ESPY Awards 2012: Jeremy Lin and 3 Most Undeserving Winners

Oren FriedmanCorrespondent IIJuly 12, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 11:  NBA player Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks accepts the Best Breakthrough Athlete award onstage during the 2012 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The winners of the 2012 ESPY Awards were well-deserved for the most part.

The greatest male athlete alive, LeBron James, did the heavy lifting and took home three ESPYs, including the awards for Best Male Athlete, Best Championship Performance and Best NBA Player.

The eighth seeded Los Angeles Kings took home best upset for their epic playoff run that culminated in a Stanley Cup Finals victory over the New Jersey Devils, and Christian Watford took home the award for Best Play with his buzzer beating three pointer that had the Hoosiers knocking off the undefeated No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats.

Looking back on the awards suggests that there were still some deserving winners that left empty handed.

Here are three winners that should not have taken home the hardware at the 2012 ESPY Awards.


Best Breakthrough Athlete: Jeremy Lin

New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin should not have beaten out New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski for this award.

Linsanity dominated Manhattan when Lin's game took off.

A home win over Kobe Bryant and the Lakers helped his case for the award, as did a cold-blooded, game-winning three in Toronto.

His career year of 14.6 PPG and 6.2 APG was impressive, especially considering that he was picked up off of waivers.

Still, the numbers don't lie.

Lin played in only 35 games, couldn't handle the pressure of playing against the big boys, and sat out with injury while the Knicks were embarrassed by the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

On the other hand, Gronkowski was a total beast from opening day until the final moments of the Pats' Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants.

Last season Gronkowski set the tight end record for single season touchdowns with 17, and most reception yards for a tight end in a single season with 1,327. 

Even more impressive, Gronk shared the field with fellow New England tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Lin was an upset. The award belonged to Gronkowski.


Best Game: San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

The 49ers incredible NFC Divisional playoff win over the Saints was nail-biting down to the last seconds.

A high scoring shootout in the bay saw all-world quarterback Drew Brees dueling with breakout star Alex Smith.

Brees threw for 461 yards and four scores, while Smith tossed for 299 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning pass to tight end Vernon Davis

Thirty-four combined fourth quarter points and some late game heroics had San Francisco escape with an exhilarating 36-32 victory.

While all of this was exciting, it was only the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.

To put this in perspective, it would be similar to the Thunder beating the Lakers in dramatic fashion in the NBA Western Conference semifinals.

While the drama and pressure might have been high for a divisional round playoff game, the win would have been much more thrilling had it happened a round later.

The Rangers vs. Cardinals World Series Game 6 should have won this award.

Facing elimination, the Cardinals were down to the last strike twice when David Freese came to the rescue in the bottom of the ninth and again with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th.

St. Louis promptly rode the momentum of Game 6 to a 6-2 Game 7 victory over Josh Hamilton and the Rangers.

The Cardinals were robbed last night. Freese's World Series heroics should have given him and St. Louis the ESPY for best game.


Best Team: Miami Heat

How the Heat won the ESPY for best team is still a head scratcher.

While Miami utilized much more than the Big 3 in its Finals victory over the Thunder, the Heat were just LeBron James and Dwyane Wade for much of the playoffs.

When Chris Bosh went down with an abdomen injury in the second round of the playoffs, the Heat relied on James and Wade to put up big numbers.

The duo's most impressive game came when they combined for 70 points, as the Heat won Game 4 in Indiana to knot the series up at two games apiece.

After two more wins against the Pacers, Miami moved on to the conference finals to face rivals Boston Celtics.

Down 3-2 and facing elimination in a Game 6 road game at the Boston Garden, LeBron James went off. Going 19-26 from the field, James put up a masterful performance with 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in a resounding 98-79 victory.

Up to that point, the playoffs belonged to LeBron James with help from Dwyane Wade.

Ultimately, the Heat showed some team qualities, relying on role players Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller and Shane Battier for big games in the Finals.

Nevertheless, this was not the best team in sports. It wasn't even the best team in the NBA.

The Los Angeles Kings should have won this award.

The Kings used a team effort throughout the playoffs to bring the Stanley Cup to Los Angeles.

From Jeff Carter to Anze Kopitar, to Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick, the Kings relied on all their players to contribute in one way or another.

They looked like a team on and off the ice.

Miami have all the sex appeal to make them the most provocative and most scrutinized team in sports. Voters may have been compelled to vote for them once LBJ finally won a title.

Yet when it all boils down, the Heat stole an award that didn't belong to them.


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