Only thirteen days are left in 2019 and it is our job to nominate five most remarkable athletes from an extremely even year when it came to individual performances. The year saw Liverpool win their 6th Champions League title, the dethroning of Warriors dynasty at the hands of Toronto Raptors, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djoković exchanging two grand slams each, Khabib Nurmagomedov destroying the biggest MMA star of all-time, Conor McGregor.
Here are Enter the Court’s journalist picks:
LAMAR JACKSON (AMERICAN FOOTBALL)
Coming into the league and stating you will win the Super Bowl for the team that drafted you might have been a bold statement by many. Lamar Jackson is not a part of that group! Starting behind and learning from Joe Flacco in his first season has proven vital in the postseason of 2018 as well as 2019, where he is the front runner for the Most Valuable Player of the Year. This he set an NFL record for the most rushing yards in a season by a quarterback and the Ravens franchise record for most passing touchdowns in a season.
ISRAEL ADESANYA (MMA)
Israel’s journey to the top of the middleweight division has been an astronomical one. He came in the organization undefeated, with an 11-0 score. Coming into the biggest organization in the sport and being considered a threat in the middleweight division which has seen a great rise of contenders in the last few years, was as tough of a job as any. What made 2019 perfect for Izzy in the rounding out process in his ascent to the throne of the division were the names he took out getting there: Anderson Silva, Kelvin Gastelum and finally Robert Whittaker, and it doesn’t get much better than that, especially as far as the names value in the divison.
LIONEL MESSI (FOOTBALL)
It seems like every time a similar list is being made, Lionel Messi is in the mix! One of the greatest football players of all-time has had another great year marked by winning his record sixth Ballon d’Or, FIFA’s Best Male Player of the Year, as well as captaining Barcelona to a La Liga title, as well as a Champions League semis and a bronze medal for Argentina in the summer’s Copa America.
VIRGIL VAN DIJK (FOOTBALL)
Virgil Van Dijk‘s year was one for the books! He was the defensive anchor of the best team in Europe, and eventually a Club World Cup champions. When playing for the Netherlands, he placed them 2nd in the first UEFA Nations League, and he was the runner-up for the Ballon d’Or with the smallest margin in history!
KAWHI LEONARD (BASKETBALL)
What is there left to say about Kawhi? The man turned around a franchise in less than a year, winning the Toronto Raptors their first championship in franchise history. Kawhi’s intents to go back home to Los Angeles were speculated from the beginning of the season and the fact that he knew he was heading to the Clippers in the first weeks of the free agency only makes his Finals MVP run more impressive!
You can vote here. The results will be posted on the January 5, 2020.