Golden State Warriors basketball star Kevin Durant and American swimmer Katie Ledecky have been named the United States Sports Academy’s Male and Female Athletes of the Month for June.
Durant was named the MVP of the NBA Finals series after scoring a team-high 39 points in the Warriors’ 129-120 series-clinching win against Cleveland on 12 June 2017. Durant scored at least 30 points in each of the series’ five games, averaging 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. He also shot 55.5 percent from the field and made 47.4 percent of his three-pointers.
Ledecky won three national titles at the Phillips 66 National Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., on 27 June 2017. Ledecky won the 800 meter freestyle race in 8:11.50, the fastest time in the world in the event this year. She also won the 200 meter race with a time of 1:54.84, the fastest time in the world this year, and won the 400 with a time of 3:58.44, the third-fastest time ever.
The second place finisher on the men’s side was Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal and third place went to Canadian hockey player Sidney Crosby.
Nadal won his 10th French Open title by defeating Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in straight sets in the championship round on 11 June 2017 in Paris. Nadal has now won 15 Grand Slam titles, which puts him in second place all time behind Roger Federer’s 18.
Crosby, the Pittsburgh captain, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player of the playoffs as the Penguins defeated the Nashville Predators 2-0 on 11 June 2017 to win the Stanley Cup for the second consecutive season. It was Crosby’s second consecutive Conn Smythe Trophy. Crosby, a native of Canada, registered 19 assists and 27 total points in 24 postseason games for the Penguins.
The second place finisher on the women’s side was American basketball player Diana Taurasi and third place went to American softball player Shay Knighten.
Taurasi, of the Phoenix Mercury, broke the WNBA all-time scoring record when she recorded 19 points against the Los Angeles Sparks on 18 June 2017. Taurasi’s 7,494 career points surpassed Tina Thompson’s 7,488. Taurasi reached the mark in just 13 seasons, while Thompson’s record had been set in 17.
Knighten, a University of Oklahoma softball player, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Women’s College World Series after hitting .350 with seven hits, four runs, two doubles, one home run and eight RBIs for the Sooners, who defeated the University of Florida in a best-of-three series to win the championship. Knighten’s three-run double put the Sooners up for good in the final game of the series, which Oklahoma won 5-4 on 6 June 2017.
Each month, the public is invited to participate in the Academy’s worldwide Athlete of the Month program by nominating athletes and then voting online during the first week of every month. The online votes are used to guide the Academy selection committee in choosing the male and female monthly winners, who then become eligible for selection to the prestigious Athlete of the Year ballot. A worldwide public vote on the annual ballot is used to guide the committee in making the final selection.
The Athlete of the Year Award is part of the United States Sports Academy’s Awards of Sport program, which each year serves as “A Tribute to the Artist and the Athlete.” The Academy presents the awards to pay tribute to those who have made significant contributions to sport, in categories as diverse as the artist and the athlete in several different arenas of sport.
The awards honor exemplary achievement in coaching, all-around athletic performance, courage, humanitarian activity, fitness, and media, among others. The Academy’s American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) annually recognizes these men and women through its Sport Artist of the Year, Honorary Doctorates, Medallion Series, Distinguished Service Awards, Outstanding Athletes, and Alumni of the Year awards. This is the 33rd year of the Academy’s Awards of Sport program.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports.
Founded in 1984, ASAMA is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history, and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of more than 1,700 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints and photographs. The museum is open free to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. For more information, go to www.asama.org.
The Academy is based in Daphne, Ala. For more information, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.
By Eric Mann
Eric Mann is the communications assistant at the United States Sports Academy.