While some may disagree, I think the ESPYS is one of the coolest nights in the entire sports year. The best athletes in world, especially American ones, all together for a red carpet event to celebrate the biggest players and moments in sports since last July. The show, however, has gone a bit downhill in the last couple of years. While the presentation of the Jimmy V award is always great, as well as some of the other things involving athletes, the show is not nearly what is used to be. And that’s not even to mention the horrific presentation involving Caitlyn Jenner two years ago. The show has become much more about stories and skits. Best Game and Best Team, two of the best awards, aren’t even presented on air anymore. It’s is undoubtedly not as good as it used to be, but that can be said about almost every show on ESPN. That all being said, here are my picks for who SHOULD win the (biggest) awards, and who WILL win the awards. Some of these will be the same, but there’s no doubt based on popularity that some deserving athletes won’t win.
Best Championship Performance
Tom Brady, Shay Knighten (Oklahoma Women’s Softball), DeShaun Watson, Kevin Durant
Who Should Win: Kevin Durant
I hate to say it, and I still won’t give K(owar)D credit because the Warriors easily could have won without him, but this one is a no-brainer. Durant cleared any question if he was tough enough to close out a championship with his dominant performance from start to finish. Tom Brady and DeShaun Watson’s performances were clutch and will always be remembered, but they did not dominate from start to finish like Durant did.
Who Will Win: Kevin Durant
Best Breakthrough Athlete
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Laurie Hernandez (Gymnastics), Aaron Judge, Dak Prescott, Christian Pulisic
Who Should Win: Tie- Dak Prescott and Aaron Judge
I was able to put all bias aside here. While I don’t hate Judge (yet), I hate the Yankees and of course love Dak and the Boys. Dak Prescott put together an unbelievable season as a 4th round rookie quarterback, leading the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC. Playing QB for the Cowboys is as hard as any position in sports, and Prescott was as poised and cool as any rookie we have ever seen. As for Judge, he has been absolutely unbelievable in the first half so far for the Yankees. While you can probably argue Judge is more dominant of a baseball player than Dak has been in football, it’s hard to use this argument when you are comparing different sports. Just like the NFL Rookie of the Year, Prescott should truly split this award.
Who Will Win: Dak Prescott
While this is out of Judge’s control, a slight advantage Prescott has is that he did it over a full season, and his team had the conference’s top record. Judge has shown no signs of slowing down, but it is only the All-Star break, and the Yankees have really struggled of late. And you can’t say Judge is overachieving because of this, but if you want a bigger sample size for him, it should be noted he struggled mightily when he came up at the end of 2016. In addition, many of these big awards tend to go to football and basketball players because the leagues are more popular and more fans will be voting.
Best Record-Breaking Performance
Bill Belichick, Michael Phelps, Diana Taurasi, Russell Westbrook
Who Should Win: Russsell Westbrook
Westbrook, en route to his first MVP Award, was a statistical monster in his first season without Kevin Durant. He broke the record for most triple doubles in a season with 42. It’s hard to believe he only did it half of his games because it truly felt like he was doing it every single night, win or lose. While Belichick is arguably the greatest coach in the Super Bowl era, I’ll always give an accomplishment award to a player over a coach
Who Will Win: Russell Westbrook
Clemson defeats Alabama, Denis Istomin defeats Novak Djokovic (Australian Open), Mississippi State defeats Connecticut (NCAAW)
Who Should Win: Mississippi State defeats Connecticut
This was one of the few times I have ever enjoyed watching Women’s Basketball. UConn has been the most dominant program in the sport, and had a 111-game winning streak going back to 2013. Not only did were they upset, but they lost in as dramatic of fashion as it gets. While the College Football Playoff National Championship was arguably a better game, this was clearly the much bigger upset…
Who Will Win: Clemson defeats Alabama
…but I think the popularity of NCAAF vs. NCAAW will lead to this game getting more votes in the end.
World Series Game 7, Super Bowl LI, Federer vs. Nadal (Australian Open)
Who Should Win: Cubs vs. Indians, World Series Game 7
This was definitely a tough one, but I feel this game was overall a better one than the Super Bowl. It was much more back and forth, and of course had much more of a historical impact. The Super Bowl was one of the greatest games ever, but it was completely dominated by one of the two teams for its entirety, and it’s historical impact was not the same going in.
Who Will Win: Patriots vs. Falcons, Super Bowl LI
But I think the NFL’s popularity and the fact that the Super Bowl is one of the biggest sporting events of the year worldwide will get this game the votes it needs (and if you think I’m showing any highlight videos of the Warriors or Patriots, just close this blog now).
Best Comeback Athlete
Matt Bush, Roger Federer, Jordy Nelson, Candace Parker
Who Should Win: Matt Bush
While this isn’t exactly a feel-good story, it’s pretty incredible that in 2017, Matt Bush is a pitcher for the Texas Rangers. Bush was originally a Shortstop, and the No. 1 overall pick in 2004 by his hometown San Diego Padres. Bush never made the majors though, as he was a bust of a player, and eventually converted to a pitcher. He was also involved in multiple legal issues, which led to him being sentenced to 51 months in jail in 2012. Since he made his major league debut as a reliever in 2016, he has posted a 2.85 ERA. In almost any scenario, I’ll choose an off the field issue over a player who was injured to receive this award.
Who Will Win: Jordy Nelson
The reason I think Nelson will win is because the average American sports fan does not watch Bush or Parker, and Federer is a nominee just because he had not won a Grand Slam title in 5 years. A prime example of popularity winning over the better comeback was in 2014. Russell Westbrook won the season after which he tore his meniscus, while Dom Moore, who sat out the 2012-13 NHL season to tend to his sick wife, who wound up passing away from cancer, did not win despite being a vital piece to a New York Rangers team that went to the Stanley Cup Final. Popularity is a key factor in award shows where the fans vote.
Cubs, Clemson Football, Warriors, Penguins, Patriots, South Carolina Women’s Basketball, US Women’s Gymnastics
Who Should Win: Golden State Warriors
I mean, this better happen when you take the best regular season team of all time and add the 2nd best player in the NBA.
Who Will Win: Golden State Warriors
I’m really not excited to see these assholes’ faces all night tomorrow.
Best Female Athlete
Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky, Candace Parker, Serena Williams
Who Should Win: Serena Williams
Serena is deserving, but she has the Lebron characteristic that whether she was the best that year or not, she is the best female athlete in the world.
Who Will Win: Serena Williams
Best Male Athlete
Sidney Crosby, Kris Bryant, Michael Phelps, Russell Westbrook
Who Should Win: Russell Westbrook
Lebron James should win this award, but they have to let others win sometimes. Westbrook was by far the most dominant athlete of this group this past season, and clearly is the deserving winner.
Who Will Win: Russell Westbrook
Let’s hope tomorrow night is more about the athletes and less about ESPN’s poltical agendas.