"The ESPY award was given to the wrong person."
There's a phrase, or something very similar, that sports fans around the globe are sure to hear quite a bit on the radio and throughout their daily lives for the next few days as the results of the 2014 ESPY Awards are fully digested.
While some will focus on the entertainment values provided by host Drake, hardcore sports fans will pore over the results and pick out issues. While it seems like nitpicking, a case can certainly be made that hardware was dished to incorrect names and teams.
Let's point out some of the results that should have swung in a different direction.
Kevin Durant Upends Peyton Manning
It makes sense that an award that is seemingly a toss-up goes to the player who participates in a sport much more dictated by the individual.
Make no mistake—Kevin Durant is worthy of the Best Male Athlete award but over the 2013 edition of Peyton Manning is another debate entirely.
The NBA's MVP after averaging 32 points, 5.5 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game, Durant was the definition of special at 25 years old, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to the postseason. He took to social media afterward about the award, although it wasn't nearly as entertaining as his post-MVP speech:
Thanks a lot. Sorry if I forgot anyone up there but I was nervous. Ma I love u. Thanks to all the thunder fans. Love— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 17, 2014
But then there was Manning, who at 37 years of age, rewrote the record books with 55 touchdowns and 5,447 passing yards while leading his team to the Super Bowl.
Now, to be fair, Manning also took home the Best Record-Breaking Performance award, but combine records, a title-game berth, his age and previous health concerns and one can certainly make the argument that Manning should have left Los Angeles with two pieces of hardware.
Russell Westbrook Beats Out Dominic Moore
Nobody in their right mind would discredit what Russell Westbrook was able to accomplish last season.
In a remarkable comeback, Westbrook bounced back from a meniscus tear in the 2012-13 postseason last November and averaged 21.8 points, 6.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game. His team didn't go on to win a title or anything poetic, but it was a stunning turnaround nonetheless.
But it paled in comparison to Dominic Moore's journey.
Moore lost his wife, Katie, to liver cancer and proceeded to take 18 months away from the ice to mourn and recover.
Last season, the journeyman returned to the New York Rangers, and at the age of 33, he scored six goals with 12 assists in 73 games—and scored the game-winning goal in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.
As a result, Moore took home the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy recently and was emotional in his acceptance speech, as captured by Stephen Lorenzo of the New York Daily News: “I’ve had a lot of good examples of perseverance over the years and none more so than my wife Katie. This award is very meaningful and I’m very grateful.”
Even NHL players such as Steven Oleksy spoke out about the result of the award:
Some things at a very basic level transcend meaningless sports, and this was one of them.
Seattle Seahawks Over the San Antonio Spurs
Look, the Seattle Seahawks were a special team, a team on a mission to quell a gigantic chip on its shoulder and overcome the offensive juggernaut that was Manning and Denver in the process.
Russell Wilson and Co. did just that. But it was just one game: a single duel in the Super Bowl against a team that might not have even been the best opponent out of the AFC.
Now look at what the San Antonio Spurs did. We're talking about a borderline dynasty here that utilizes Gregg Popovich's system, one that gets the most out of throwaway players like Boris Diaw and Danny Green.
We're talking about Tim Duncan, who continues to defy age on his way to the Hall of Fame.
Which team should have won?
Most important of all, we're talking about a systematic destruction of the Big Three, which forced LeBron James back to Cleveland, Dwyane Wade seemed on the verge of retirement, and Chris Bosh was ready to bolt town with his tail between his legs.
All of this over the course of a seven-game series. Call it the Moneyball approach. David vs. Goliath. Whatever, but understand that what the Spurs were able to do in a sport tailored toward superstars is not something that should be just swept under the rug because football is more popular than basketball.
The Seahawks and the Spurs share a lot in common, and both were deserving. It's just a shame it had to divulge into a popularity contest.