Miami's Five Biggest Sports Stories of 2016

For Miami sports fans, 2016 has been a trying year with some of the lowest lows imaginable, moments likely to make national lists of "worst sports disasters." But don't forget it's also been a year when we've seen a lot of change, and some of it has been unquestionably for the best.

So let's take a look back at the good, the bad, and the ugly sports moments that defined 2016.

1. Chris Bosh battles blood clots yet again, ends his Miami Heat career.

In February, just as Chris Bosh was about to take part in the NBA All-Star Game, he got the most devastating news of his career: For the second consecutive season, he would be ruled out of the weekend festivities because of a mysterious pain in his calf. After returning from being sidelined the remainder of the previous season because of blood clots forming in his lungs, Bosh was at first hopeful the clots hadn't returned. They had. His season was over. His Miami Heat career was over. His NBA career could very well be over. All as he was set to make his 11th All-Star appearance.

The news was especially devastating because Bosh had shown he was his old self on the court following his first clot scare, averaging 19.1 points and 7.4 rebounds at the time while shooting a team-high 36.5 percent from the three-point line. Bosh still hopes to make a comeback in the NBA in 2017, but the odds are stacked against him ever playing basketball again.

2. Dwyane Wade leaves the Miami Heat for the Chicago Bulls.

After spending his 13-year NBA career with the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade took his talents to the Windy City and the Chicago Bulls this offseason, shocking Heat fans and changing the landscape of the franchise for the foreseeable future. Wade scored more than 20,000 points, was selected to 12 All-Star teams, and won three NBA championships in a Miami uniform, but this past offseason, he was gone, leaving for a two-year deal with the Bulls that will pay him upward of $47 million.

Wade's departure has become an annual flirtation over the years, but no one expected it to happen this past offseason. No one knew just how sour the relationship between Wade and Pat Riley had become. When push came to shove this past July, Wade decided his legacy in Miami would have to take a back seat to his pride and bank account being massaged in his native Chicago.

3. Jose Fernandez is killed in a boating accident off Miami Beach.

All of South Florida woke up on a Sunday morning this past September to the most devastating news a fan could imagine: Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez and two others had been killed in a boating accident on the black rocks of the Government Cut jetty off Miami Beach. Around 3 a.m., the Coast Guard arrived on the scene to find Jose Fernandez's 32-foot boat upside-down on the rocks. Fernandez and his passengers had crashed just a few miles from American Social Bar & Kitchen, where they had been drinking earlier.

As the surreal news was confirmed throughout the day, Miami Marlins fans began to flock to Marlins Park to pay their respects, drop off flowers, and pour their emotions on the steps of a ballpark that would normally be vacant that time of day. The loss rocked not only South Florida but the entire sports world. In the days that followed, athletes in every sport paid their respects to the Cuban-born superstar. Later, tests would reveal that Fernandez had cocaine and alcohol in his system at the time of the crash, though there's still dispute about who was piloting the boat.

4. The Miami Dolphins make an improbable playoff run.

At one point in 2016, the Dolphins were a 1-4 football team, and that sole win came against a (still) winless Cleveland Browns squad that all but handed the Dolphins the game. Since that day in early October, though, the Dolphins have lost exactly one football game and handed out an abundance of ass-kickings. They've won eight of nine games, and now the Fins basically need only a victory against either the Buffalo Bills this week or the New England Patriots next week to make the playoffs.

For most franchises, this is a ho-hum December event, but for a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since 2008 and hasn't won a playoff game since 2001, it's big news. First-year head coach Adam Gase has taken a dead-fish franchise and turned it into the talk of the town in 2016. It's been one helluva story.

5. March Richt replaces Al Golden as head coach of the Miami Hurricanes.

It was a year of change in South Florida, and the Miami Hurricanes kept with the trend. After firing Al Golden late last year, the Hurricanes were able to land former Georgia Bulldogs head football coach Mark Richt. His first season in Miami has had its ups and downs, but overall everyone seems to believe the program is headed in the right direction. What's more, Richt is a former Cane who has already proven he can connect with the South Florida community much better than New Jersey native Golden ever did (or even attempted to).

Though the Richt hire didn't exactly pay dividends in 2016, it's a huge move that should create big stories in years to come. Let's hope the Hurricanes top 2017's list for all the right reasons.