Michael Phelps shown love at ESPY Awards 2009

Olympics, LA Lakers and Pittsburgh Steelers highlight the winners at the ESPY Awards 2009

By Joe Anello


NEW YORK (RPRN) 7/20/2009-
-For those of you who thought they were watching the 2008 Summer Olympics all over again, don’t worry. You’re not caught in a temporal time-warp. Instead of gold medals, Michael Phelps was taking home ESPY Awards at last Wednesday’s taping.

Airing last night, the 17th Annual ESPY Awards was hosted by Samuel L. Jackson at L.A.’s Nokia Theatre. Phelps was the man of the night, thanks to his eight-gold medal performance at the Beijing games and some dedicated fan voting. He took home five 2009 ESPYs, including the headlining Best Male Athlete, beating out Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and NASCARs Jimmie Johnson.

Phelps’s other awards came for Best Moment for his relay team’s dramatic finish, Best Championship Performance, Best Record Breaking Performance, and Best US Male Olympian. Continuing the Olympic love-fest, some of Phelps’s US brethren took home ESPY’s of their own.

Gymnast Nastia Liukin was voted Best Female Athlete for her gold-medal showing in the 2008 Olympic Individual All-Around competition.

Her teammate, Shawn Johnson, won for Best US Female Olympian. 42-year-old swimmer Dara Torres was awarded Best Comeback, as she sat out during the 2004 games, only to return with a silver-vengeance in the 2008 contests.

The NBA and NFL were shown some love as well at the 2009 ESPYs, with their respective champions winning some additional hardware.

Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes won Best Play for their Super Bowl XLIII winning touchdown connection. That same battle against the Arizona Cardinals won Best Game.

Fresh off their five-game series victory over the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers continued the momentum in their hometown. Coach Phil Jackson won the year’s Best Coach-Manager award while his team received the night-ending Best Team trophy.

Here are some other awards of note:

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was voted Best Breakthrough Athlete for his tremendous rookie season. Florida Gator quarterback Tim Tebow and Connecticut Huskie forward Maya Moore received Best Male and Female College Athlete.

Tiger Woods was voted Best Golfer, Albert Pujols Best Baseball Player, and Roger Federer and Serena Williams Best Male / Female Tennis Player.

Nelson Mandela was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, and Northern State college basketball Coach Don Meyer received the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.

Meyer, the NCAA’s all-time men’s winning-est basketball coach, was hospitalized in September 2008 after a near-fatal car crash that took one of his legs. During emergency surgery following the accident, it was discovered that he had cancer in his liver and legs.

His arduous road to recovery exemplifies the late Jim Valvano’s courageous “Don’t ever give up” speech at the first annual ESPYs in 1992. Not even two months later, Valvano died of cancer. The Jimmy V Award is named in his honor.

Our Take:

It’s great to see the Olympics getting some well-deserved love. It apparently has not been long enough for anyone to forget how Phelps’s historic run made us all eagerly stare at our screens. Marijuana or not, the fans still love him.

While Nastia Liukin completely deserved to win the award, I must say it was lukewarm competition at best. No offense to Natalie Coughlin, but the only US swimmer of note whose name wasn’t Michael Phelps was Dara Torres. College Basketball’s Maya Moore did not have the hype of 2004 winner Diana Taurasi or the 2008 recipient Candace Parker. Serena Williams and the WNBA’s Parker were the only marquee names on the ballot.

In funny and fitting fashion, the only MLB player to win an award was Albert Pujols. He took home Best Baseball Player. Hah. Steroids have left a bad taste in fans’ mouths, despite their increased attendance.

Still, solid ESPY award show. Since it was taped ahead of time, they could edit down the extraneous jibber-jabber and give me more shots of uber-gorgeous Danica Patrick. That’s all I needed.

What about you? Did you vote for the ESPY’s? Did your favorite athletes take home the trophies?

(Oh, and Kobe got robbed.)

Source: College News