This past year in sports has given us some noteworthy performances and performers. Awarding some of the greatest moments in sports in 2015 isn’t as easy as it seems with the litany to choose from. Here are some incredibly worthy recipients:
Awarding Some of the Greatest Moments in Sports in 2015
Female Athlete of The Year: Serena Williams
Although her bid for the calendar year Grand Slam came up short, the 34-year-old still had an outstanding 2015, compiling a 53-3 record and captured her second Serena Slam (dating back to the 2014 U.S. Open). Despite withdrawing from the China Open and Year-End Championships, Williams won six titles and kept a firm hold on her No. 1 ranking while recording a 26-match winning streak in majors. She shows no signs of slowing down in 2016.
Male Athlete of The Year: Victor Espinoza and American Pharoah
Espinoza had come up short of winning the Triple Crown in 2002 with War Emblem and in 2014 aboard California Chrome, both times losing in New York at the Belmont Stakes. In 2015, that all changed as American Pharoah edged out Firing Line by a length at the Kentucky Derby, dominated the Preakness Stakes by 7 and a half lengths on a muddy, sloppy track and became the 12th Triple Crown winner in horse racing history with a 5 and a half length win at the Belmont, the 4th largest margin ever by a Triple Crown winner. For good measure, he capped off his racing career by winning the Breeders Cup Classic to complete the first ever “Grand Slam” of horse racing.
Team of The Year: Golden State Warriors
Coming into the 2014-15 season, the Warriors were fresh off of a 51-win season, but a first-round loss to the Clippers in the 2013-14 NBA Playoffs. After 3 years at the helm, Mark Jackson was fired and former Bulls and Spurs guard Steve Kerr was brought in as the team’s new coach. All Golden State did was win 67 games, dominate the playoffs with a 16-5 record and defeated LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals to win their first title in 40 years. Kerr was runner-up for NBA Coach of The Year and Stephen Curry won the NBA Most Valuable Player award.
Upset of The Year: Wisconsin defeats Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament National Semifinals
After starting the year 38-0, Kentucky was 2 wins away from becoming the first undefeated National Champion since Indiana in 1976. After surviving Notre Dame in the regional finals, the Wildcats faced Wisconsin in the Final Four for the 2nd straight year. After defeating the Badgers in 2014, Wisconsin got the ultimate revenge, knocking off the Wildcats 71-64 behind Frank Kaminsky’s 20 points and 11 rebounds. Holding a 64-63 lead, Kaminsky and Bronson Koenig made their final 7 free throws combined to seal the historic upset and send Wisconsin to their first National Championship game since 1941.
Coach of The Year: John Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning
Cooper had led the Lightning to the playoffs in 2013-14, his first full season as Tampa Bay head coach. However, the Lightning were swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round. I n 2014-15, Cooper guided the Bolts to their highest win(50) and point(108) total in franchise history. The Lightning defeated Detroit in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 7 games, winning Game 6 on the road and Game 7 at home to stave off elimination. After exacting revenge from the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 6 games, the Lightning advanced to their first Stanley Cup Finals since the 2003-04 season with a 7-game series victory over the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Although they would lose in the Cup Finals to Chicago in 6 games, Cooper’s calm, steady hand was the biggest reason for Tampa Bay’s spectacular campaign.
Game/Match of The Year
James Ward defeats John Isner in the Davis Cup
Great Britain had not won consecutive matches against the United States in Davis Cup competition in 80 years. Andy Murray had defeated Donald Young in 4 sets to stake the Brits to a 1-0 lead. Ward, ranked #111 in the world, lost the first set to Isner in a tiebreak 7-6(7-4) after having a mini-break and seeing a lucky net cord give the American the set. Isner was able to capture his only break of the match in the second set and take it 7-5, going up 2 sets to 0 and looking poised to level the tie at 1 match apiece. Undaunted, Ward broke Isner for the only time in the match to take take the third set 6-3 and stay alive. The Englishman then won a fourth set tiebreak 7-6 (7-3) to force a fifth and deciding set. In the final set, Isner saved 3 match points at 5-4, 10-9 and 11-10 down. Ward summarily saved 2 break points 11-all and broke Isner at love at 14-13 to win the set 15-13 and put GB up 2-0 in the tie. This match would prove to be the catalyst for Great Britain as they went on to the Davis Cup championship for the first time since 1936, the 79-year gap the longest interval between titles in the competition’s history.