Although the ESPY Awards are not usually debated as much as other events, there were quite a few mistakes when it came to the winners.
On the positive side, the ceremony featured a number of memorable moments. Michael Sam accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award was only trumped by Stuart Scott on his speech for receiving the Jimmy V Award:
There were few dry eyes in attendance or at home once the SportsCenter anchor was finished on stage.
However, the awards themselves featured quite a few interesting selections. Here is a complete look at the winners from Wednesday's show, followed by a breakdown of the biggest snubs.
|Male Athlete||Kevin Durant||Jockey||Victor Espinoza|
|Female Athlete||Ronda Rousey||MLS Player||Tim Cahill|
|Moment||USMNT vs. Ghana||Male U.S. Olympian||Sage Kotsenburg|
|Team||Seattle Seahawks||Female U.S. Olympian||Jamie Anderson|
|Comeback Athlete||Russell Westbrook||International Athlete||Cristiano Ronaldo|
|Breakthrough Athlete||Richard Sherman||WNBA Player||Maya Moore|
|Championship Performance||Kawhi Leonard||Male Golfer||Bubba Watson|
|Game||Auburn vs. Alabama||Female Golfer||Michelle Wie|
|Upset||Mercer over Duke||Male Tennis Player||Rafael Nadal|
|NFL Player||Peyton Manning||Female Tennis Player||Maria Sharapova|
|NBA Player||Kevin Durant||Male College Athlete||Doug McDermott|
|MLB Player||Miguel Cabrera||Female College Athlete||Breanna Stewart|
|NHL Player||Sidney Crosby||Male Athlete with a Disability||Declan Farmer|
|Driver||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Female Athlete with a Disability||Jamie Whitmore|
|Coach/Manager||Gregg Popovich||Male Action Sports Athlete||Nyjah Huston|
|Fighter||Floyd Mayweather||Female Action Sports Athlete||Jamie Anderson|
|Bowler||Pete Weber||Play||Chris Davis in Iron Bowl|
|Pat Tillman Award||Josh Sweeney||Record-Breaking Performance||Peyton Manning|
|Arthur Ashe Award||Michael Sam||Jimmy V Award||Stuart Scott|
Best Breakthrough Athlete
Winner: Richard Sherman
Snub: Damian Lillard
Richard Sherman is an extremely talented football player, but he does not really fit the qualifications for this award.
The cornerback had a "breakthrough" season in 2012 when he was named first-team All-Pro after a fantastic year. A year later, he had just as much success but became a household name based on his trash-talking ability.
Will Brinson of CBS Sports explained the situation perfectly:
Richard Sherman wasn't a "breakthrough athlete." He was a "good sports player normal people now know by name"— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) July 17, 2014
In fact, Sherman's most memorable moment of the season came with his helmet off:
Drake provided one of his best one-liners of the night at Sherman's expense:
Conversely, Damian Lillard truly stepped up in his second season. Not only did he become an All-Star, but he also stole the show on All-Star Weekend while competing in the Rising Stars Challenge, Skills Challenge, Three-Point Competition and Slam Dunk Contest.
He then cemented his status as an elite player by making this series-clinching shot against the Houston Rockets:
Lillard has clearly established himself among the biggest stars in the league, something that never would have been said before the year started. This clearly makes him more of a breakthrough athlete than Sherman.
Best Championship Performance
Winner: Kawhi Leonard
Snub: David Ortiz
It's easy to forget about last season in baseball, but you cannot overlook David Ortiz when describing the best championship performances of the year.
Big Papi came through with one of the best World Series showings in baseball history last October. In six games, he hit .688 with a .760 on-base percentage and two home runs. This would be impressive on its own, but it is even bigger considering the rest of the team accumulated only a .169 batting average with two home runs in the same span.
If not for Ortiz, it is hard to imagine the Boston Red Sox coming through with a World Series title.
On the other hand, the San Antonio Spurs put forth a great team effort to defeat the Miami Heat, and Kawhi Leonard certainly had a strong showing in the series:
Over the final 3 games of the series, #NBAFinals MVP Kawhi Leonard averaged 23.7 PTS, 9.3 RBS, 2.0 STLS, 2.0 BLKS on 68.6% FG, 53.8% from 3— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) June 17, 2014
However, the squad also relied on the core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, as well as Danny Green, Boris Diaw and others.
Leonard was good, but Ortiz was superhuman in his championship performance.
Winner: USA Win Over Ghana
Snub: Mariano Rivera's Final Game
This is all about short-term memory from those who voted.
The United States national soccer team beat Ghana in dramatic fashion in the first World Cup match, thanks to a late goal by John Brooks. For all of the American fans watching at the stadium and at home, this was one of the better moments of the tournament.
While this ended up being the only victory for the United States in Brazil, there were plenty more big goals throughout the month-long event. From an international perspective, this was nothing out of the ordinary.
However, a moment that will live on much longer in the hearts of sports fans is Mariano Rivera's final appearance at Yankee Stadium.
The 19-year veteran, who was undoubtedly the greatest closer who ever played, had announced his retirement before the start of the 2013 season. When he was taken out for the last time at his home ballpark, it was not manager Joe Girardi who made the call. Instead, it was long-time teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte:
Rivera—who had not shown much emotion on the mound throughout his career—broke down in tears. He shared his thoughts after the game, via Josh Vitale of MLB.com:
It definitely was a magical moment. I've had an opportunity to play for 19 years and give the best of my talents and my ability to this organization. Tonight it paid off. The fans, they definitely appreciate that. My family, my wife, my kids, the fans—it was amazing. A great night. We lost, so I don't know how I'm saying that, but it was a great night.
Kevin Durant's MVP speech was outstanding to watch as well, but Rivera's sendoff set the standard for how to treat a retiring player.
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