A fun guy has been named the Associated Press 2019 Male Athlete of the Year.
Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard received the prestigious award on Friday, finishing ahead of current NBA MVP and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes, and tennis star Rafael Nadal.
Leonard is the fifth NBA player to be named AP Male Athlete of the Year since the award's inception in 1931. Larry Bird won once in 1983, Michael Jordan won three times in the '90s, then LeBron James replicated that feat with three wins of his own in 2013, 2016, and 2018. Stephen Curry won the award once in 2015.
"Kawhi's pretty steady,'' San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told AP. "He's not a big talker. He doesn't try to find the limelight or anything like that. He's just a good guy who wanted to be good.'' Popovich would know: He is Leonard's former coach.
The 28-year-old brought Canada its first Larry O'Brien trophy this year. His game-winning shot to knock the Philadelphia 76ers out of Game 7 during the second round of the NBA playoffs was one of the year's most memorable moments.
Simone Biles, simply one of the greatest gymnasts ever, was announced 2019 Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year. How she carried herself while the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal unfolded also played a part in the honor.
"I realize now with the platform I have it will be powerful if I speak up and speak for what I believe in," the 22-year-old told AP. "It’s an honor to speak for those that are less fortunate. So if I can be a voice for them in a positive manner, then of course I’m going to do whatever I can."