To celebrate the New Year, we're taking a look back at some of the more memorable moments to happen in 2018.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Witnessing LeBron's eighth-straight NBA Finals appearance.
It wasn't just that he did it, it was how he did it. James essentially ended the season with an entirely different team than he began with - a roster that was guaranteed just one round of home-court advantage after hobbling to the East's No. 4 seed.
Seeding didn't stop the Cavs from getting past the Pacers and Raptors in seven and four games, respectively. LeBron averaged 34.3 points through the first 11 postseason games, scoring over 40 points on four occasions.
It appeared Cleveland finally met its match when Boston won Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals by an average of 19 points, but LeBron's 27-point performance in Game 3, 44-point performance in Game 4 and a 46-point performance in Game 6 set up a Game 7 in which anything goes.
James delivered a virtuoso 35-point, 15-rebound, nine-assist performance in Game 7, willing the Cavs to the Finals in an 87-79 slugfest. The play that will forever stand out to me is his dagger and-one in the open floor late in the fourth quarter. Despite a pretty hard foul from Marcus Morris and a goaltend from Jaylen Brown, James' layup still went in - this served as a reminder that if something is meant to happen, it will - regardless of obstacles or setbacks.
That lasting image is fitting for LeBron's improbable run, something we might never see again.
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): The end of the Warriors-Cavaliers rivalry.
When LeBron James left to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, it signalled the end of one of the best rivalries in NBA history. Even though it only lasted four years, the rivalry is unmatched in the sense that no other teams have met four straight times in the Finals. In fact, no other teams in NBA history have even met three straight times in the Finals.
Some would argue that it was never that close, to begin with, that the Cavaliers were never truly on Golden State's level. To those, I would argue that the Warriors were so desperate to beat James that even after going 73-9 prior to falling in 7 games in the 2016 Finals, they still felt the need to pursue Kevin Durant in order to take back the throne. That's a level of respect reserved for only the fiercest of competitors.
Some would argue that it was more about James than about Cleveland. Try telling that to Kyrie Irving. Or Kevin Love. Or J.R. Smith, both in his finest hour of celebrating without a shirt and in a moment to forget at the end of Game 1 in 2018. Tell that to the Halloween drumset or Tyronn Lue's cash placed in the Warriors' locker room after Game 5 in 2016.
I'll most remember 2018 for signalling the end of a truly memorable rivalry.
James McKern (@jLmcKern): It's hard for me to go past Boston's Eastern Conference Playoff push, along with most people I counted them out when Kyrie Irving was ruled out. But under the master that is Brad Stevens, the team rallied and had me believing a Finals berth was up for the taking. LeBron however had other ideas.
Of course that for me wasn't the biggest and most memorable moment for 2018, instead, that award goes to an Eastern Conference rival in the Philadelphia 76ers and their coming of age season in 2017/18. The team which had languished for so long as they continued to "Trust the Process" had finally blossomed into a threat to take the Eastern Conference crown. NBA Down Under was already a thriving business, but the explosion of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and the 76ers took the NBA in Australia to unparalleled levels.
We all believed Simmons would become a star in the NBA, but what he delivered in his rookie season blew away even the most outlandish of predictions and had the entire nation waiting with baited breath to see what he would deliver next.
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): My biased opinion would say the Boston Celtics' Eastern Conference Playoff run because everyone counted them out once Kyrie Irving went down - and I'll never forget the emergence of Jayson Tatum, who looks like he'll be the next Celtics legend. Seeing guys like Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart take their game to a high enough level that it put the C's one game away from de-throning LeBron James' run in the East gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
But on that note, with bias aside, it'll be LeBron James signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. James has ruled the NBA since the day he entered the league and every move he makes could be calculated for on the Richter scale. Taking his talents to South Beach altered the sports universe and the return to Cleveland made a decent splash, too. It had been rumoured he could end up in Los Angeles, but I never truly thought that would be his next move.
I never expected to get used to seeing LeBron in a Lakers jersey but oddly enough, about half way through this season it just seems like it was meant to be. Only time will tell how he's remembered as a Laker, but signing there this offseason will be the most memorable NBA moment of 2018 for me.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): How can I not pick Kawhi Leonard being acquired by the Raptors? I mean I'm a Canadian, I've followed the Raptors since their inception and they picked up a top-five player in the league. Times like this were unthinkable prior to this season. Damon Stoudamire, Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, they all left and while DeMar DeRozan wanted to be here and was the Raptors' franchise star for many years, he was never a top-five player, not even top ten.
So, getting Kawhi was a whole new world for basketball fans in Canada. Now a third of the way into the season it feels like Kawhi was always a Raptor. He doesn't look weird in the jersey and it's hard to remember what it was like when he wasn't around. That's the short-term memory loss of a sports fan these days, but if he decides to play elsewhere in the offseason - which by the way is still the elephant in the room we've kind of forgotten about - it might be back to wondering what it's like to have a bonified superstar on the team again. For now, let's just soak in the joy of what getting Kawhi in a Raptors' uniform meant to the franchise and its fan base that is dying to see a parade down Yonge Street.