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2011 ESPY Awards Predictions (Part 1)

In Sports on July 12, 2011 at 12:26 am

by:  Eric Buenning

With the ESPY awards only 40-some  hours away, it’s time to break out the crystal ball and predict what’s in store for us come Wednesday.  Let’s get started.

BEST MALE ATHLETE

Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR)–Rafael Nadal (Tennis)–Dirk Nowitzki (NBA)–Aaron Rodgers (NFL)

Who should win: Aaron Rodgers.  The guy is only three years into his starting gig as a NFL quarterback, and he’s already a top-5 player at his position.  He led an injury-riddled Green Bay Packers team to an improbable Super Bowl title, a game in which he played even better than he had ever done before.  He will probably win a handful of these down the road, so it’s not upsetting to hand it off to the winner this year.

Who will win: Dirk Nowitzki.  Dirk finally beat his playoff demons this year by leading his team to the NBA Finals crown by knocking off the Miami Heat in 6 games.  Dirk didn’t even seem human during stretches of the playoffs and took his game to another level, nearly reaching Hasselhoff status in Germany in only a few months.

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE

Kelly Clark (Snowboarding)–Lauren Jackson (WNBA)–Maya Moore (NCAA)–Lindsey Vonn (Skiing)

Who should win:  Maya Moore.  Arguably, the most gifted all-around women’s basketball since maybe…Cheryl Miller, Moore led the Connecticut Huskies to a record 90 wins in a row.  Although they did not win the title this year, Moore will go down as one of the most accomplished college players of all time.

Who will win:  Maya Moore.  None of the other three candidates are qualified enough to take this award away from Maya.  There isn’t much more to that argument.

BEST CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE

Tim Lincecum (2010 Postseason)–Tim Thomas (NHL Playoffs)–Kemba Walker (Big East Tourney & NCAA Tourney)–Serena Williams (2010 Wimbledon)

Who should win:  Tim Thomas.  Tim Thomas even had me (me=hockey live-soft(opposite of die-hard)) captivated by his performance during this postseason.  A living room furniture set couldn’t have been more outstanding in goal.  It was amazing.

Who will win: Tim Thomas.  Again, HE HAD ME TUNING INTO HOCKEY GAMES!!!!!!!!

BEST BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE

Jose Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays)–Arian Foster (Houston Texans)–Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)–Li Na (Tennis)–Cam Newton (Auburn Tigers)

Who should win:  Li Na.  If we’re going by the definition of breakthrough, then she should win.  Nobody really truly expected her to burst forth like that at the French Open and seize the title.  She also did it knowing that millions and millions and millions and millions of people back home in China were watching.  Talk about pressure.

Who will win:  Blake Griffin. Sorry Li, but Blake will end up taking this award home with him.  Blake had a never-ending highlight reel of dunks and…well, dunks.  He made the Clippers a must-see team again, which is something I haven’t heard of since I’ve been born.  Both Na and Griffin are deserving, but Griffin will edge it out because of high-flying, mind-blowing athleticism and creativity during the basketball season.

BEST RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCE

Ray Allen (3-pointers made record)–Rory McIlroy (US Open)–Derrick Rose (Youngest NBA MVP)–UConn Women’s Basketball Team (longest win streak)

Who should win:  Rory McIlroy. The kid dominated the field at Congressional over Father’s Day weekend.  It was amazing to watch the young Northern Irishman craft his way around that golf course.

Who will win:  Rory McIlroy. Need I remind you that he was coming off a disastrous collapse at the The Masters, he rebounded like no golfer we’ve ever seen before.

BEST UPSET

Blame over Zenyatta (Breeders Cup)–Fabricio Wedrum d. Fedor Emilianenko (MMA)–Seahawks d. Saints (NFL Playoffs)–VCU (NCAA Tournament)

Who should win: VCU.  This is a victory by default.  No other event really had the level of shock that this moment did.  VCU wasn’t even supposed to be in the tournament at all.  Naturally, they got hot and started shutting teams down, including #1 seed Kansas, 71-61.

Who will win: VCU.  You know what?  That was incredible!! The Rams did not even belong in the tournament!  Their most noteworthy person was Shaka Smart, the head coach.  Screw my “win by default” claim, this wins in a landslide!!

BEST GAME

Auburn d. Alabama (Iron Bowl, NCAAF)–Butler d. Pittsburgh (NCAAB Tourney)–Eagles rally to defeat Giants (NFL)–Oklahoma City Thunder d. Memphis Grizzlies (NBA Playoffs)

Who should win:  OKC d. Memphis. Personally, a competitive game throughout should beat an amazing comeback paired with an equally amazing collapse.  In the basketball game, teams traded blow for blow until Memphis finally folded to the powers of Kevin Durant.  That game was more compelling and exciting.  However…

Who will win:  Eagles d. Giants.  You can’t argue against a last-second punt return for a touchdown, capping off an incomprehensible comeback (unless you literally did it in the last paragraph, then we’ll let it slide).  This not only catapulted The Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl run, but also gave many fans another chance to watch Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin share equally mortified looks with the nation.  Can’t top that.

BEST MOMENT

Fennville HS Basketball Team (HS Playoff run)–Roy Halladay (postseason no-hitter)–Trevor Bayne (Daytona 500 Winner)

Who should/will win:  Fennville HS Team.  Minutes after the team clinched a spot in the playoffs, Wes Leonard collapsed on the floor.  Wes had made the game-winning shot one moment, and was dead the next.  Students, parents, and fans looked on in horror.  Wes’ family and paramedics rushed to his aid, but it was too late.

The team decided to fight on through the playoff run.  The first game back was hard for anyone to watch, let alone take part in.  The kids would come to the bench crying, unable to control any of their emotions.  They ended up winning that game, though.  They fought through a few more difficult victories, but fell short of their shot at a state title.  It took a special group of kids to do what those teens did, and hopefully this award can give them the smallest amount of happiness, even though they would much rather have their friend back instead.

BEST TEAM

Auburn Tigers (NCAAF)–Boston Bruins (NHL)–Dallas Mavericks (NBA)–Green Bay Packers (NFL)–San Francisco Giants (MLB)–Texas A&M Basketball (NCAAW)

Who should/will win:  Green Bay Packers.  The title finally went back home this season as the Packers, who had the most injuries of any football team, managed to persevere and win the Lombardi Trophy.  The team couldn’t even escape injury in the Super Bowl, losing Donald Driver, Charles Woodson, and Sam Shields during the contest.  No team comes close, really;  although the Mavericks do deserve credit for being the team that finally got in the way of the Miami Heat winning the trophy.  Yikes, that would’ve been bad.

CASTOL EDGE PERFORMANCE UNDER PRESSURE AWARD

Arian Foster (Week 1 vs. Colts: 230 rush yds, 3 TDs)–DeAngelo Hall (4 INTs vs. Bears)–Leon  Washington (2 Kick Return TDs vs. San  Diego)

Who should win:  Arian Foster, I guess. He did have a monster game, which led to an even greater regular season, but it’s hard to chose, because I don’t think either of these are really worthy of an award.  The silver lining with Foster winning was that it sent a message to the Colts that they cannot run away with this division every year.  I mean, yes they did win it AGAIN, but it was closer than usual.  Kind of.

Who will win:  Leon Washington??  Um……2 kick return TDs is pretty cool, I guess.  People do like special teams stuff, so maybe this will sneak in as the winner.

BEST SPORTS MOVIE

The Fighter–Secretariat–Soul Surfer–Win Win

Who should/will win:  The Fighter.  This was in reasonable contention for an Oscar, so it should be a pretty clear runaway for an ESPY.  Plus, people love Mark Wahlberg.  He played for the Eagles, remember???

BEST COACH/MANAGER

Jim Calhoun (UConn Men’s Basketball)–Rick Carlisle (Dallas Mavericks (Dallas Mavericks)–Gene Chizik (Auburn NCAAF)–Mike McCarthy (Green Bay Packers)–Dom Starsia (Virgina Lacrosse)

Who should win:  Rick Carlisle.  This man is a freakin’ genius.  He managed to get everything he could out of Peja Stojakovic, Jason Kidd, Brian Cardinal, Jason Terry, and JJ Barea.  That collection of role players defeated the super-villains from South Beach.   That’s some pretty incredible stuff right there.

Who will win:  Mike McCarthy. I mean, he was the coach of the “Best Team”.  He showed more guts and courage than anyone thought he was capable of this season.  He lost so many key players and, like  many coaches, he could have made excuses for poor play, but he didn’t.  He just kept right on schedule, and it led him to that awkwardly cramped podium in Arlington–holding that trophy, making every Packers fan forget about how they may have disliked him earlier in the season.

That wraps up Part 1 of this preview.  Part 2 will be released Tuesday.

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