The 2006 SI Sportsman of the Year Is …

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Dwyane Wade. That’s right, the Miami Heat shooting guard has been selected by the venerable editors at Sports Illustrated as the 2006 Sportsman of the Year.

SI Managing Editor Terry McDonell would not confirm or deny the selection, which is set to be announced on Monday.

Wade is one-third of the NBA’s Holy Trinity: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Wade. Collectively, they’ve rescued the NBA from its post-Jordan haze and re-energized interest in the league. (Some say they saved it.) They graced the cover of the magzine’s NBA Preview Issue, which pretty much signifies SI believes the game is snugly in their hands.

Now this.

Why Wade? Last spring (or was it summer?) he led the Heat to its first NBA title. He averaged 34.7 point per game, outshined teammate Shaquille O’Neal and was named the NBA Finals MVP.

Off the court, Wade is the boy you want your daughter to bring home. He a devoted Christian husband and father of a four-year-old son, Zaire Blessing Dwyane Wade. He and his wife were married shortly after their son was born during Wade’s sophomore season at Marquette. “It gave something I’d been searching for all of my life,” Wade has been quoted as saying of his wife and son. “To have a person who believes in you so much and a child with a light in his eyes gave me the foundation I needed to flourish. My wife and son are invaluable to me. She inspires me, and our marriage has helped me mature and be responsible.”

All great stuff. D-Wade is a gem, a worthy Air heir, even as part of a trio. But Sportsman of the Year?

SI’s editors overlooked a few obvious candidates, some for good reason, others not so much so:

* Roger Federer – The most obvious oversight. The ten-time Grand Slam Tennis champion won 95% of his matchesin 2006. He is undoubtedly the best athlete never to have appeared on the SI cover, and this year he was the most dominant athlete on the planet not named Tiger. He won three of the four majors (the Australian, Wimbledon and U.S. Open) for the second time (also in 2004) and reached the finals of the French. Why not the No. 1 Tennis player in the world? Because, alas, SI’s editors, in my humble view, are swayed too much by the fact that tennis covers don’t sell. [Full disclosure: I spent 11 years at SI, most recently as an Assistant Managing Editor, a position I held for three years until December 2005.]

Frankly, when it comes to the selection of the SOY – the person who most embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement on and off the playing field – I do not believe newsstand sales should matter. But hey, that’s just me.

Curiously, the editors called Federer “The MJ of tennis” in their November 27 issue. Federer was the subject of the Scorecard lead, in which wonderful writer L. Jon Wertheim noted: “Exclude all the rankings points Federer garnered at the four majors…and he would still be the SATP’s top-ranked player in 2006. What the hell, here’s one more statistic: Federer’s points lead is so commanding that the differential between him and No. 2Rafael Nadal is larger than the gap between Nadal and the 50th-ranked player, Marc Gicquel.” L. Jon added: “He’s still squarely inhis prime and could easily rule the sport for several more years.” Was this a pre-apology for not being selected SOY?

Tiger Woods – Is there a year when he can’t be named SOY. Woods solidified his status as the most dominant athlete of our era by winning two Grand Slam events in a wrenching emotion season. Woods lost his father, mentor and friend just after the Masters and after struggling at the U.S. Open (He admits he came back too soon) he so spanked folks for the remainder of the year you almost felt sorry for them. Almost. Of course Woods has already been SOY twice certainly be so once again when he breaks Jack Nicklaus’s record.

Andre Agassi – If Federer has earned the award in 2000, the last year the Swiss genius won three Slams, this would be an easy call. But to name the wondrous American, who retired this year after a stellar career before ever choosing the top player in the world would be a bit, well, wrong-footed.

Buck O’Neil – The joyful face of baseball died this season and it could have been a nice, a nostalgic pick. But even too ‘old-old-school for SI.

Barbaro – Please.

Who’s Your Pick?

Congrats, D-Wade.

Visitors to SI.com can see who the mag’s writer thought should be SOY.

Baller: D-Wade, clearly.

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21 thoughts on “The 2006 SI Sportsman of the Year Is …

  1. dwil says:

    Roy-
    How true. The guy whose nickname on the ATP Tour used to be “Club Fed because he’d “go on vacation” in the middle of a match, was easily the most dominant athlete in the world this past year. Yes, Federer was even more dominant that Tiger was in golf. Fed finished the season with 12 titles and a 92-5 record. Ninety-two and Five! And he was the first player ever to win 10 or more titles three years in a row. Finally, Federer works dilligently through his Roger Federer Foundation, to aid disadvantage children in South Africa.

    D-Wade had a nice season, but his season on and off the court pales in comparison to Fed’s.

  2. D-Wade is cool, but not the Sportsman of the Year. Not by a long shot. I would roll with Zidane, or maybe Tiger (who simply dominated). Outstanding citizen, family man, etc. but D-Wade had Shaq. D-Wade without Shaq is not so great.

  3. Renee says:

    Congratulations to Wade!

  4. Daryl says:

    D-Wade has my vote. He is a true professional, and he represents the NBA well! A great role model for today’s youths.

  5. Chris says:

    Maybe SI is waiting for Federer to win the Grand Slam. Then again, Steffi Graf won the Grand Slam in 1988, and SI chose Orel Hershiser as SOY that year.

  6. Lucy says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Federer deserved it this year if ever anybody did. I know he plays tennis, I know he’s not American… but as somebody once said about Nicklaus and golf, he’s a legend in his spare time. THREE SLAMS! For the second time! The Wimbledon/US Open triple double! Etc etc.

    And he’s a dude. He wins the friggin’ ATP sportsmanship award. He embodies what SOY should be about..

  7. David Sharkey says:

    Not picking Roger Federer this year is a tremendous oversight. But then again considering all his accomplishments these past three years, he has not once appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. I’m not sure what Roger has to do to get the recognitionhe so richly deserves.

  8. Glen Janney says:

    I am hoping Dwayne Wade is incorrect. I haven’t seen it verified anywhere else as of 9AM Monday. I am a Heat fan, but c’mon! Choosing Dwayne Wade would be almost as bad as selecting Tom Brady last year.
    With how the US media adores Tiger, and now that he and Roger are Best Friends Forever, I was predicting they BOTH would make the cover this year. The only sports fans in this country who can’t get excited about Roger Federer are those who’ve never seen him play.

    Glen Janney
    Miami Beach

  9. NYWarrior says:

    Bravo, Dwyane.

    Wade gets this award as much for his sublime play on the court as for his off-the court demeanor. The NBA needed a facelift, and Wade fits.

    Federer — an equally strong candidate

  10. Ann Riggs says:

    I think the clue to the selection is in the “NBA Trinity” idea — that the NBA has had a kind of renaissance the past couple of years, due to LeBron James, Carmello Anthony, and Dwyane Wade. If that’s the story — who is the guy? LeBron gets all the press, Wade has the ring — and the NBA Finals MVP performance. If the Heat had fallen, one could argue for the Three as One SOY; the women’s US Soccer team was named a few years ago, I believe. I think Federer lost out because, although it’s an individual award, tennis overall wasn’t the story. Ironic — Wade gets the individual award, because the NBA is the story.

  11. I think it should have been Tiger Woods.

    Perhaps, like Peyton Manning, Tiger just dominates so often that people have just started to take his accomplishments for granted? Of course Peyton hasn’t won anything. My connecting is solely based on both athletes setting the bar so high in their respective sport.

  12. t-wade says:

    whats up d-wade u already know who this, this yo biggest fan in da world i love u so much baby remember#1.

  13. Polaris says:

    Federer has won 9 Grand Slam titles, not 10, but your point is valid. I had hoped that, for once, that Federer had done enough to put everyone else in the shade, but I underestimated his biggest opponent – Magazine Sales!. Nothing against Wade, but what a pity that that three of the most dominant *consecutive* years in the Open Era cannot overcome the inertia of SI’s editorial staff. It is a reflection of the state of SI’s reporting and of their groveling before the pressure of the dollar, that the most gifted player since McEnroe cannot get so much as a decent cover.

    Elsewhere, more stupidity unfolds when Vogue publishes a fashion spread with some pedestrian quotes by Federer, and McEnroe and Drysdale drool over the photos on ESPN2. Tennis is getting desparate for publicity, and laps up all the scraps that it can get. Should we care about what Roger likes to wear when the man’s special talent is that he can hit a forehand like it is the most beautiful thing in the world ?

    Genius proposes, SI disposes.

  14. Joseph says:

    I like D Wade and am from Miami so their choice is not causing me any tears. However Roger Federer is by far the most dominate athlete this past year in a sport players around the world. The obvious bias the SI has against tennis should not have overshadowed his accomplishments this year. I know Pete Sampras was overlooked in years past despite his dominance and he is an American, so it is no surprise a non American is overlooked. Heck Rod Laver won two complete Grand Slam in both 1962 and 1969, yet SI picked Terry Baker and Tom Seaver respectively in two sports most of the world does not even play. So maybe SI should call itself American Sports Illustrated and drop the facade.

  15. […] Dwyane Wade is your 2006 SI Sportsman of the Year. At least that’s the word coming from Roy S. Johnson’s blog (via Bethlehem Shoals at the NBA FanHouse). Sorry to ruin the surprise for you. Guess your Monday is screwed now. […]

  16. roger_fan says:

    Common, This year, Roger is too good for any sports award.
    Except for the awards which will be given to only their country people.
    So, I will call this as American SI and not the world SI. I watch all the sports and nothing is comparable to federer’s game except MJ. Without Shaq, w’ve seen the fate of kobe. The same is true for Wade also.

  17. Shaun says:

    No mention of LaDanian Tomlinson? No other athlete is breaking records in their sport like LT is.

  18. Mike L. says:

    Federer may not have won that title but he’s already leading the ranking for Best tennis player ever on rankopedia.com. Wade is a far cry from that…

  19. Dan says:

    What about Steve Nash!? That guy is a baller!

  20. andre says:

    Tiger vs. Roger – It took Tiger 10 years to win 13 majors and he is age 31. It took Roger Federer only 4 years to win 12 majors and he is only 26. Furthermore, Roger has a higher wining percentage in majors in a shorter time and a younger age. Next, Roger in 2008 could be the all time grand slam champion if he wins 3 more. Tiger can’t he still needs 6 more. That’s why Tiger Woods and Pete Sampras called ROGER FEDERER THE MOST DOMINANT ATHLETE ON THE PLANET.

  21. Joerling says:

    Hi Guys

    Check it out: Versace, Emporio Armani, Dolce

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