Candidates For Athlete For Year

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Updated: August 10, 2015

Here are my candidates for Athlete of the Year beginning with Floyd Mayweather.  Mayweather is considered this reward for less what he did inside the ring as he did outside.  Mayweather easily beat Pacquiao in what was supposed to have been the fight of the year but “Money” Mayweather engineered the biggest pay day for any fight.  He was not only one of the participant in the ring but he was also one of the biggest promoters outside the ring and his salesmanship got even the most casual fan interested as over 4 million folks paid out 100 dollars for a card that proved underwhelming but hey, Mayweather dominated the PacMan in the ring and walked out of the ring with the biggest paycheck for single event. Mayweather wore two hats, one as the fighter in the ring and the promoter outside; a dual role that is a rarity in sports.  It is for the later as a promoter that he deserves consideration.

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Serena Williams is headed for a possible yearly grand slam and tying Steffi Graff for the most majors in the Open era.  At the age of 33, Williams has pushed back father time and simply keeps winning as she has beaten the field eight of the last thirteen majors after the age of 30.  When Serena plays, folks watches and even the most casual fan knows Serena Williams as she is the face of Tennis.   Serena and her older sister Venus have dominated women Tennis since the late 90’s and for two decades, there was usually a William sister on the top of the leader board. Another aspect of the Williams’ sister is that they are businesswomen outside the Tennis court and for years promoted their own clothing line.  Like Mayweather, Serena may make her mark outside the sport and like Mayweather, she is a rare athlete who transcend the sport.

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LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world today and he has carried two franchises to NBA finals. In Miami, he won two NBA titles in four years as part of the big three of Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and James. Before Miami, James took a bad franchise on his back where he led them to a NBA final in 2007 against the San Antonio Spurs.  He lost but Spurs were a team near their peak with their own big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.  When James left Cleveland to go to Miami, much of Ohio was crestfallen but James figured he gone as far as he could with the Cavaliers and he wanted a shot a Title.  After getting his NBA title, he came back to a Cleveland that slipped back to hard times during his absence. After his return, the franchise went from lottery pick to a favorite for the NBA title.  The Cavaliers traded their first round draft pick, Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love and Kylie Irving came into his own as a player and suddenly the Cavaliers had their own big three.  During the playoffs, Love was lost after the Celtics series and Irving played much of the playoff on one leg before his knee gave out at the beginning of the NBA finals. James once again took the Cavaliers on his back but came up short against Warriors.

Rhonda Rousey is another candidate for athlete of the year as she has become the face of the UFC and taken the UFC to new heights and new interest.  Dane White, the UFC boss, never wanted women to compete but Rousey changed his mind and now she is now the UFC main meal ticket.  Like the others on this list, her popularity has transcended the sport and increase the value of the UFC.  Rousey has done for UFC that Mayweather did for boxing in getting casual fans a reason to look.  If she fights Chris Cyborg, this bout could become one of the biggest in history and might even compete with Mayweather-Pacquiao for viewings.

American Pharoah may be a horse but he, like the others, transcended his sport with his racing style and the way he became the first triple-crown winner since 1978.  This horse proved to be a horse that could adept to any situation as he slouched through the mud at Preakness to take the second jewel of the Triple Crown and he won the Belmont from the opening gate to the very end as he went wire to wire.

American Women Soccer Team won the 2015 World Cup in spectacular fashion as the women blitz the Japanese with three quick goals to win the finals 5 to 2. They saved their best for the final two games as they not only demolish the Japanese but they also defeated the top rank Germans 2 to 0 in the semifinals.

What these candidates have in common is not that they dominated their sports but they also had that extra charisma that excited the most common fans to take an interest in their sport.  At least three of these athletes still have much to accomplish. Serena Williams have an US Open to conquer and Rousey has one more fight but against who, we don’t know. If it is Cyborg, this could be one of the biggest sporting events.   Mayweather is going for number 49 in a row but no one is that excited over his handpicked opponent, Andre Berto for maybe his last fight. I suspect that Mayweather is using this fight to get his record before going after one more big pay day.   By the end of this year, LeBron James could be on his way to a sixth straight NBA Finals.

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