ESPY Awards 2012 Nominees: Kentucky Wildcats Deserve Best Team Honors
The past year has provided sports fans with a ton of memorable teams, but only one of them stands out among the rest.
With the ESPY’s only two days away, I’m here to tell you that it’s the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team that deserves the nod over the rest of a very crowded field.
The Wildcats have earned the ESPY award for Best Team of the Year over the Miami Heat, New York Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Kings, Alabama Crimson Tide (football) and Baylor Bears (women’s basketball) for the following reasons:
Kentucky was 38-2, with a perfect 16-0 mark in SEC play.
One of their losses came on a buzzer-beater three by Indiana (a loss they would avenge in the tournament), and the other came in a meaningless contest against Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament final. I say meaningless because Kentucky had already secured a No. 1 seed and didn’t need to win the game.
The Cardinals barely snuck in the playoffs, the Kings were the No. 8 seed, the Giants were 9-7 in the regular season and the Heat finished with the fourth best regular season record.
If you are going by the full body of work in a season, only the unblemished Baylor women’s basketball team at 40-0 can be in the same conversation.
The most famous unibrow in the country went from a lanky unknown to the National Player of the Year in the span of four months.
He averaged 14.3 points while shooting an unheard of 64 percent from the floor, while grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking 4.6 shots per game. He led the nation in blocks by a whopping 31.
There was no doubt he was the best player in the country this year and maybe in the last decade.
Now he is considered the savior for an NBA franchise and looks poised to have a long and prosperous career after being selected No. 1 overall.
No team featured a breakout star like Davis among the nominees aside from goalie Jonathan Quick of the Kings.
Despite being one of the most inexperienced teams in the tournament, the Wildcats steamrolled through the competition in route to six wins by an average margin of just under 12 points per game.
It didn’t matter if they were playing a sharp-shooting Indiana team or a defensive-oriented Louisville squad, the ‘Cats were able to adjust and win comfortably.
Their eight-point win over Louisville in the Final Four was the closest game of their championship run.
Draft Day Supremacy
One of the best ways to measure just how truly talented a college team was is by looking at how many of their players were selected in the draft.
Not only did the Wildcats make history by watching Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist get selected with the first two picks, but they had a ridiculous six players (Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller) selected throughout the night. Every major contributor from that team was deemed NBA-ready.
There are going to be reminders of the 2011-12 Kentucky season littered throughout the NBA for well over the next decade.
It truly was a run for the ages for John Calipari and his crew.
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