What will you be doing tonight? Hopefully, it’ll be in front of a TV, with some chips and drinks, checking out one of the best nights in sports.
Tonight at 9 P.M. EST, Seth Meyers will be hosting the ESPYs. While much of our night will be centered on finding the good-looking females in attendance (remember Brooklyn Decker last year?), as well as attempting to make it through much of the boring parts of the show (seriously, who cares about the Best Jockey or the Best Bowler?), this has always been a relatively memorable night.
So in honor of the ESPYs, Dime put together our own condensed version, sticking strictly to just basketball.
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BEST PLAYER: Dirk Nowitzki
In an attempt to avoid cliches, I really wanted to pick Derrick Rose. Or Dwight Howard. Or even Kemba Walker (college version). But really, this was the year of Dirk. Simple as that. Early on, he was a legitimate MVP candidate. Then, he was forgotten about for a little while before resurfacing again in the playoffs.
For a guy who was never given his just due, he lead the Mavs to a 14-3 finish after their Game 4 first round collapse in Portland. All of that against the best competition in the world. 14-3! When other stars had chances to step up, it was Dirk stepping higher. When it came down to crunch time, it was the German doing the crunching.
Upon receiving this award, I’m hoping he gives us another We Are The Chaaaaampions!
BEST CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE: Dirk Nowitzki
Who else? In leading the Mavericks to the NBA Championship, Dallas’ fearless leader and Finals MVP led the Mavs in scoring in all but one game, including his fever-ridden and team-high 21 points in Game 4 that evened the series against the Heat at two games apiece and tilted the series in the Mavs’ favor. Nowitzki also scored 27 points in Game 1, 24 in Game 2 despite a torn tendon in his finger, 34 in Game 3 and 29 in Game 5.
Nowitzki’s supporting cast certainly helped lead the Mavs’ to their title, but his ability to knock down shots in any situation made him invaluable and the reason why Dallas won it all. He was the heart and soul of this team, and his dominating championship performance proved it.
BEST BREAKTHROUGH PLAYER: J.J. Barea
There is no one player more qualified for the title of “best breakthrough player” than J.J Barea. Throughout his career after his collegiate days at Northeastern University, Barea has consistently defied the odds. After being undrafted in the 2006 NBA Draft, he proved himself by balling his heart out in the Las Vegas Summer League, achieving his dream and earning a spot on the Dallas Mavericks roster.
Fast forward five years and he’s still holding his own, to say the least. Skip Bayless said on ESPN First Take that Barea is on his way to becoming one of the best little men the game has ever seen. Bold statement, but he was deserving of some recognition nonetheless. Although it doesn’t really show on the stat sheet, Barea had a remarkable postseason. He absolutely ran circles around the Lakers, making them so frustrated that Artest & Odom did their best to put him out of commission for good.
Although he didn’t drop 30 every night, Barea handled the intense atmosphere in the NBA Finals with amazing poise and composure. He left his mark on Game 4 though, punching in four crucial three pointers and scoring 17 big points. In honor of his performance during the championship run, the Puerto Rican sensation was rewarded by the people of his home country with a parade of his very own. Not many NBA players can go from being undrafted to having their own parade.