ESPYs 2013: Grading the Final Results for Every Category
The 2013 ESPY Awards concluded on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, celebrating some of the greatest athletes on the planet.
From football to basketball to skateboarding, a wide variety of sports were represented during the ceremony. A certain someone earned three individual awards and was part of two team awards.
Here's a look at my grades for each selection on Wednesday.
Best Male Athlete: LeBron James
A case could be made for Adrian Peterson after tearing up the NFL after tearing his ACL, but it's hard to ignore how electric LeBron James can be on the court. He's undeniably the best basketball player in the world, and he's won back-to-back championships with the Miami Heat.
Best Female Athlete: Serena Williams
Anybody who has watched Serena Williams play knows how dominant she can be on the court. At times, she looks like a woman among girls. Williams won the 2012 U.S. Open and 2013 French Open, as well as singles and doubles titles in the 2012 London Olympics.
Best Breakthrough Athlete: Colin Kaepernick
I probably would have given this one to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, but it's not like Colin Kaepernick was a bad choice, either. The dual-threat quarterback led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl last season, compiling 15 total touchdowns in 13 games.
Best Team: Miami Heat
I would have gone with the Alabama football team here. The Crimson Tide lost just one game last season and uprooted Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game, 42-14. The Heat aren't a bad pick, though. They were worthy of the selection, winning 66 games in the regular season before capturing the NBA title.
Best Game: Heat over Spurs—Game 6 NBA Finals
The Heat's come-from-behind win over the Spurs in Game 6 shook the basketball world. Down by five points with 28 seconds left, the Heat forced overtime on a Ray Allen three-pointer with five ticks to go. LeBron James posted 32 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, three steals and one block in the win. Tim Duncan racked up 30 points and 17 rebounds in a losing effort.
Best Championship Performance: LeBron James
Game 6 wasn't LeBron James' only big performance of the NBA Finals. Far from it. The 28-year-old averaged 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.3 steals and 0.9 blocks in the finals. Those are monstrous numbers, especially in a championship series. I can't argue with this pick.
Best Upset: Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown
Florida Gulf Coast was a No. 15 seed in the 2013 NCAA tournament. Georgetown, a No. 2 seed, was considered one of the top teams in college basketball. That all changed when the Eagles soared over the Hoyas on March 22, 78-68. Florida Gulf Coast went on to defeat No. 7 seed San Diego State and became the first No. 15 seed in NCAA tournament history to advance to the Sweet 16.
Best Moment: Jack Hoffman Scoring a Touchdown in Nebraska Spring Game
At seven years of age and battling brain cancer, Jack Hoffman ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown in Nebraska's spring game and was mobbed by the players. It was a heartwarming moment that may never be forgotten at Nebraska.
Best Play: Jadeveon Clowney Hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith
Just watch the video. The end.
Best Coach/Manager: Rick Pitino
After winning the national championship with Louisville, Rick Pitino deserved this award. The legendary coach led the Cardinals over Duke, Cinderella team Wichita State and Michigan in the final three games of the season. For all the talk about Louisville's defense, it's worth mentioning that the team ranked 22nd in the nation in offensive efficiency, per TeamRankings.com.
Best NBA Player: LeBron James
This was an obvious selection, considering LeBron averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.7 steals in the regular season before averaging 25.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.8 steals in the playoffs. He shot 49 percent from the floor and 38 percent from beyond the arc in the postseason.
Best NFL Player: Adrian Peterson
It's hard to question this pick. After tearing his ACL in December against the Washington Redskins, Adrian Peterson returned to the field on September 9 to start the 2012-13 NFL campaign. All he did during the season was rush for 2,097 yards—second most of all time—and 12 touchdowns while catching 40 balls for 217 yards and a touchdown.
Best NHL Player: Sidney Crosby
Widely regarded as the best player in hockey, Sidney Crosby ranked third in points last season with 56 despite playing in only 36 games. Martin St. Louis (60 points), Steven Stamkos (57) and Alex Ovechkin (56) all played in 48 games.
Best MLB Player: Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera won the American League Triple Crown last season, hitting .330 with 44 home runs, 139 RBI and 109 runs. This season, he's hitting .365 with 30 home runs, 95 RBI and 73 runs...in 93 games.
Best Record-Breaking Performance: Michael Phelps
When Phelps become the most decorated Olympian of all time, it's hard to vote against him. He finished his career with 18 Olympic gold medals. When you are the most decorated athlete among the top athletes in the world, you have accomplished something.
Best Male College Athlete: Johnny Manziel
This was another selection that was hard to disagree with. Johnny Manziel passed for more than 3,700 yards with 26 touchdowns to nine interceptions while rushing for more than 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns en route to the Heisman Trophy last season. Did I mention he also defeated Alabama and led Texas A&M to a 41-13 victory over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl?
Best Female College Athlete: Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner closed out her career at Baylor as the NCAA's all-time leader in blocked shots while ranking second in career points. Like Serena Williams, at times—in fact, most of the time—she appeared to be on an entirely different level than her competition.
Best Male Golfer: Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods deservedly won this award. He posted nine top-10 finishes and three victories on the PGA Tour last year. He already has five top-10 finishes and four victories this year. And don't look now, but Woods is in contention for the British Open championship after the first day at Muirfield.
Best Female Golfer: Stacy Lewis
I don't want to take anything away from Stacy Lewis—the reigning LPGA Player of the Year—but Inbee Park is the No. 1 player on the LPGA Tour right now, posting eight top-10 finishes and six victories in 2013 alone. She has won all three majors thus far in 2013. That's after notching 12 top-10 finishes and two victories last year.
Best Male Tennis Player: Novak Djokovic
A lot of people were pulling for Rafael Nadal here, but when it comes down to it, he doesn't have a greater body of work than Novak Djokovic because he missed the second half of 2012. Since Wimbledon 2012, Djokovic has captured seven singles titles, including the Australian Open title. He is 39-6 this year and the No. 1 player in the world.
Best Male Olympian: Michael Phelps
You can't argue with this after Michael Phelps took four gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics to set the all-time individual record for most gold medals at the Olympics. After all the hoopla leading up to the London Games, Phelps mowed down the competition.
Best Female Olympian: Missy Franklin
Missy Franklin became the second American woman in history to win four swimming gold medals at a single Olympics at the London Games. She did this at 17 years of age and instantly rose to stardom in the process.
Best Fighter: Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is undeniably the best boxer in the world right now. After a brilliant display against Miguel Cotto in May 2012, Mayweather picked apart challenger Robert Guerrero this year. Guerrero landed a mere 19 percent of his punches against one of the greatest defensive boxers of all time.
Best International Athlete: Usain Bolt
In terms of being an athlete, Usain Bolt is on a different level than just about everyone else. "Lightning Bolt" won three gold medals at the London Games and became just the second athlete in history to win the 100-meter dash in back-to-back appearances. Carl Lewis was the other guy.
Best WNBA Player: Candace Parker
After averaging 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.6 steals for the Los Angeles Sparks last season, Candace Parker is averaging 17.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.1 steals this season. The 2008 WNBA MVP ranks fifth in points per game, fifth in rebounds per game and second in blocks per game this season. While Angel McCoughtry may be the MVP this season, if you take last year into account, you have to give the award to Parker.
Best MLS Player: Thierry Henry
While Chris Wondolowski was also deserving of the award with 27 goals last season for the San Jose Earthquakes, Thierry Henry posted 15 goals and 12 assists in just 25 matches. He needed just 88 shots to score those 15 goals.
Best Driver: Ryan Hunter-Reay
When you become the first American to capture the IndyCar series title, you are going to earn some high praise. Enough high praise to deservedly win an ESPY.
Best Bowler: Pete Weber
Pete Weber became the first bowler to complete a PBA Triple Crown twice. Making history tends to earn you an ESPY. It would have been hard to argue for anyone else here.
Best Jockey: Joel Rosario
Joel Rosario won the 2013 Kentucky Derby aboard Orb. He also captured the Dubai World Cup aboard Animal Kingdom. The 28-year-old Dominican has won over a lot of fans in the past year.
Best Male Athlete with Disability: Jeremy Campbell
Jeremy Campbell not only set the Paralympics record in the discus in 2012, he also broke the world record in the event at the Triton Invitational.
Best Female Athlete with Disability: Jessica Long
How can you argue with the selection of Jessica Long? She set two world records en route to eight medals including five gold medals in the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Best Male Action Sports Athlete: Nyjah Huston
Nyjah Huston captured the world's attention in 2013 when he won two gold medals in Street League Skateboarding.
Best Female Action Sports Athlete: Stephanie Gilmore
Stephanie Gilmore captured her fifth career ASP World Tour points title in surfing in 2012. The 25-year-old Australian has captured the points title in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. At this point, anything less than winning the points title would be shocking for her. It must have been disheartening when she only placed third in 2011.
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