Philly Special versus Nova Nation?
That’s the choice ESPN is giving Philadelphia sports fans when it comes to the 2018 ESPYs. On Wednesday morning, ESPN released a lengthy list of nominees for its long-running awards show, and facing off this year in the Best Championship Performance category are Eagles Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles and Villanova’s NCAA Men’s Final Four most outstanding player Donte DiVincenzo.
Of course, for either Foles or DiVincenzo to win, they’d have to knock off Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant, who is up for his second straight Best Championship Performance award after earning his second straight NBA Finals MVP. Also up for the award is Houston Astros outfielder George Springer, last season’s World Series MVP.
The Eagles and Wildcats are also up for the ESPY for Best Team, although they face some stiff competition, including the Stanley Cup-winning Washington Capitals, the repeating NBA champion Golden State Warriors, and the U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey team, which upset Canada to take home the gold medal at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Foles and DiVincenzo aren’t the only local athletes up for awards at this year’s ESPYs, which will be hosted by former race-car driver Danica Patrick and air live on ABC on July 18 at 8 p.m.
Sixers rookie Ben Simmons will once again face off against the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell in the Best Breakthrough Athlete category. The two are the leading contenders for NBA Rookie of the Year, and their rivalry has grown contentious after Mitchell suggested back in April that Simmons had an unfair advantage by sitting out a year with a broken foot.
“I’ll put it in perspective for people who obviously don’t play in the NBA and don’t know the life of the NBA. So, let’s say you have an exam to take on June 1 and you have a whole year to study for that exam, you’re going to get a pretty good grade on it, aren’t you?” Mitchell said. “But some people may not have all that time to prepare for that exam.”
Also competing in the Best Breakthrough Athlete category are New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, and U.S. Open tennis champion Sloane Stephens.
U.S. women’s soccer star Julie Ertz, the 2017 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year and wife of Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, is up for the network’s Best Female Athlete award. Ertz, a first-time nominee, will compete against Sylvia Fowles, a standout with the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, and two fellow Olympians, skier Mikaela Shiffrin and snowboarder Chloe Kim.
There’s also Angels star and Millville, N.J., native Mike Trout, a perennial candidate for the MLB Player of the Year award. Last season, Trout led the American League in OBP (.442), SLG (.629), OPS (1.071), and became just the seventh player in MLB history to reach 200 or more home runs before the end of his age-25 season. Trout faces off against New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, and Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer.
DiVincenzo’s teammate, 2018 Wooden Award winner Jalen Brunson, is a nominee for Best College Athlete. Brunson averaged 19.1 points and 4.7 assists, and was the undisputed leader on the court for Villanova’s third national championship. Facing off against Brunson is Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner, Stanford swimming standout Katie Ledecky, and South Carolina women’s basketball star A’ja Wilson.