2015 Athlete of the Year

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December, and every athlete of the month for 2015 is here.

Serena Williams.  Runners-up: Stephen Curry, American Pharoah.

Williams won the SI award which drew some fire from the horse people which drew some fire from the identity politics people. This was a really tight race and defensible arguments could be made about any of the three.  Williams won 3 grand slams (one more than Jordan Spieth, if he draws your vote). It's a career year in a career filled with similar domination.  This isn't a career acknowledgement, but it's hard not to have some type of context for her 2015.

The Warriors (who happen to be my club) were one of the great teams of all time in the first half of the year, and then got off to the greatest ever start in the back half of the year.  Curry was arguably not basketball's best player in early 2015 (Harden got my MVP vote and while Curry was the best player in the playoffs, he wasn't the best in the title series) but there's no argument about what he's done so far this season.  If Williams wins the grand slam its easy, if the Warriors are only good in the current NBA season with Curry just being among the NBA's best, then it probably takes him out of this conversation - but neither of those things happened and so its a photo finish.

Which leads us to Pharoah - a Triple Crown+Breeders Cup is the most impressive accomplishment of the year; a horse isn't a person but a horse isn't a car either; I'd have no problem at all with a vote for Pharoah as athlete of the year; for me, he gets nosed out here.

I've been doing this my whole life really, maybe starting as long ago as '79; I have the full records since 1990 (someplace in the blog I posted each athlete of the month+runners-up for the years prior to publication).  Here is each winner of my Athlete of the Year Award since 1990.

1990: Joe Montana
1991: Michael Jordan
1992: Mario Lemieux
1993: Michael Jordan
1994: George Foreman
1995: Hakeem Olajuwon
1996: Michael Jordan
1997: Tiger Woods
1998: Mark McGwire
1999: Tiger Woods
2000: Tiger Woods
2001: Barry Bonds
2002: Barry Bonds
2003: Lance Armstrong
2004: Peyton Manning
2005: Reggie Bush
2006: Roger Federer
2007: Tom Brady
2008: Usain Bolt
2009: Manny Pacquiao
2010: Maya Moore
2011: Aaron Rodgers
2012: LeBron James
2013: LeBron James
2014: Madison Bumgarner
2015: Serena Williams

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