Those who say the Wednesday after the MLB All-Star Game is the most boring day on the entire sports calendar clearly aren’t fans of ESPN’s annual ESPY show.
This year’s version featured rapper Drake as the host and a number of skits that poked fun at Blake Griffin, “honored” the runner-ups across the sports landscape and allowed Drake to show off his chops on the microphone.
There were plenty of awards handed out, but a few in particular stood out because of the surprise factor involved. With that in mind, here is a look at the three biggest surprises from ESPN’s event.
Best Moment: U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team Beating Ghana
Safe to say Jordan Brenner of ESPN The Magazine wasn’t a fan of the United States men’s national soccer team taking home the award for best moment, while Busted Coverage thought the ESPY should have gone to Auburn shocking Alabama in the Iron Bowl:
U.S. Soccer won ONE game at the World Cup. Repeating: ONE. Can we stop pretending they put forth some sort of heroic performance? #usmnt— Jordan Brenner (@JordanBrenner) July 17, 2014
. @GottliebShow Wait, you mean the lone win in a 1-2-1 tournament showing isn't historic?— Jordan Brenner (@JordanBrenner) July 17, 2014
A guy runs back a missed FG 100+ to beat Alabama & that doesn't get Best Moment? Never seen before in CFB history.— Busted Coverage (@bustedcoverage) July 17, 2014
Everything mentioned in those tweets is a valid point.
The patriotism that swept the nation during the World Cup was absolutely great, and rarely does one thing bring the entire country together, especially in sports. However, the larger context of the moment should probably be taken into account with this award.
The U.S. team had a losing record in the World Cup and was actually seen as the favorite in that Ghana game. Ideally, the program will reach the point one day where winning one game in the group stage isn’t the best moment.
Soccer is certainly more popular than it once was in America, and the future looks bright as young and talented players come through the ranks. However, there were better moments in the world of sports than a group stage victory for the soccer team.
Best NBA Player and Male Athlete: Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant was the best player in the NBA this season, hence the MVP award he received. The inclusion of his ESPYS on this list is not meant as an indictment of the Oklahoma City Thunder forward in the slightest.
ESPN Stats & Info put out some numbers that backed up these selections:
However, there is still a surprise factor involved because so many people simply operate under the assumption that LeBron James is the best player in the world. In fact, how often do we hear James described as just that?
Given how much James has been in the news cycle lately, it is surprising that ESPN even remembered there were other players in the league.
Plus, Durant had to beat out Peyton Manning for the best male athlete after the Denver quarterback broke almost every quarterback record in the book this past season for the AFC Champion Broncos.
One person who ironically probably wasn’t surprised by Durant’s ESPYS would be James himself, at least if his comments after Durant won the MVP were any indication, according to the Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
"Much respect to him and he deserves it. He had a big-time MVP season."
Durant definitely deserved the ESPYS. It was just a surprise that he actually won them.
Best Team: Seattle Seahawks
Yes, Football is king in America.
Yes, the Seattle Seahawks absolutely obliterated Manning and the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl in an incredible performance.
Yes, the Seahawks deserve every bit of recognition they receive.
The fact that this ESPY is included on here has nothing to do with the Seahawks. Still, the thought here is that the San Antonio Spurs deserved this award.
Who deserved this ESPY more?
First of all, there was the entire redemption story after the Spurs had the championship in their grasp the season before. It just so happened that they played against the same Miami Heat team that beat them the previous year in the 2014 NBA Finals.
All the Spurs did was eviscerate James and company in arguably the most impressive performance in the history of the NBA Finals. It marked San Antonio’s fifth title since 1999 and was the culmination of an entire era of incredible basketball.
Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider noted just how historically great San Antonio was against the Heat:
The Seahawks were incredible against Denver, but the Spurs simply had a sustained level of excellence over the course of an entire series unlike anything we have ever seen before.
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