My Athletes of the Year!

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Updated: November 29, 2015

Here are my athletes of the year and my picks are not necessarily based on what they accomplish in the ring but outside as well.

Floyd Mayweather is one of the athletes of the year and is my boxer of the year. This is not based on what he did in the ring but what he accomplish outside the ring.  Mayweather proved to be the master promoter as he struck a deal with Team Pacquiao after all these years to put on the biggest fight of the year.   More people saw this bout PPV than any other bouts in history, not just boxing but MMA as well   As for the fight itself, it was forgettable as Mayweather simply out boxed and out maneuvered Pacquiao throughout the bout to win an easy decision.  2015 was the year of Mayweather as most of the boxing world ask what will Mayweather do?  Will he retire or fight one more big fight?  Mayweather has stated that his bout with Andre Berto would be his last as he retired with no blemishes on his record and many of his bouts were easy victories.

Boxing today like MMA ended the year with superstars leaving like Mayweather or Rhonda Rousey getting splattered by Holly Holm.  Both of these fighters drove their sport but if Mayweather really does retire, boxing can move on from the Mayweather era and start looking at the star fighters within their midst just as Saul Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, and Terrace Crawford.  In 2016, Alvarez-Golovkin could be the biggest bout of the year if Alvarez is willing to fight triple G’s.

The greatness of Floyd Mayweather is one of those questions that time will tell as we can better judge his accomplishments from a distance of time.  When Larry Holmes retired, he was never consider a great fighter despite dominating the heavyweight division from1978 to 1985 until the passage of time when we realize that indeed he was an all-time great and the same could be said of George Foreman when he recaptured the Heavyweight division some 21 years after he originally captured it.  Mayweather did demonstrate understanding of the boxing business as he essentially ran his own career and who knows, Mayweather the promoter may prove to be as accomplished as Mayweather the fighter.  For one brief moment in 2015, Mayweather the promoter made the casual fan actually care about boxing.

Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic were Tennis best and while the world were fixated on Williams’ quest for a calendar grand slam, Djokovic came within one final match from doing it himself.  With three Majors and a runner up in the French, Djokovic actually came closer than Williams in garnering the calendar grand slam.

Serena Williams made it to the Semi’s before losing in one of sports’ biggest upset.  Williams, like Mayweather did in boxing, made the casual fan actually care about Tennis and she was the biggest draw in Tennis for both Men and women.  The women’s final was sold out quicker this past US Open than the Men’s final and this was due to the anticipation of a Williams charge to Historical greatness.  Williams has shown that at the age of 34, she is still the queen of the Tennis world and she has won 8 of the past 14 majors after turning 30.  Something that has not been accomplished in Women’s Tennis.

Lebron James is the king of basketball world and who else could make people care about Cleveland Cavaliers?  While James has his detractors but his return to Cleveland produce shock wave throughout the NBA. Rarely has a player exercise so much control within a franchise as Cleveland traded away their first round draft pick who was going to be Kansas star Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love  and Cleveland is in a win now mentality.  There are times that head coach David Blatt feels more like the assistant coach to James and the front office probably check with James before making any moves.  For James, this is all or nothing as he wants to bring a title to Cleveland and reward Cleveland fans with their first title in any sport since Cleveland Jim Brown era some fifty years ago.  Like Floyd Mayweather, James is putting his destiny in his hands and history will show if he indeed will succeed but last year he came within two games of winning the NBA title as he carried the Cavs to the final after both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were injured during the playoffs and not available for the finals.   James has one other aspect going for him, he is the most popular athlete in the world and his jersey is worn in China or Europe as he is the face of the NBA.

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American Pharaoh won the horse racing Triple Crown.  This horse proved to be an all-time as he slugged out a victory in the mud of Preakness and a wire to wire win at Belmont before leaving the horse racing scene with a victory at the Breeder Cup.  Like other athletes on this list, American Pharaoh made people care about horse racing and after some many close calls over the past 37 years in which numerous horses won the first two legs of the triple crown only to fall short in the Belmont, this horse proved to the most durable and greatest racer since Secretariat.

 

Kansas City Royals and Golden State Warriors proved that teams win championship.  The Royals came within 90 feet of tying the seventh game of the World Series in 2014 and going into 2015, most pundits view 2014 as a fluke and predicted that the Royals would return to their losing ways.  The consensus was that the Royals would win maybe 75 games top but they exceeded that total by twenty wins.  The Royals started this season with a mission and during the playoffs, they dominated the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.  With timely hitting, great defense and the relief staff that bolstered a so-so starting pitching staff, the Royals on six different times come back from deficits of two runs or more.   Kansas City is the smallest sport market in baseball but they started out with a plan, they had management patient with the plan and they made history.

Golden State Warrior played small ball as they played a totally different game.  This team played small ball, their super star was their point guard and they played great defense.  They just didn’t click on all cylinders offensively but they used their defense to create offense. They played the complete game and changed how others view basketball with players who can play multiple positions with super stars surrounded by role players who understood their role and fulfilled them.   Now the Warriors are going for a repeat and who knows, there may be another date with James led Cleveland Cavaliers.

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