The 22nd annual ESPY Awards to celebrate the very best in sports and popular culture went off without a hitch Wednesday night as Drake did a decent job in his first stint as host of a major television award show. However, there were times when his jokes fell a little flat and the audience chuckled in appreciation at the attempt. The fact that the rapper/actor was able to elicit the laughs that he was able to get was admirable. A highlight of his evening was the "Side Piece" song.
As has been the case at past ESPYs, shots were fired in the opening monologue at some of the ridiculousness that came from athletes like Richard Sherman and Johnny Manziel, to Lance Stephenson. Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant dethroned LeBron James at the ESPYs, as he took home the awards for Best Male Athlete and Best NBA Player. Durant also broke a record for consecutive games of scoring at least 25 points that was held by Michael Jordan. He beat out Detroit Tiger Miguel Cabrea, Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos and boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr, who was named Fighter of the Year. Manning did take home the award for Best Record-Breaking Performance by setting historical high marks for most passing touchdowns at 55, and passing yards (5,477). Mixed martial arts champion Rhonda Rousy won the award for Best Female Athlete and the ESPY for Best Play went to Auburn University’s Chris Davis for returning a missed field goal attempt 109 yards in giving the Tigers the victory over rival Alabama in the Iron Bowl, which also won the ESPY for Best Game. Michael Sam of the St. Louis Rams was given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for being the first openly gay NFL player.
The evening was actually filled with several heartfelt acceptance speeches. ESPN's Stuart Scott also delivered a very heavy speech as he was honored with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award for his battle seven year battle with cancer.
"To be honored with this ... I know I have a responsibility to never give up," Scott said. "I'm not special -- I just listened to what the man said."A particularly heart-warming aspect of the evening was the speech given by ESPN's Stuart Scott for his strength and dignity show during a seven year battle with cancer.
The following is a list of other notable winners.
• Best Moment: The U.S. men's soccer team defeating Ghana 2-1 in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
• Best Upset: Mercer, the 14th-seeded Bears toppled third-seeded Duke, 78-71, in the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
• Best Coach/Manager: Gregg Popovich
• Best Championship Performance: Kawhi Leonard, who led the Spurs past Miami in the NBA Finals, averaging 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds on 61 percent shooting.
• Best Comeback Athlete: Russell Westbrook (OKC Thunder)
• Best NHL Player: Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) led the NHL with 104 points on the season, including a league-high 68 assists.
• Best Driver: Ryan Hunter-Reay, who became the first American to win the Indianapolis 500 since 2006.
• Best International Athlete: Cristiano Ronaldo, the star forward for Portugal and Real Madrid.
• Best Male College Athlete: Doug McDermott (Creighton), winner of the Wooden, U.S. Basketball Writers Association and AP Player of the Year awards.
• Best Female College Athlete: Breanna Stewart, the Naismith Trophy winner and AP National Player of the Year who averaged 19.4 points at UConn.
• Best Male Tennis Player: Rafael Nadal
• Best Female Tennis Player: Maria Sharapova
• Best Male Golfer: Bubba Watson
• Best Female Golfer: Michelle Wie, winner of the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst.
• Best WNBA Player: Maya Moore, who led the Minnesota Lynx to the WNBA championship.
• Best MLS Player: Tim Cahill, who led the New York Red Bulls with 11 goals, five of them game winners.
• Best Male U.S. Olympian: Sage Kotsenburg, the snowboarder who became the first Olympic champion of the Sochi Games.
• Best Female U.S. Olympian, Best Female Action Sports Athlete: Jamie Anderson, who scored a near-perfect 95.25 score on her final run to win the inaugural women's snowboard slopestyle at the Sochi Olympics.
• Best Male Action Sports Athlete: Nyjah Huston successfully defended his 2013 Skateboard Street title with a gold medal at X Games Austin in 2014.
• Best Bowler: Pete Weber
• Best Jockey: Victor Espinoza rode California Chrome to victory in both the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
• Best Male Athlete with Disability: Declan Farmer, the 16-year-old helped the U.S. defeat Russia for the sled hockey gold medal at the 2014 Winter Paralympics.
• Best Female Athlete with Disability: Jamie Whitmore won gold medals in the time trial and pursuit events with world-record times at the 2014 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships.