A sports season is defined by its greatest moments. Here are the five best from the 2016-17 NBA season.
When the 2016-17 NBA season began, there was widespread pessimism about how it would unfold. The league is more popular than it has ever been and will avoid a work stoppage even as the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires, but the storylines within the basketball games themselves seemed like they might run stale.
Former MVP Kevin Durant left last year’s Western Conference Finalist Oklahoma City Thunder to join a Golden State Warriors team on track (even without him) to battle the Cleveland Cavaliers in their third straight NBA Finals. The elite in each conference were not going to change much, and the same questions plagued each of them. Parity remained a question mark.
Those concerns have been answered; no one is worried any longer. The Year of the Triple-Double, combined with the rise of a new generation of young players and a larger group of contenders made 2016-17 a season to remember. Here are the five moments that stick out most of all:
5. Devin Booker scores 70
- Booker’s 70 came in a 130-120 Celtics victory toward the end of March in another lost Suns season.
- Jared Dudley, Tyler Ulis and others were basically puppets in The Booker Show, as the game unraveled into force-feeding in the fourth quarter.
- It is still one of the greatest accomplishments in recent basketball history.
The sheer difficulty and magnitude of putting up (and making) enough shots to get to 70 points is incredible. Likewise, the breadth of shot type that Booker put in (he was 21/40 from the field) was dazzling. Late one Friday night, every active League Pass account was tuned into an inconsequential blowout by a contender over a team at the top of the lottery.
We all wanted to watch a new star try on the superstar shoes for the first time. Phoenix fans will never forget that night, but neither, likely, will NBA fans when they look back on this season. Booker’s career is far from over, but this had the feel of the first milestone in a legacy bound to be full of them.
Remember too that Booker was basically playing backup point guard in this game, as the Suns were without Ronnie Price — he had six assists compared to only five turnovers. He used 50 percent of his team’s possessions, got to the line 26 times, and nearly brought Phoenix back from a 20-point deficit on the road against the East’s one-seed.
This game will be remembered.