The 8.5 sports stories that already lit up the internet in 2017

Patriots fans celebrate the Super Bowl.
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Were at the halfway point of 2017, so all this week Mashable entertainment will be rolling out our 8.5 (Get it, half of 17?) picks for the best of the year so far! in movies, TV, music, and more. Its our eight best picks for you, along with a bonus choice that, while not strictly one of the greats, deserves a guilty pleasure mention. Enjoy.

Sports are spectacle, and this year hasn’t disappointed.

The year is only half over, but 2017 has already brought no shortage of moments, characters, and storylines that left fans picking their collective jaw up off the floor.

The memories we’ve compiled below might bring you warm feelings. They might trigger unpleasant recollections. They might make you chuckle with delight, or roll your eyes in disgust.

But no matter the reactions they induce, these are the sports stories that have dominated the internet so far in 2017. Without further ado, and presented in no particular order, here they are.

1. A Super Bowl shocker

Tom Brady celebrates with his wife, daughter, and mother.

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

The Atlanta Falcons had it. They were up 28-3. They were soooo close to glory! Then they blew it.

The Falcons allowed the New England Patriots, who boast several ties to Donald Trump and represent an evil NFL empire of sorts, to mount the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history for a shocking win.

The unbelievable outcome was so traumatic it even had many folks experiencing presidential election flashbacks.

2. The Warriors’ debated dominance

Champs.

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Are the super-stacked Golden State Warriors good for basketball? Are they bad for basketball?

Are they … pick a stance, any stance, and you’ll find someone with a hot-take opinion to share.

And share their feelings about Golden State is exactly what people did online, whether fans on Twitter or columnists on major websites.

This much is beyond debate, however: The Warriors were utterly dominant while winning their second title in three years, and the sports world couldn’t look away.

3. LaVar Ball, media catnip

Ballin’ outta control.

Image: SZENES/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

If you follow sports and haven’t heard the name by now, chances are you live in a bunker. LaVar’s not an athlete. He’s not a coach. He’s not a team owner.

He’s an NBA rookie’s dad is what he is.

But the media still hasn’t seemed to tire of his bombastic personality ever since he started laying the schtick on thick during March Madness.

4. Mayweather vs. McGregor

It’s finally on.

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Will this boxing match between a 40-year-old pugilist and a 28-year-old mixed martial artist actually be any good? Or will it be a bore? That’s what everyone’s wondering after the fight was finally announced in June after months of anticipation.

We can say two things for certain, though: It will be hyped, and McGregor has already landed some solid early blows via social media.

5. Clemson’s Alabama upset

An Alabama player walks off the field while Clemson celebrates.

Image: Bazemore/AP/REX/Shutterstock

From a huge underdog upset to an absurdly buff ref, Clemson’s 35-31 win over Alabama for the college football championship truly had it all.

6. Tim Tebow’s baseball dream

He’s a baseball player now.

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We all rolled our eyes when the New York Mets signed Tim Tebow to a minor league baseball contract. Then he homered in his first at-bat.

We wish we were kidding.

7. Kaepernick’s extended unemployment

Kaepernick’ s keeping busy, though.

Image: Tony Avelar/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Why can’t Colin Kaepernick get a job? As more and more quarterbacks with less impressive resumes find NFL rosters, Kaepernick remains unemployed, leading many to hypothesize he’s effectively being black-balled from the league after protesting during pre-game national anthems last season.

Meanwhile, Kaepernick won’t stop committing random acts of kindness, making his most vociferous critics look a wee bit foolish.

8. 3-on-3 hoops is having a moment

Pickup hoops in China.

Image: Reynolds/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

First, Ice Cube launched an awesome-looking 3-on-3 league for retired NBA antiheroes. Then 3-on-3 hoops was officially added to the program for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. That’s right, the classic playground version of basketball is officially having a moment.

8.5. “TAKE THAT FOR DATA!”

Thank you, Coach Fizdale.

Image: Mcafee/CSM/REX/Shutterstock

When an NBA coach coined this immortal line after a playoff loss, it was truly a gift from the meme gods.

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