SI Awards Show Will Celebrate Social Justice Heroes But Won’t Lack Controversy

The drama that has surrounded Sports Illustrated’s picks for Sportsperson of the Year will continue throughout the month of December.

The five honorees were announced this week and Black Twitter was not happy that Breanna Stewart, a white WNBA player who was also a prominent voice of the league’s newly constructed Social Justice Council, was given the award in a year that so many Black women have stepped up and sacrificed to fight social injustice,  police brutality, systemic oppression and gender inequities in society.

On the heels of debuting its highly anticipated 2020 Sportsperson of the Year issue, Sports Illustrated, in partnership with ABG Entertainment and Medium Rare, today announced the launch of “The Sports Illustrated Awards” (The SI Awards) and revealed that the show will welcome five Sportsperson of The Year honorees: LeBron James, Naomi Osaka, Patrick Mahomes, Stewie, and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

While Stewy has been a strong ally in the fight against social injustice and has persevered through a career-threatening injury personally to win a NBA title and Finals MVP inside the WUBBLE, WNBA players such as Natasha Cloud and Renee Montgomery, just to name a few, went as far as to opt out the season.

READ MORE: WNBA’s Natasha Cloud Talks Race With “The Hate U Give” Author Angie Thomas

Cloud’s dedication to the struggle and her past community activism in the Washington, DC area as it pertains to gun violence and keeping kids safe, makes her a perfect choice.

“We are George Floyd. We are Breonna Taylor. We are Ahmaud Arbery,” Cloud told reporters back in January.

“I watched the (George Floyd) whole video for 8 minutes and 46 seconds … and, I mean, I had tears rolling down my face,” Cloud recalled. “You literally see every part of that man losing his life and being murdered in broad daylight in front of people. I was sick. You go from seeing him telling the officer, ‘I can’t breathe’ to him calling out for his mom. You see his nose start bleeding. You see him take his last breath. You see him dead on the ground. You see them just throw his dead body on a gurney. It shook me to my core. …

“I didn’t need to know George to feel shook, because I am George Floyd. … Every Black American, man or woman — we are him. That is the reality in which we live every single day.”

Via swishappeal:

“The WNBA — a league where Black women are more than 80 percent of active players — was prepared to meet this moment.

Led by players’ union president Nneka Ogwumike, the WNBPA demanded a season dedicated to social justice.

As inspired by Angel McCoughtry, players wore Breonna Taylor’s name on the backs of their jersey.

READ MORE: Why Vanity Fair’s Breonna Taylor Tribute Is Tone-Deaf To The #SayHerName Movement

Throughout the season, they additionally honored the lives of other Black women killed by the police.

When Atlanta Dream co-owner and Georgia Senate candidate Kelly Loeffler condemned the WNBA’s social justice efforts, Elizabeth Williams and other members of the Dream responded by endorsing her opponent, Rev. Raphael Warnock.”

READ MORE: Kelly Loeffler’s Politics Don’t Jive With WNBA’s Black Lives Matter Initiatives

It’s understandable why some would question SI’s choice considering the moment and the abundance of candidates.

So on December 19th, expect some more grumblings. The show begins at 7:00 PM ET and will stream across on Facebook via the Sports Illustrated Facebook Page and shared by the Sports on Facebook page.

The event will be simulcast by exclusive distribution partner LiveXLive (NASDAQ:LIVX) across their O&O and social platforms plus 20-plus platforms including SportsIllustratedAwards.com, LiveXLive, YouTube, Twitch, TikTok, Twitter, and more.

A reimagined format of the annual Sportsperson of the Year Awards, the new prime-time broadcast will spotlight some of the most disruptive and courageous athletes in the world with new awards including Player of the Year, Team of The Year, Inspiration of The Year, and many more.

 The primetime event will broadcast live from Las Vegas and will be hosted by Richard Jefferson, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, Lindsey Vonn, and Cari Champion.

 The show will feature musical performances by Steve Aoki and Gucci Mane

The General Insurance Virtual Fan Wall will give fans an exclusive front-row seat to “The SI Awards.” The General Insurance will also present a special performance from Shaquille O’Neal aka DJ Diesel.

Key Awards Nominees As Chosen By The Editors of Sports Illustrated 

Sportsperson of The Year (Winners): Brianna Stewart, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, LeBron James, Patrick Mahomes

Best Dressed Presented by JCPenney (Nominees): Deandre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr, Russell Westbrook, Skylar Diggins

Breakout of the Year Presented by Emsculpt Neo (Nominees): Donovan Mitchell, Jamal Murray, Myisha Hines-Allen, Shane Bieber

Game of the Year Presented by Brooks Brothers (Nominees): NBA Finals Game 3, Stanley Cup Game 4, Super Bowl LIV, World Series Game 4

Inspiration of the Year (Nominees): Chris Nikic, Jaylen Brown, Sarah Fuller, Maya Moore

Muhammad Ali Legacy Award Presented by Wheaties (Winner): LeBron James

Play of the Year (Nominees): Alec Mills ‘No Hitter’ on Sept 13, Bam Adebayo Block in the NBA Finals Game 1, John Rahm’s 66-footer in the BMW Championship, Steven Stamkos Goal in Stanley Cup Game 3

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.