If you're a Miami sports fan, chances are you're pretty bored right now. Sure, the Marlins have been playing OK, but they're still seven games under .500. And if you're among the majority committed to not giving Jeffrey Loria a cent of your hard-earned cash, you have three long, sweaty months left to dodge mosquitoes and hope for better entertainment come football season.
Just because there's nothing to watch on the sports scene now doesn't mean you can't appreciate the athletes and coaches who made the South Florida sports world turn last year, though. New Times' annual Best of Miami issue is now live, and here are our choices for the Magic City's best athletes and coaches:
After the team's limp 1-4 start, Ajayi broke records to jump-start the Dolphins into the playoffs by finishing with wins in nine of their final 11 games. Ajayi did what only three other football players in the history of the NFL have ever done by running for back-to-back 200-yard games.
Before this season, Waiters, drafted fourth overall in 2012, had earned a rep as a talent capable of not only scoring as many points as anyone in the league but also shooting his team right out of certain victory when he was cold. But Spoelstra got Waiters in world-class shape and changed his game by persuading him to be a willing passer. And when the game was on the line,
Gase guided the team on an incredible stretch of nine wins in ten games. He didn't let the Dolphins drop out of the playoff race, against all odds, and they eventually made it to the postseason for the first time since 2008. Gase's Flip This Franchise type of impact in just a year has been remarkable.
The first-round NFL pick always looked like a man among boys on the college field, and his 2016 campaign stood out even more. Njoku hurdled defenders and stiff-armed jabronis all the way to the end zone eight times on 43 catches for 698 yards.
The six-foot-six Jersey native, who was picked for the first-team Atlantic Coast Conference defensive unit last year, is well known as an absolute nightmare on that side of the floor. But Reed isn't just a beast in man-on-man markups. He started all 33 games in 2017, his senior season, and hit at least one three-pointer in all but one contest.
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In 2016-17, Yelich exploded in the second half of the season, yanking pitches into the outfield stands more often than he ever has before. He finished with 21 home runs and 98 RBI. Maybe most important, Yelich missed only seven of the Marlins' 162 games.
Even without any fake-rodent fun, fans weren't totally without reason to cheer thanks to Vincent Trocheck. The 23-year-old continued his rise to NHL stardom, tallying 23 goals and 31 assists while playing all 82 games. Trocheck was a constant in an ever-changing lineup, making it clearer every night that he is the future of the team.