Michael Phelps has been chosen as SI's Sportsman Of The Year. What follows is a collection of athletes and coaches who were nominated by SI writers for the magazine's top honor.
2 of 38Bill Frakes/SI
Nominated by Tim Layden<br><br> "In the shadow of Michael Phelps, on the biggest stage in international sports, Bolt made track and field relevant again. He jumped on the gurney, straddled a dying sport and applied paddles to its chest, giving it life. There is no guarantee that Bolt's influence has legs, and if he should be found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs, like U.S. sprinters Marion Jones and Justin Gatlin, among others, the game is over for him and for his sport. But for now the sport lives because of one young sprinter."
3 of 38Al Tielemans/SI
Nominated by Tom Verducci<br><br> "Charlie Manuel never won a gold medal or a manager of the year award. Never has he been called a `genius' or an `innovator.' Corporate America would not prefer his kind of elocution for motivational speeches. There is nothing fancy about the guy. And that is why Manuel is my choice for Sportsman of the Year. He is a proxy for all those baseball lifers who love what they do. He also is proof that success does not require a good and honest man to change."
4 of 38AP
Nominated by Kevin Armstrong<br><br> "For the past 14 years at Boston College, his alma mater, York, a Watertown, Mass. native in his 38th season as a head coach, has been the New England area's quietest -- if not most consistent -- winner. Riding on long bus trips and playing to parochial crowds passionate about their pucks, he has embodied the best that college athletics has to offer: purity in winning and teaching."
5 of 38Al Tielemans/SI
New York Giants
Nominated by Arash Markazi<br><br>"No team in NFL history was as doubted as the Giants. No one believed in them. Not even their own fans. The Giants were the only ones that truly believed that they could beat the Cowboys in Texas Stadium after losing twice to them in the regular season, beat the Packers in frigid Lambeau Field after losing to them earlier in the season and beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl after losing to them in the regular-season finale. It was the most improbable finish to a season that the league has ever seen, but it wasn't a fluke."
6 of 38Robert Beck/SI
Nominated by S.L. Price<br><br>In the 2007-08 season Ovechkin scored 65 goals -- the first player to do so in 12 years -- broke the NHL scoring record for a left wing, tallied 112 points and won the Hart Trophy. But he wasn't just about numbers. Ovechkin did all that after signing the richest contract in NHL history, in a style that left mouths agape and eyes popped; night after night he scored in ways you hadn't seen before, hit opponents with joyous abandon, pounded his fists on the glass in celebration and made it seem like he wanted every screaming soul in the arena out there with him."
7 of 38Robert Beck/SI
U.S. Men's Olympic Volleyball Team
Nominated by Brian Cazeneuve<br><br>"In the locker room of Beijing's Capital Gymnasium, members of the U.S. men's Olympic volleyball team interrupted their greatest moment of celebration for a moment of silence, a private tribute for a fallen family member whose memory they had just honored with the most stirring victory in the team's history. One by one, the players reached out to Hugh McCutcheon, their coach and pillar of strength, unsure whether to high-five or break down, to laugh or cry. 'An impossible mix of emotions,' said veteran setter Lloy Ball, whose tears were dripping onto the strap that held the gold medal around his neck."
8 of 38Robert Beck/SI
Ryder Cup Rookies
Nominated by John Garrity<br><br> "The six American rookies pumped more fists and trotted off more greens than any U.S. players in memory. They were the stars of a 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 rout that brought the Ryder Cup back to the States for only the second time since 1993 -- proving that experience is overrated and prompting me to nominate them for Sportsmen of the Year."
9 of 38Simon Bruty/SI
Nominated by Kelli Anderson<br><br> "Torres didn't win eight swimming gold medals at the Beijing Olympics; she didn't even win one. But in winning three silver medals at the age of 41, this mother of one did something just as awe-inspiring. Her feat blew the lid off assumptions about the chronological limits of athletic achievement, thus lighting a flame of inspiration under athletes of both genders, at every level and all ages."
10 of 38AP
Athletes in the Military
Nominated by Chris Mannix<br><br> ''In a world where the behavior of athletes can occasionally sink below sea level, these are the ones who should be lauded as true sportsmen and honored, along with every other athlete in the military, by being named Sportsmen of the Year. Fighting in the long shadow cast by the late Pat Tillman, Caleb Campbell <i>(left)</i> and Mitch Harris are not just putting potential future careers on hold, they are doing it without complaint.''
11 of 38John W. McDonough/SI
Nominated by David Epstein<br><br> "I nominate Kobe Bryant as Sportsman of the Year, because this year he became a global symbol in a globalized sports world. A lot of great American players grew up wanting to be like Mike, and we might be wise to expect an influx of Chinese players in the generation to come, many of whom got their start trying to be like Kobe."
12 of 38Damian Strohmeyer/SI, Walter Iooss Jr./SI (inset)
Nominated by Grant Wahl<br><br> "Why should John Elway be my 2008 Sportsman of the Year? The answer is simple: On the 10th anniversary of awarding our most prestigious honor to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, SI would make an important statement by withdrawing that recognition and instead presenting it to Elway, who's clearly a more deserving winner."
13 of 38AP
Nominated by Austin Murphy<br><br> "In a sport more susceptible than most to conventional thinking, I salute the least conventional mind on the college football landscape. In his ninth season in Lubbock, having finally come up with a better-than-average defense to complement his storied Air Raid offense, Leach is 10-0 and two wins away from a berth in the BCS title game."
14 of 38Bob Rosato/SI
Nominated by Phil Taylor<br><br> "There are any number of reasons for the Celtics' reclaiming of the NBA throne that once seemed to be their permanent possession -- Danny Ainge's trades for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the leadership and determination of Paul Pierce, and the selfless mentality cultivated by coach Doc Rivers among them -- but Russell's quiet influence should not be overlooked. He was Garnett's mentor, his muse, and without him who knows if KG would have been the galvanizing force the Celtics needed? `You may have to put your arms around a couple of guys and take them with you,' Russell said to Garnett before the Finals, referring to the championship journey. `You can't drag them -- you have to take them with you.'"
15 of 38Simon Bruty/SI
Nominated by Jon Wertheim<br><br> "Nadal singlehandedly shatters the tired perception of the tennis player as a pampered, elitist pinhead. With a body that belongs in an NFL backfield (if not a UFC Octagon) he is all muscle, both bulk and fast-twitch, and, accordingly, his game is a devastating mix of power and speed. He doesn't stroke the ball so much as he pummels it, unfurling a lefty game that simply has no precedent. Yet his real strength is the mental variety. Nadal is that rare athlete whose game moves in lockstep to the stakes."
16 of 38John Biever/SI
Nominated by Selena Roberts<br><br> "The sweet reward for curiosity this year was Candace Parker. On a jammed sports scene with endless channels to choose from and a political campaign to satiate other competition cravings, Parker did something extraordinary: She made you look -- at women's basketball, of all things."
17 of 38Jay LaPrete/Icon SMI
Guillermo Barros Schelotto
Nominated by <i>SI Latino</i><br><br> "Barros Schelotto was chosen as the '08 MVP of MLS, edging out Landon Donovan of the Los Angeles Galaxy and Cuauhtémoc Blanco of the Chicago Fire. In 27 regular-season games the Argentine playmaker scored seven goals and dished off a league-best 19 assists, to which he added another three assists in as many playoff games. Since arriving in Columbus last season he has transformed the on-field mentality of a young squad that hadn't made the playoffs since '04."
18 of 38Bill Frakes/SI
Nominated by Peter King<br><br>"I take the Sportsman of the Year very seriously. There has to be something to the athlete who wins -- either in charisma, folk-heroness, non-sporting appeal or the ability to use his platform to make the world better -- that goes beyond greatness in the game he plays. Warner has greatness, of course. He's a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player who will be in contention for a third because of his superb (and surprising) play this year. But those qualities I listed a couple of sentences ago, the ones that a Sportsman has to have in addition to athletic greatness? Warner doesn't have one. He has all four."
19 of 38David E. Klutho/SI
Nominated by Kostya Kennedy<br><br>"What makes Lidstrom so Sportsman-like is, well, his sportsmanship: his humility, his professionalism. He is intuitive on the ice and equally so in the locker room. Earlier this year Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told me that he had never coached player this good. `In what way?' I asked. Replied Babcock: `In any way you can think of.'"
20 of 38Greg Nelson/SI
Nominated by Pablo S. Torre<br><br> "With Hamilton -- as with this award -- context is everything. You may have heard his story by now: How as a 6-foot-4, 18-year-old from Raleigh, N.C., he had been the No. 1 overall-pick by Tampa Bay in '99, all natural grace and power in size-19 shoes. How he then developed a crippling drug addiction that sent him spiraling, wandering the earth, sleeping in cars and crack dens. How at 27, nine years later, this season wound up being just his second in the big leagues. How he is, in the end, the rare athlete who lived up to hype served cold, who rebuilt his life and family, who achieved redemption by genuinely devoting himself to something bigger than, well, himself."
21 of 38Courtesy of Eugene Martin
Nominated by Michael Bamberger<br><br>''Monarchs coach Walter Stewart says that the fact that his team is all-black, playing the game of white suburban dreams, is striking only the first time you see it. ''After that you get used to it,'' he says. Juanita Kerber, the mother of a Monarch, says that when the team travels outside Philadelphia it often plays clubs without a single black player. She says: 'The first time I went to the suburbs with the team, the message you got was, Why are they here?' The answer, always, is quickly apparent: because the girls of the Anderson Monarchs love soccer and love to win.''
22 of 38John Biever/SI
Nominated by Joe Posnanski<br><br> "Sure, every NCAA tournament has a hero, a player who emerges and scores a bunch of points or blocks a bunch of shots or makes one as the buzzer sounds. This guy was different, though. There was something about watching Steph Curry play basketball that just made everybody happy."
23 of 38Robert Beck/SI
Nominated by Damon Hack<br><br> "Late in 2008, while Tiger was convalescing, Paddy swept the year's final two majors, the British Open at Royal Birkdale and the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. Surely, the golf world had made alternative plans when Tiger missed the second half of the season with a knee injury. A fourth major for Phil Mickelson, perhaps, or a first one for Adam Scott. Instead it was Paddy, the son of a Dublin cop, taking his second and third major titles with a firm back and a cold glare."
24 of 38Jerry Markland/Getty Images
Nominated by Lars Anderson<br><br>"Not only is Johnson poised to become the first driver to win three consecutive championships since Cale Yarborough pulled off the feat 30 years ago, but Johnson has also done it with a style and a dignity that all mothers would love. When he struggles he doesn't lash out at his crew like many drivers do; instead he simply looks forward to the next race. And when rival drivers beat him he's usually one of the first to make the trip to Victory Lane to offer congratulations. This may sound like trivial stuff, but the virtue of sportsmanship is often lacking in NASCAR -- not because of Johnson, though."
25 of 38Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Nominated by Josh Gross<br><br> "Silva -- the dominant 33-year-old middleweight champion of the UFC -- performed with equal parts skill, brutality and showmanship in 2008, winning each of his three fights to set himself apart from peers for the second-consecutive year. He is the most explosive talent in the most explosive sport. Whether it was an unsuccessful attempt to box Roy Jones Jr. or being open to any challenges brought forward by the UFC, Silva's '08 campaign should be remembered for one thing: his desire to fight -- a rarity in a sport in which most others are content to compete but once or twice a year."
26 of 38Bill Frakes/SI
Nominated by Seth Davis<br><br>''Obama spent much of his teenage years seeking out pickup games at playgrounds and rec centers around his native Honolulu. In his memoir <i>Dreams from My Father</i> he wrote of how the city game taught him truisms about life that his absent father could not. And in 2008 Obama put the rules of the asphalt to the ultimate test, betting his career on the belief that American voters would judge him not on the color of his skin but on whether he had the skills and the toughness they wanted in a president. When he hit the electoral game point on Nov. 4, he made history by winning the right to become America's first-ever Hoopster-in-Chief.''
27 of 38Xinhua/zuma/ICON SMI
Nominated by Jonah Freedman<br><br>"In this era of Ocho Cincos, Jose Canseco tell-alls and contract holdouts, McBride has made an entire career out of doing something increasingly rare for an American athlete: He keeps his mouth shut."
28 of 38Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Nominated by Jon Heyman<br><br>"The team formerly known as the Devil Rays had never before won more than 70 games. But this year it won 97 and the American League pennant. Joe the Manager's Rays, who had won a league-worst 66 games in 2007, became the unlikeliest World Series entrants since the Amazin' '69 Mets, maybe ever. Along the way Maddon won the admiration of everyone he came into contact with, impressing management, media, players and fans alike."
29 of 38David E. Klutho/SI
Nominated by Jack McCallum<br><br>''Cheek's visa was revoked, plain and simple, because the Chinese government did not want to be embarrassed, and it used its bully pulpit to silence Cheek. 'I believe that the Olympics is a great forum for discussing human rights,' Cheek said after he was banned from Beijing. 'I think you can do that respectfully and within the rules that have been laid out by the IOC.' Of course you can. But not according to the USOC.''
30 of 38Brad Mangin/SI
Nominated by Luke Winn<br><br>''Sabathia took a young team with a slumping offense and a beaten-up pitching staff, put it on his back and carried it into the postseason. What the Brewers realistically expected when they traded for Sabathia, I don't know, but it couldn't have been <i>that</i>.''
31 of 38Bob Martin/SI, David Bergman/SI (inset)
Nominated by George Dohrmann<br><br>"The worst spell of Solo's life turned positive this past summer. Back between the pipes for the national team, she made save after save in a stirring 1-0 victory over Brazil that gave the Americans the Olympic gold medal. Her stop of a point-blank Marta shot in the 72nd minute was the play of the tournament, and it was the kind of save that previous U.S. coach Greg Ryan questioned she could make when he pulled her from the lineup at the World Cup."
32 of 38Douglas Jones/Icon SMI
Fresno State baseball
Nominated by Lee Jenkins<br><br>"They were away from home for 35 of 41 days. They played 22 consecutive games on the road. They played six elimination games -- and they won all six. By the time their pilgrimage ended, five weeks later at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, they had won one of the most unlikely national championships in the history of college sports. Fresno State made the Tampa Bay Rays look like preseason favorites."
33 of 38Bob Rosato/SI
Nominated by Alexander Wolff<br><br>"With his performance in the 10-meter air rifle, Bindra became India's first individual Olympic gold medalist ever. That makes him a canary in the coal mine of one of the most fascinating countries in the developing world. Much as Liu Xiang, heralded China's newfound prosperity and confidence with a hurdling gold at the Athens Games in 2004, Bindra is emblematic of further tectonic change afoot."
34 of 38Robert Beck/SI
Nominated by Chris Ballard<br><br>"The U.S. Open win alone makes Tiger a Sportsman candidate. What seals the deal is the great, roaring vacuum that his departure created in the world of golf."
35 of 38John W. McDonough/SI
Nominated by Ian Thomsen<br><br>"The 2007-08 Celtics are my Sportsmen of the Year because they embraced the least respected and most valuable quality of NBA millionaires: humility. Each sought to play not for himself but for the team."
36 of 38AP
Central Washington Softball Players
Nominated by Michael Farber<br><br>"The names of Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace have faded, but their act of uncommon grace and exemplary sportsmanship should live forever, preserved in amber along with the SI Sportsman of the Year Award."
37 of 38AP
Nominated by Richard Hoffer<br><br>''Hopkins has always been <i>sui generis</i>, treating his sport more like a craft than warfare, taking his profession more as a job than a calling. The celebrity that accrued with 20 some-odd middleweight title defenses has never interfered with his dedication to the sport. His self-sacrifice remains legendary.''
38 of 38Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Nominated by Jim Trotter<br><br>"Asomugha (21), who is as soft-spoken as he is talented, never seeks attention for his philanthropy. He would prefer to operate below the radar, although that's hard to do because of the impact he's having on young peoples' lives."
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