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The best and worst in sports in 2016

Our 2016 Newsmakers: From Kobe Bryant’s career-ending high, to Maria Sharapova’s doping charge


 
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers drives on Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz in the fourth quarter at Staples Center. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Our annual Newsmakers issue highlights the year’s highlights, lowlights, major moments and most important people. Read our Newsmakers 2016 stories here, and read on to see which people, events and moments Maclean’s named as the best and worst of 2016 in sports.

THE BEST

Kobe Bryant

Bryant’s final game of his legendary career encapsulated everything basketball fans loved and loathed about the future hall of famer: an incredible 60 points from a career-high, ball-hogging 50 shots.

Theo Epstein 

He was general manager for the Boston Red Sox when they broke the “Curse of the Bambino” in 2004. This year, he put together the Chicago Cubs team that won their first World Series in 108 years—and put an end to the “Curse of the Billy Goat.”

Andre De Grasse

Usain Bolt’s feat of back-to-back-to-back gold medals in the 100-m dash may never be broken. What else can’t be broken? His bond with the heir apparent for the title of world’s fastest man, Canada’s De Grasse.

Canada's Rosie MacLennan, from King City, Ont., kisses her gold medal after winning the trampoline gymnastics competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics. (Ryan Remiorz/CP)

Rosie MacLennan kisses her gold medal after winning the trampoline gymnastics competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics. (Ryan Remiorz/CP)

Rosie MacLennan

After carrying out the flag for the opening ceremony, Rosie MacLennan won gold in Rio on the trampoline and became the first Canadian to defend an individual title at the Summer Games.

Sidney Crosby

He added another Stanley Cup ring, playoff MVP trophy and World Hockey Championship gold to his trophy case in 2016, which begs the question: who was the genius who left him off the NHL All-Star game roster?

Richard McLaren

Russia’s elaborate state-sponsored doping program was exposed by an independent investigation headed by the Western University law professor; 118 of Russia’s athletes were then banned from the Rio Olympics, plus its entire Paralympic team.

THE WORST

Maria Sharapova

She’s the richest athlete in the history of women’s sport, but her failed drug test for the banned substance Meldonium will keep her away from tennis—and the limelight—during a 15-month ban.

Hope Solo of the United States looks on during the penalty shoot out during the Women's Quarter Final match between United States and Sweden. (Steve Bardens/FIFA/Getty Images)

Hope Solo. (Steve Bardens/FIFA/Getty Images)

Hope Solo

After losing in a shootout to Sweden, the American goaltender said her opponents were “a bunch of cowards,” and “the best team did not win.” U.S. media opted for other words for Solo: an embarrassment to her team and her country.

Ken Pagan

A fly ball during the Blue Jays’ wild-card game turned into a city-wide manhunt when the Hamiltonian allegedly chucked a half-full beer, narrowly missing a Baltimore Orioles outfielder.

Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel on the sideline during the anthem prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel on the sideline during the anthem. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Colin Kaepernick

The NFL quarterback became a leader when he refused to stand for the U.S. national anthem to protest the treatment of African-Americans in the country. After the election, he said he hadn’t even bothered to go out and vote.

Jonathan Nicola

Catholic Central High School in Windsor, Ont., had a secret weapon on the basketball court in the six-foot-nine, 202-lb. player from South Sudan. The secret? Turns out he was actually 29 years old, not 17 as he claimed.

Ryan Lochte

The Team USA swimmer won sympathy by claiming he was robbed at gunpoint in Rio, but it was a lie. Turns out he got drunk, urinated on a local gas station wall and trashed a public washroom. He was later charged with filing a false police report.

SPORTS IN 2016, BY THE NUMBERS

22 – The number of Tennis Grand Slam singles championships Serena Williams has now won, tying Steffi Graf’s all-time record

8% – The percentage of Iceland’s population who had tickets to the Euro 2016 tournament in France, where Iceland beat England in a stunning upset

4 – The number of goals scored by Toronto Maple Leaf Auston Matthews in his NHL debut


 

The best and worst in sports in 2016

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