Here is my own special look at the 2015 year.
Athlete of the year: This is easy for me. It’s Novak Djokovic, who reached the finals in all four majors, winning three. His lone loss was to Stan Wawrinka in the one major that eludes his resume, the French Open. For most of the year, it looked like it would be Serena Williams, but she came up short of the Grand Slam when she lost in the U.S. Open semifinals. And when the dust settled, Djokovic had the better year. Another leading contender throughout the year was Ronda Rousey, but her stunning loss to Holly Holm erased that and put major question marks around her legacy.
Best accomplishment of the year: American Pharaoh winning the Triple Crown. It was a year where athletes like Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Jordan Spieth flirted with their sports’ Grand Slams, American Pharaoh actually did make history. Now many people were upset Sports Illustrated didn’t name the horse it’s Sportsperson of the Year despite winning the reader’s poll. Like the magazine, I didn’t believe a horse should win that award. However, it really does deserve to be recognized.
Upset of the year: This is tough, because there were so many. Right now, I lean towards Roberta Vinci beating Serena Williams at the US Open semifinal. Williams hadn’t really played well most of the year, but she was still dominant.
Other big upsets to consider are: Holm beating Rousey and Tyson Fury upending Wladimir Klitschko to end a nine-and-a-half year reign as heavyweight champion.
Worst event of the year: Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. There was the disorganization with the promotion, as well as the vendettas Mayweather’s people had against certain members of the media. There was Pacquiao with a shoulder injury and the Nevada State Athletic Commission refusing to let him a cortisone shot, the suspicious IV that Mayweather had after the weight ins, and of course a really bad fight. It was the richest fight in the history of boxing pay per view, but was so bad that many fans filed lawsuits.
Worst controversy of the year: Deflategate. Don’t we have time for anything better? Does anyone really care how much air is in a football? And how much of an impact does it really make on the outcome of a game? Yet, the NFL turned on its biggest star, Tom Brady, and tarnished his reputation, the Super Bowl and the integrity of the league. This is part of a long line of blunders by Commissioner Roger Goodell, who is making a case as the worst commissioner of a league.
Best team to watch: Golden State Warriors. In a league that was decimated by too-green rookies and too many clear-out offenses, the Warriors are a breath of fresh air. What makes them so fun to watch is the way the move the ball, making them reminiscent of the NBA’s golden years in the 80s with Magic Johnson. But there has never been a team as aggressive with the 3-point shooting. Last season, they dispelled the notion that a jump shooting team can’t win the NBA title. Now, with their hot start to the season, they could be changing the way teams play in the NBA.
Worst owners: San Francisco 49ers. Who runs off a successful coach like Jim Harbaugh, who led your team to three consecutive NFC title games, including one Super Bowl appearance. Then they wind up with Jim Tomsula, an assistant who really wasn’t ready to be a head coach. And when things go bad, you run off the quarterback who led you to the Super Bowl appearance. It’s bad business.
People might want to point to the Philadelphia 76ers, who have tanked their way to being horrible. But the 49ers owners took a good thing and made it horrible. And it’s too bad because the Bay Area fans, particularly the 49ers fans, deserve better.
Embarrassing power move: That came with LSU trying to run out Les Miles. Floating it out there for a week that he will be fired only turned the nation against the school’s administrators and alumni. And when Miles is carried off the field in their last game, they had no choice but to keep Miles. There are reports that LSU was hoping to get Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, but that wouldn’t have made sense for him. Now, Les has even more power than ever. As for the AD, have fun watching your back for the rest of your time in Baton Rouge.
Worst awards moment: Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPYs. This year, the award went to Caitlyn Jenner over Lauren Hill, the college basketball player who courageously battled brain cancer to create awareness and raise money. It’s completely up to ESPN who it picks for the award. If I had my choice, I would have picked Hill, because she did inspire me. But to pit the two against each other for the award was just ugly. Jenner gave a voice to people who were not being heard. She is definitely in the spirit of what the award stands for. To claim that Jenner was only there to garner ratings or for some other reason was unfair and wrong.
Best performance in a championship game: Carli Lloyd scoring three goals in the first half to lead the US women’s national soccer team to the World Cup title.