LeBron leads the way with 3 ESPY Awards

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LeBron leads the way with 3 ESPY Awards

From Comcast SportsNet
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- LeBron James collected the biggest trophy of his career when the Miami Heat won the NBA championship. That title run netted him some more hardware at the ESPY Awards. James won a leading three individual trophies, including male athlete of the year, and shared in another at the 20th annual show celebrating the year's best athletes and moments in sports. He wasn't on hand to accept because he was in Las Vegas with the rest of the U.S. national team preparing for the upcoming London Olympics. James outpolled tennis player Novak Djokovic, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in fan voting for male athlete honors. He also won in the championship performance and NBA player categories, while sharing in the best team award, with Juwan Howard and Mike Miller accepting for the Heat. "He's had a magnifying glass on him since he was 17 years old and I think he's handled himself really, really well," Miller said of James backstage. "Unbelievable teammate, unbelievable father, so those are the most important things. He's just a likeable guy. He's a great basketball player to boot." Baylor basketball star Brittney Griner won two trophies, including female athlete of the year in which she beat out French Open champion Maria Sharapova, skier Lindsay Vonn and soccer player Abby Wambach. Quarterback Robert Griffin III, who like Griner starred at Baylor, won male college athlete honors. Griner took female college athlete honors for leading the Lady Bears to a 40-0 record and the NCAA championship. "Just excited. I wouldn't be here without Title IX," Griner said backstage. "Everything is just coming together, and it feels good to be here." Los Angeles was well represented, with Kings goalie Jonathan Quick winning best NHL player after helping the franchise win its first Stanley Cup title, and Galaxy star David Beckham earning best MLS player honors. The Kings won for best upset after their run to the NHL championship as an eighth seed in the Western Conference. Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton won as best MLB player, while Rodgers earned best NFL player honors. Mario Gutierrez, who rode I'll Have Another to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, won as best jockey. Skateboarder and snowboarder Shaun White won his fifth consecutive ESPY for male action sports athlete. Host Rob Riggle of "The Daily Show" and "The Hangover" fame zinged some of the famous faces in his opening monologue. He touched on the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal in singling out quarterback Drew Brees, who won for record-breaking performance after shattering Dan Marino's single-season passing mark. Brees and the Saints are haggling over his contract with a Monday deadline looming. "If only the Saints had some sort of fund that they could pull extra cash from to reward people for doing things on the field," Riggle cracked as Brees looked down from his seat, and the crowd roared. Riggle teased Anthony Davis of Kentucky, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft known for his connected eyebrows. Davis recently trademarked the phrases "Fear the Brow" and "Raise the Brow." "It looks like two caterpillars just making sweet love on your forehead," Riggle told Davis. "Is that like one of those Mr. Potato Head eyebrows you just take on and off?" Riggle skewered Jeremy Lin and the "Linsanity" he created playing for the New York Knicks, which won Lin the trophy for breakthrough athlete. "What a heartwarming story," he said. "It's so refreshing to see a young Asian kid graduate from Harvard, move to New York and make a ton of money." The Arthur Ashe Courage award went to former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, who revealed her diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's last August. She retired in April after 38 years. Summitt's son, Tyler, escorted her to the stage to accept the trophy from Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, who went to college at Tennessee, while the Nokia Theatre crowd stood applauding. "I am deeply touched," she told the crowd. "I'm going to keep on keepin' on I promise you that." The Jimmy V Award for Perseverance was given to former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand. He is recovering from a spinal cord injury that ended his playing career. "My dream is to get back on my feet and walk again," he told the audience after a standing ovation. "You can best believe that I'll never give up."

Otani to MLB after 2017 season? 'We discussed the possibility'

Otani to MLB after 2017 season? 'We discussed the possibility'

TOKYO -- Japanese pitcher Shohei Otani says he could move to the major leagues after the 2017 season.

The 22-year-old right-hander, who has also put up big numbers at the plate, signed a $2.37 million contract for next season with the Nippon Ham Fighters on Monday.

Otani will not become eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season and will need the Fighters' approval to negotiate with a major league club through the posting system before that time.

He says "we discussed the possibility of me going. ... The club will respect my wishes whenever I decide I want to go."

Otani went 10-4 as a pitcher and batted .322 with a career-high 22 home runs this season for the Fighters.

New rules in MLB's collective bargaining agreement make it more difficult for players like Otani to get paid big bucks right away. But there is a definite curiosity about his abilities, even from those who haven't seen him play much.

"I don't know which side you're worried about more: his ability to pitch or hit," former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Hopefully he stays healthy because he's an addition whatever league he winds up with, whether he stays in Japan or comes to the U.S. he's certainly going to be an exciting player for people to look forward to watching."

Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was reluctant to talk about Otani because he's under contract in Japan. But he's intrigued about Otani's ability to pitch and hit.

"We have reports on him," Dombrowski said. "Do I think a player could be a two-way player? Yeah, it could happen. It is very difficult? Yes. But I'm not saying that there's not a player out there that can't do that because some of them are rare, rare guys. Babe Ruth could do it. He was pretty good. So it can be done."

Jackson, Watson headline five 2016 Heisman finalists

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USATSI/AP

Jackson, Watson headline five 2016 Heisman finalists

NEW YORK -- Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is a Heisman Trophy finalist for the second consecutive season, joining Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers and Oklahoma teammates Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook.

The finalists were announced Monday on ESPN and the award will be presented Saturday in New York.

Watson finished third in last year's voting, won by Alabama running back Derrick Henry. Just like last year, he heads to New York not as the favorite but as the contender coming on strong at the end. Mayfield finished fourth last season, but did not get an invite to Heisman presentation in New York.

Peppers is the first defensive player to be a Heisman finalists since Notre Dame linebacker Manti Teo was a distant runner-up to Johnny Manziel in 2012.

Westbrook and Mayfield are the first teammates to be finalists since Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart from Southern California finished first and third, respectively in 2005.

Finalists are determined by the margins between vote-getters. The ballots of more than 900 voters, which included former Heisman winners, were due Monday.

Watson entered as the preseason favorite in what looked like a strong field of contenders, but Jackson quickly swept past them all to be front-runner. He was brilliant for the first two months of the season and Louisville was looking like a College Football Playoff contender.

It seemed as if Jackson would be a runaway Heisman winner, but the 15th-ranked Cardinals lost their final two games of the season. He was sacked 11 times in a lopsided loss at Houston and he committed four turnovers in a last-second loss against Kentucky.

Watson, meanwhile, has surged since Clemson's only loss to Pitt in mid-November. He also had the benefit of playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game last Saturday and took full advantage of the spotlight. Watson threw three touchdown passes and ran for two scores in a 42-35 victory against Virginia Tech to seal a spot in the College Football Playoff.

The raw numbers still favor Jackson, who is second in the nation in total yards per game (410.7) and has accounted for 51 touchdowns (21 rushing TDs and 30 TD passes) with 13 turnovers (nine INTs and four lost fumbles) in 12 games. Watson averages 341.8 yards per game and has 43 touchdowns (six rushing and 37 passing) with 15 turnovers (all interceptions) in 13 games.

When the two met on Oct. 1 at Clemson in what was one of the season's most entertaining games, Watson threw for 306 yards and five touchdowns, ran for 91 and was picked off three times. Jackson had 295 yards passing, 162 rushing and accounted for three touchdowns with one interception. Clemson won 42-36.

Mayfield and Westbrook have been a dynamic combination, and late in the season No. 7 Oklahoma started a dual campaign to promote both for the Heisman. Mayfield is on pace to break the NCAA record for passer efficiency rating in a season (197.75). Westbrook has 74 catches for 1,465 yards and 16 touchdowns and has more receptions covering at least 20 yards (26) than any receiver in the country.

Peppers played defense, offense and special teams for Michigan, lining up all over the field.