for the first time ever and the Cubs for the first time since 1908 and Clemson for the first time since 1981, it would have been a nice touch for the Falcons to win their first Lombardi Trophy.
The Patriots have won the big prize before, as you might have heard or read.
But that’s OK. At least I got some of the narrative right in early January, long before the Super Bowl matchup was known. I predicted the Falcons would lead in the final minute of regulation time before blowing the game . . . to the Chiefs.
Hey, close enough.
Many Americans said not-so-nice things about 2016, what with its high level of political contentiousness and its unusual number of celebrity deaths.
But for sports fans, especially those of us with no rooting interest in North Carolina basketball, the Warriors, the Indians, Alabama football or the Falcons, it was glorious.
Let’s sum this up by going to the WABAC machine to quote Rangers announcer Sam Rosen from 1994, a heck of a sports year in its own right:
This one will last a lifetime.