2015 has become the past. While there are many incredible sports moments yet to come in 2016, this is a time to look back at all the major feats our Eastbay athletes accomplished this past year — they did pretty well.
2015 World Cup Champions
Leading up to the tournament, we featured not one, but seven, USWNT players on either the catalog or eastbay.com. That included the likes of Sydney Leroux, Kelley O’Hara, Heather O’Reilly, Becky Sauerbrunn, Morgan Brian, Lauren Holiday, and Alex Morgan. Those players dedicated their lives to that one goal, and they brought home the trophy for the first time since 1999.
NBA Finals + NBA MVP + 24-0 Start
He’s the best, and those accomplishments above prove it. In 2015, Stephen Curry didn’t just win the league’s MVP award and bring Golden State its first championship in 40 years, but he went on to lead the Warriors to an NBA-record 24-0 start to the 2015-16 season. 2015 was Curry’s year.
No. 7 Overall NBA Draft Pick
Emmanuel Mudiay didn’t take the traditional path to the NBA. He skipped the whole college thing so he could play basketball professionally in China to prepare himself for the NBA. Well, it worked, because the explosive and versatile Mudiay was drafted No. 7 overall by the Denver Nuggets.
Elena Delle Donne’s 2015 season was one of the best in WNBA history. She averaged 23.4 points per game, which is fifth best in league history, and she set a league record by converting on 95 percent of her free throws. Delle Donne was the definition of efficiency, game in and game out — that’s the Eastbay way.
Best Start In Team History (14-0)
The Carolina Panthers were doubted. Critics and fans thought of the Panthers as, at best, an above-average football team, but no one gave them the credit of an elite team. Fortunately, Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly feed off that doubt. It drives them to be their best. Those two led Carolina to its first-ever 14-0 start, and with the playoffs starting, it could become ever better. Plus, Newton is a frontrunner for the league’s MVP award.
Top 15 On NFL’s Top 100 Players Of 2015 List
Two of our Eastbay athletes made that list: DeMarco Murray (No. 4) and Luke Kuechly (No. 14). You just read about Kuechly’s outstanding 2015, but Murray’s season didn’t quite live up to the high expectations. After one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen in 2014-15, Murray stumbled a bit this year, but there’s no denying his talent.
Cubs Rookie Home Run Record + Wild Card Berth
Few players in the MLB have the power of Kris Bryant. After finally being called up by the Chicago Cubs, Bryant took off running at the plate, becoming one of the league’s most feared power hitters. His 26 homers put him atop the list of Cubs rookies, ahead of Hall of Famer Billy Williams. That power helped Chicago reach the postseason for the first time since 2008. The future looks bright for Bryant, that’s for sure.
Superstar In The Making
The shortstop position in Boston hasn’t been this solidified since Nomar Garciaparra was traded in 2004. With Xander Bogaerts on the diamond, Boston’s infield no longer has any problems. Once ranked the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball, Bogaerts has sky-high expectations, and he lived up to the hype in 2015. Not only was he a defensive juggernaut, but he excelled at the plate, hitting .320 with seven homers and 81 RBIs. The potential here is endless — just wait until next season.
Like we said, 2015 is gone now, but these accomplishments will live on forever. Congrats to all our dedicated Eastbay athletes who know winning takes discipline, training, and desire. Keep up the hard work — 2016 is going to be one to remember.
MLB National League MVP
In just his fourth season in the big leagues, at 22 years and 353 days old, Bryce Harper bagged his first MVP award, making him the third youngest player to ever do so. And it was certainly deserved. Harper finished the season with a .330 average, hitting 42 home runs and 99 RBIs. The stats speak for themselves.
After being one of the top high-school basketball players in the country, Emmanuel Mudiay decided to pass on college to play professionally in China. Sure, it wasn’t a popular decision, but he doesn’t regret it. It made him into the player he is today — this year’s No. 7 overall draft pick by the Denver Nuggets. Mudiay knows people doubt him and his abilities, but he also knows they’re dead wrong — and he can’t wait to prove it.
EASTBAY: What’s the biggest challenge you face going into the NBA? MUDIAY: You’ve got to be able to learn really, really fast. That’s what it is. I’ve just got to ask a lot of questions.
EASTBAY: What do you do on game day, mentally or physically, to prepare for battle? MUDIAY: That starts in practice. If you practice the way you’re supposed to, you’re ready on game day. That’s something Michael Jordan said, and that’s one thing I really took in. If I do that, the sky’s the limit. I feel like I can do anything on the court.
EASTBAY: Many consider your change of speed and direction your most valuable asset. What would you say is your best asset? MUDIAY: I’m young, strong, quick, explosive. That’s definitely a big asset when you’re going against grown men. One other thing that I’m really big on is my IQ. That’s what’s gonna separate you from different people. Because everybody in the NBA is fast, strong, athletic, can move, and has a great skill set, but it’s your mind that separates you.
EASTBAY: What was one skill set in recent memory that someone has said you need to work on, or that you believe you need to work on? MUDIAY: The knock is definitely my shooting. That’s what most people say. But if you know me, it’s just that I’ve been so successful getting to the rim, I don’t need to shoot that much.
EASTBAY: What’s one drill that’s helped you increase your shooting ability? MUDIAY: It’s just reps. That’s all it is. In high school you gotta go to class, you gotta do this, you know what I’m saying. You’re tired, but you’re a professional. That’s your job. Some days you wake up like ‘man, I gotta work out this morning.’ The hard part is waking up, but when you wake up, get there, have fun. That’s what you do.
EASTBAY: What’s something you’ve done training-wise in the past that’s separated you from other guards coming up? MUDIAY: I wouldn’t say training. I would say mindset. Great players train together, but you’ll see in the game they’re still different players. It’s your mindset. That’s all it is.
EASTBAY: Did you learn that from other players? How did you get such a strong game IQ? MUDIAY: I’ve been watching basketball since I was six years old. My favorite player of all time was Magic Johnson. I used to watch a lot of stuff on Magic. He has probably one of the biggest IQs in the history of the game.
EASTBAY: People call you one of the most mature young athletes. What has inspired you to be that mature athlete? MUDIAY: I grew up without a dad. My dad passed when I was two years old. I had to learn stuff really fast, on the court and off the court. I feel like that was a big transition that helped me be so mature at my age.
EASTBAY: If you had one piece of advice for kids being off the court, what would it be? MUDIAY: Be around the right people. Surround yourself with people that want to be great. Be around people that keep you on your toes. People will say ‘You’re about to get drafted; you made it.’ I don’t look at it that way. I haven’t made it until I’m in the Hall of Fame.
EASTBAY: For someone who hasn’t seen you play, what’s going to be the most exciting part for them when they watch you play? MUDIAY: My competitiveness. Competing every play, my explosiveness, my athleticism, my hunger to win. They’ll fall in love with that part. Everybody loves a winner.
Mudiay’s first game will be at 8 pm CT on Oct. 28 against the Houston Rockets. He’ll be lacing up in the Under Armour ClutchFit Drive 2 Low. A PE of his shoe will be dropping on eastbay.com Oct. 31.
Watch Mudiay discuss his journey leading up to his much-anticipated rookie season.