The last year in sports is to be celebrated Wednesday night with the 2014 ESPYs. The awards show recognizes those who achieved greatness in both professional and amateur athletics.
Fans are given the chance to vote in all the categories, and the polls don’t close until the show begins. Below are predictions for the top eight awards at the 2014 ESPYs:
Best Male Athlete (Peyton Manning)
Manning and the Denver Broncos came up short in the 2014 Super Bowl, but the quarterback set offensive records with 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdowns. Miguel Cabrera and Kevin Durant won the MVP awards in their respective sports, but neither led his team to the final round of the playoffs. Floyd Mayweather won both of his fights in the last year, but he was expected to do so with ease.
Best Female Athlete (Ronda Rousey)
The UFC fighter is one of the most popular female athletes in the world. She’s been utterly dominant of late, winning her last two fights in less than a combined 90 seconds. Rousey has even main evented a pay-per-view, which is no small feat in a sport that's much more popular on the men’s side.
Best Play (Davis Field Goal Return)
Chris Davis’ touchdown against Alabama was easily the top play of the college football season. Not only did it knock off the No.1 team in the nation, but it’s a play that rarely happens. While a play like Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beater to send the Portland Trail Blazers to the next round of the playoffs was exciting, last-second shots occur often. Davis’ field goal return was extremely rare and came at a most opportune time for Auburn.
Best Team (San Antonio Spurs)
Few eventual champions have had more impartial fans rooting for them than the 2014 San Antonio Spurs. The NBA champs defeated one of the most hated teams in recent sports memory in the Miami Heat, and they did so in very convincing fashion. The Dallas Mavericks won the award in 2011 when they beat LeBron James & Co., and that will likely be the case again this year.
Best Comeback Athlete (Sidney Crosby)
No player had a bounce-back season like the Pittsburgh Penguins star. After missing at least half of the last three seasons, Crosby played all but two games for a total of 104 points.
Best Breakthrough Athlete (Richard Sherman)
Sherman was already one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks before the 2013 season, but he truly made his mark, en route to the Seattle Seahawks' Super Bowl victory. He’s both respected and hated because of his big mouth and ability to back up his talk with his play on the field.
Best Game (Auburn vs. Alabama)
The Iron Bowl not only featured the year’s best play, but it was competitive from start to finish. Two of college football’s top two teams fought for a spot in the SEC Championship Game, and it came down to the very end.
Best Championship Performance (Kawhi Leonard)
Leonard didn’t necessarily put up mind-blowing numbers, averaging 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds in five games, but he was deadly from the field and couldn’t miss in the Spurs’ last three victories. He is no longer viewed as just a supporting cast member of a team that includes Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.