By Dan Shanoff
Special to Page 3
With the 12th annual ESPY Awards on Wednesday night in Los Angeles. (and the broadcast Sunday, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN), it's a good time to take a look at the list of awards on the table, along with predictions of which nominees might take home the hardware.
In this first installment, I'll break down the "Cross-Cutter" nominees, based on who should win --
and who will win (keeping in mind that fans did all the voting this year):
BEST FEMALE ATHLETE
Contenders: Justine Henin-Hardenne, Annika Sorenstam, Diana Taurasi
Who Should Win: Henin-Hardenne, if only for reigning in the sport where the Williamses previously
ruled (but will her era simply be remembered as the year between Serena and Maria?)
Who Will Win: Diana Taurasi, who isn't just one of the most talented women's hoops players of all time
-- she's the most popular women's hoops player of all time.
BEST MALE ATHLETE
Contenders: Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Tom Brady, Kevin Garnett, Peyton Manning
Who Should Win: Bonds, who is doing the same superhuman things that Armstrong is doing, and Bonds is older -- plus he's playing a sport that many more people care about.
Who Will Win: Tom, because people appreciate being clutch when it counts the most (where KG and
Peyton did better than usual this year, but still fell short). Oh, and because of his relationship with Bridget Moynihan.
Contenders: Pistons, Marlins, Pats, Lightning, UConn men, UConn women
Who Should Win: UConn women, because they were the only team in this group that had the highest
expectations -- and still met them.
Who Will Win: Detroit, because the ESPY Awards voting kicked off just as the Pistons were whupping the
Lakers -- and, let's face it, no one gave them a chance.
Contenders: Geno Auriemma, Bill Belichick, Larry Brown, Jack McKeon, H.S. football coach Bob
Who Should Win: McKeon, who not only was supposed to be too old, but also followed his gut and
let Beckett pitch the decisive World Series Game 6.
Who Will Win: Belichick, and I can't say I disagree with the fans; he's so much smarter than
every other NFL coach, it's almost unfair. Almost.
Contenders: John Daly, Bethany Hamilton, Neil Parry, Jason White
Who Should Win: Hamilton, the teen surfer whose arm was bitten off by a shark.
Who Will Win: Neil Parry, whose long rehab after losing his leg culminated in one of the most
memorable highlights of the year: him running down the field on kickoff coverage for San Jose State.
Contenders: Freddy Adu, Jake Delhomme, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Michelle Wie
Who Should Win: Michelle, who is a more highly skilled golfer for her age than any other player in
the history of golf at that same age. Yes, that includes Tiger. She would have waxed a 14-year-old
Who Will Win: LeBron James, and that's just sad. Everyone knew LeBron last year; who the hell had
heard of Delhomme or Adu?
Contenders: NYY-BOS Game 7 ALCS; LLWS semis; Pats-Panthers Super Bowl; St. Joe's/Okla St. NCAA
Who Should Win: The Super Bowl, arguably the most entertaining edition ever of the biggest game in
the sports universe.
Who Will Win: ALCS Game 7, and hopefully for the right reasons (Red Sox epic choke) and not the
alternative (New York bias).
BEST RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCE
Contenders: John Gagliardi, Eric Gagne, Jamal Lewis, Michael Phelps
Who Should Win: Gagliardi, the football coach at little St. John's (MN), who has run the most
innovative college football program in the country for five decades.
Who Will Win: Gagne, and when the streak ended last week, the appreciation for what he was able to
sustain for so long was only magnified.
BEST SPORTS MOVIE
Contenders: Bobby Jones, Dodgeball, Miracle, Seabiscuit, Radio
Who Should Win: Seabiscuit, which -- along with Funny Cide -- gave a kick-start to national interest in
a flagging sport.
Who Will Win: Spider-Man 2. Oh, wait: Seabiscuit. I was confused by Tobey Maguire's presence
BEST MALE COLLEGE ATHLETE
Contenders: Larry Fitzgerald, Jameer Nelson, Emeka Okafor, Jason White
Who Should Win: Fitzgerald, who managed to sneak into the NFL (as the No. 3 pick, no less),
despite having only played two years of college football. Mo Clarett and WR rival Mike Williams
couldn't manage that.
Who Will Win: Jameer Nelson, who managed to dominate despite being pint-sized (and reputed to be
not ready for the NBA).
BEST FEMALE COLLEGE ATHLETE
Contenders: Alana Beard, Tara Kirk, Cat
Reddick, Diana Taurasi, Jessica Van Der Linden
Who Should Win: Taurasi, for the same reasons she'll win "Best Female Athlete."
Who Will Win: Taurasi. She rules.
Contenders: Aaron Boone's ALCS HR, Brett Favre on MNF, Phil Mickelson on Masters 18, Stanford vs.
Who Should Win: Favre on MNF - the performance simply on its merits was incredible (best first-half
ever?), but given the context of his father's death just days before, it's even bigger than that.
Who Will Win: Mickelson on 18, which is unfair for a few reasons -- it happened more recently, and
it's not really a moment per se but a lifetime achievement award for being a career disappointment.
BEST MALE ACTION SPORTS
Contenders: Brian Deegan, Bucky Lasek, Ryan Nyquist, Chad Reed
Who Should Win: Deegan, who landed the first-ever 360 in FMX competition, en route to a
Summer X gold in freestyle motocross.
Who Will Win: Ryan Nyquist, who's probably the only X athlete that any of the non-X-following,
mainstream-sport-loving 20- and 30-somethings who use ESPN.com have ever heard of.
BEST FEMALE ACTION SPORTS
Contenders: Layne Beachley, Aleisha Cline, Dallas Friday, Hannah Teter
Who Should Win: Friday, because she's got that great name and I'm a sucker for wakeboarders. (Close
second: Beachley. How great of a last name is that for a surfer?)
Who Will Win: Snowboarder Hannah Teter, the first woman to land a 900 in halfpipe competition.
Also only 16, so she'll get that coveted teen voting block.
BEST ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY
Contenders: Cheri Blauwet, Travis Mohr, Kyle Maynard, Ron Williams
Who Should Win: No question, they all deserve to win. (I know that their supporters will hate that
answer, because it sets them apart from other athletes on this list, which is the last thing they
Who Will Win: Maynard, the high school wrestler who was born with congenital amputation (no elbows or
BEST OUTDOOR SPORTS ATHLETE
Contenders: Tina Bosworth, Denny Brauer, Mike Iaconelli, Gerald Swindle
Who Should Win: Bosworth, because the Great Outdoor Games is one of the most entertaining
sports-event innovations ever, and she's its only rep.
Who Will Win: Probably one of the three Bass guys. Couldn't tell you which is which, and I'd love
to see the thought process that non-fishing fans used when voting on this one. Boz may win from the "which one of these things is not like the other" factor alone.
Contenders: Jim Edmonds catch, Derek Fisher shot, Dante Hall punt return for TD, Saints laterals for game-winning TD.
Who Should Win: Fisher's shot arguably won the series for the Lakers; San Antonio never recovered
(and certainly would have given the Pistons a better -- if not as highly rated -- series).
Who Will Win: Fisher's shot, which most fans agree was one of the greatest finishes (particularly
combined with Duncan's almost-buzzer-beater a moment before) in NBA history.
Contenders: Birdstone over Smarty Jones, Pistons over Lakers, Marlins over Yankees, Tarver over
Who Should Win: Birdstone had longer odds (30-some to 1) than any of them, and defied the weight
of an entire nation's expectations that Smarty was a lock. And the way it happened -- that last-gasp
come-from-nowhere finish -- is highly underrated.
Who Will Win: Pistons, because they didn't just defy expectations -- they absolutely thumped them. In
five games! (Five!)
BEST CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE
Contenders: Josh Beckett G6, Tom Brady in Super Bowl, Phil Mickelson at Masters, Brad Richards in
Who Should Win: Beckett's Game 6. Take your traditional notions about "pitcher's rest" and stuff
'em where the Yankees don't shine.
Who Will Win: Brady in the Super Bowl. He's even better than Montana in the big game. You heard
Check with Page 3 again for Part 2, covering the Individual Awards.
Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His "Daily
Quickie" column appears every weekday morning.