ESPY Awards 2015 Results: Analyzing LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Other Winners

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2015

NBA player LeBron James, of the Cleveland Cavaliers, accepts the award for best championship performance at the ESPY Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Wednesday, July 15, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

The 2015 ESPY awards descended on the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening, as the biggest and brightest stars from across the sports universe gathered for the annual showcase. 

Per usual, the show highlighted the most compelling storylines from the past year. And by night's end, a handful of lucky nominees emerged with hardware in tow after being recognized for their show-stopping athletic achievements. 

Here's a look at some of the evening's notable winners:

Notable Winners at 2015 ESPY Awards
CategoryWinner
Best Record Breaking PerformancePeyton Manning
Best UpsetOle Miss over Alabama
Breakthrough AthleteMo'Ne Davis
Best Male College AthleteMarcus Mariota
Best Championship PerformanceLeBron James
Best MomentLauren Hill
Best Comeback AthleteRob Gronkowski
Best Female AthleteRonda Rousey
Best NFL PlayerAaron Rodgers
Play of the YearOdell Beckham Jr.
Best Male AthleteStephen Curry
Team of the YearUSWNT
Fighter of the YearRonda Rousey
Best CoachSteve Kerr
Best International AthleteLionel Messi
Best MLB PlayerMike Trout
Best NHL PlayerJonathan Toews
Best NBA PlayerStephen Curry
Best GolferJordan Spieth
Best GamePatriots vs. Seahawks (Super Bowl 49)
Source: ESPN

Best Record Breaking Performance: Peyton Manning 

Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has etched his name into NFL record books countless times, but his ability to shatter one mark, in particular, boosted his legacy to another level. 

In a 42-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers last October, Manning hit wide receiver Demaryius Thomas for an eight-yard touchdown that thrust the signal caller into sole possession of first place on the league's all-time passing touchdown list. 

"I certainly think about how grateful I am for all the teammates and coaches that I've played with and played for throughout my career, not only here in Denver -- in Indianapolis and all the people who have helped me along the way," Manning said upon setting the record, according to ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold

The official ESPY Twitter account commemorated Manning's accomplishment Wednesday evening: 

Although Manning now occupies Brett Favre's former perch atop the touchdown leaderboard, ESPN Stats & Info noted there's one category where the former Green Bay Packers superstar continues to hold a statistical edge:  

While an ESPY is nice, Manning is undoubtedly seeking a return to the Super Bowl after the Broncos were bounced in the divisional round of the playoffs last year by the Indianapolis Colts. 

Best Championship Performance: LeBron James

Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

The Cleveland Cavaliers may not have been able to topple the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, but that didn't diminish the magnitude of LeBron's efforts. 

According to the NBA's official Twitter account, James was formally honored for his accomplishments in a championship setting: 

And while it may seem counter-intuitive to bestow such an award on a player whose team came up short, ESPN Stats & Info rebuffed that notion with some jaw-dropping stats:

Those numbers are mind-blowing, but let's dive a little deeper.

Working without the help of Kyrie Irving (kneecap) and Kevin Love (shoulder surgery), the Cavaliers essentially devolved into a one-man operation. And despite James using seven or more dribbles to set up 41.5 percent of his shots, according to SportVU player-tracking data, Cleveland was still able to push the Warriors to six games. 

While modern NBA offenses tend to rely on pace and space to create mismatches, the Cavs threw that concept out the window when they were under duress. Instead, James functioned as the team's primary ball-handler, scorer and playmaker in all phases as Cleveland tried to bludgeon Golden State by playing late into the shot clock and mucking things up. 

And it almost worked. 

Best Male Athlete: Stephen Curry

Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

Fear not, Warriors fans: The NBA champions didn't go home empty-handed. 

After LeBron was recognized as the most dominant title performer, league MVP Stephen Curry trotted up to the stage and accepted Best Male Athlete honors. 

Curry's teammate Shaun Livingston took to Twitter to celebrate: 

ESPN Stats & Info passed along a league-specific nugget regarding Curry's victory: 

Dirk Nowitzki took home the Best Male Athlete hardware in 2011, while James did so in 2012 and 2013 before Kevin Durant swooped in and scooped up the trophy in 2014. 

En route to capturing NBA MVP honors, Curry averaged 23.8 points and 7.7 assists, making him one of three players—along with LeBron and Russell Westbrook—to average at least 20 points and seven dimes last season, per Basketball-Reference.com  

Curry also led the league with 286 made threes. According to Basketball-Reference, he already ranks No. 2 all-time in terms of total seasons (three) with at least 200 made triples. Ray Allen occupies the top spot with five. 

Still just 27 years old and creeping into his prime, Curry is a lock to return to the ESPY stage and add some more shiny keepsakes to his trophy case.  

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