Warriors star Stephen Curry joins Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and Masters and U.S. Open champ Jordan Spieth as finalists for The Associated Press 2015 Male Athlete of the Year award.
The AP announced the top three vote-getters Monday, and the winner will be announced Saturday.
Curry, named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award while leading the Warriors to an NBA championship, was nominated as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year — an award won last week by tennis great Serena Williams. He captured the hearts and minds of basketball fans around the globe, who were captivated by the shooting showman and his toddler daughter, Riley, as the Warriors won their first championship in 40 years. And Curry has only gotten better. Even his coach, Steve Kerr, had no idea Curry — with that meticulous shooting routine — could take it to another level as the Warriors set an NBA record for best start to a season at 24-0.
American Pharoah was the first in nearly 40 years to capture the most coveted prize in his sport. He earned $8.3 million in less than eight months, and he’s currently worth about $20 million. He could wind up as the most valuable athlete in the history of his sport. He also packed the house everywhere he showed up and put on performances that had sports fans in awe, standing and cheering, knowing they might never see another athlete like him. His game was breathtaking, his style overpowering, and he carried a sport on his shoulders for nearly the entire year. He drew record crowds even when he trained, or just walked around. He won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes — the first to pull off the feat since 1978. And in a glorious farewell run for the ages, he blew away the field in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Spieth’s accomplishments stand alone, and they are accentuated by context. The combined winning score in all four major championships this year was 58-under par. Spieth was 54-under par. He was the first wire-to-wire winner at the Masters in 39 years. He won the U.S. Open to join Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to get halfway to the Grand Slam since 1960. He was tied for the lead at the British Open with two holes to play. He played in the final group of the PGA Championship. He earned a record $22 million this year – $1 million for each of his 22 years.