ESPY Play of the Year 2012: Why Christian Watford Won the Wrong Award

Tim KeeneyContributor IJuly 12, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 11:  Christian Watford wins award for Best Play  poses in the press room during the 2012 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Christian Watford's buzzer-beater against the University of Kentucky deserved an award at the ESPYs. It just didn't deserve the Play of the Year, which happened to be the one it got. 

The award Watford did deserve, of course, was the one for "Best Moment."

Was the Indiana forward's three-pointer to beat No. 1 Kentucky a remarkable play? Absolutely. But take another look at the play and ask yourself, "what makes this play so special?". 

Is it the three-pointer itself? No way. It's the fact that Indiana, a huge underdog, upset the best team in the nation, a team that just so happened to be one of Indiana's biggest rivals. It's the fact that it was in front of a packed Assembly Hall, and the videos of the place erupting send chills down your spine. It's the fact that Watford's three can be looked at as the moment that Indiana University basketball (what's bigger than basketball in Indiana? Nothing) was officially "back" after years of mediocrity. 

It's the moment. 

Now take into account the other plays that were up for Watford's award.

First, you have Joe Adams' punt return for a touchdown:

How often do you see something like that? Adams broke about 19 tackles, got away from Tennessee's entire punt coverage, back-tracked and eventually wiggled his way out of traffic, down the sideline for the touchdown.

Usually when players try to pull off what Adams did, they end up with a 15-yard loss and a spot on the bench.

The play was ridiculous, but the moment didn't line up with Watford's. It was simply a regular season game against Tennessee, a matchup Arkansas would go on to win by 42 points.

Then, you have Derrick Salberg's catch:

This, I can guarantee, you have never seen before and you will likely never lay your eyes upon something like this again.

The kid literally jumped over the fence in high-jump fashion, twisting his shoulder in what looks like an unnatural way, going full extension to make the catch. Catches like those, even without a fence in play, don't come along too often. 

But it's just a community college player. The stakes aren't as high as Watford's shot. 

When it comes down to it, the ESPYs just need to define the awards better and put the right plays in the right categories. They didn't do that with this year's nominees, and unfortunately, someone deserving missed out on an award.

What Watford did is a play that is seen in college basketball three, four or five times per year. What Adams and Salberg (my pick for the winner, for whatever it's worth) did are plays you might never see again. 

The magnitude, pressure, story, chill factor of Watford's shot are all bigger though. That doesn't make it the best play, but it certainly means it was the best moment. 

And, hey, there's an award for that.