Sports

Best of Miami 2019: The Best Athletes and Sports Personalities in Miami

Chris Lykes
Chris Lykes photo courtesy of University of Miami Athletics
click to enlarge Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena - PHOTO BY GUILLAUME CAPRON / FLICKR
Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena
New Times' annual Best of Miami issue is live online today. To see our choices for the top celebrities, artists, and chefs in South Florida, you can also check out the full issue on newsstands this Thursday.

But first, here are our picks for this year's best athletes and sports personalities in Miami:
click to enlarge Justise Winslow - PHOTO COURTESY OF MIAMI HEAT
Justise Winslow
photo courtesy of Miami Heat
Best Miami Heat Player: Justise Winslow. It's been a long, winding road to the top for Justise Winslow. Since being drafted with the tenth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Miami Heat fans have been waiting to see him put together an entire season of greatness. They've waited to see if Winslow is worthy of carrying the torch Dwyane Wade passed to him. That wait officially ended in 2019. Since filling in for an injured Goran Dragic at point guard, Winslow has skyrocketed from hopeful prospect to genuine stud NBA player. Winslow averaged a career high in points, steals, and assists last season. He's more than just a role player. Justise Winslow is the Heat's best player.
Kenny Stills - PHOTO BY MICHELE EVE SANDBERG
Kenny Stills
photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
Best Miami Dolphins Player: Kenny Stills. The last Dolphins season ended in a losing record, but there was one moment that reminded us why we love sports: the "Miami Miracle." The last-second hook-and-ladder, come-from-behind victory began with a catch from wide receiver Kenny Stills, who caught the 17-yard pass and had the wherewithal to lateral it to another wide receiver before he got tackled. Stills was lying on the ground when another lateral, to running back Kenyon Drake, prompted the team, the stadium, and all of Miami to erupt in jubilation. The play was even more impressive after Stills scored a touchdown to go with eight catches for 135 yards in that game, and the Dolphins shocked their Super Bowl-winning opponents, the New England Patriots. Stills also led the Dolphins in receiving touchdowns in 2018 and was second in receiving yards. Stills is also admirable off the field. He's made his political stances known by taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest police violence and by supporting organizations such as Empowered Youth, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Dream Defenders, and Justice League NYC.
click to enlarge Marlins pitcher José Ureña - COURTESY OF THE MIAMI MARLINS
Marlins pitcher José Ureña
Courtesy of the Miami Marlins
Best Miami Marlins Player: José Ureña. In baseball, the pitcher is the most important man on the diamond. This season, José Ureña was the Marlins’ Opening Day starter. Though he didn’t start the 2019 season as hot as he ended the last, his 2018 record was impressive: Ureña compiled a 3.98 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 174 innings pitched. At 27 years old, he's in his prime, and if the Marlins rebuild goes as planned, he could be a frontline starter for a World Series contender.
click to enlarge Jonathan Huberdeau - PHOTO BY ELIOT J SCHECHTER / FLORIDA PANTHERS
Jonathan Huberdeau
photo by Eliot J Schechter / Florida Panthers
Best Florida Panthers Player: Jonathan Huberdeau. The man who calls himself “JonnyHuby11” on Twitter kills it on the ice. The Florida Panthers’ 2011 third-overall pick was expected to be pretty good at playing hockey, but Huberdeau is putting in elite-level work. The Panthers forward tallied 92 points last season on 30 goals and 62 assists — all career highs. Though the Panthers as a team didn’t achieve the success they'd hoped for, Huberdeau is the sort of player who keeps fans and the front office confident that the Cats are on the cusp of something great.
click to enlarge Shaquille Quarterman - PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI ATHLETICS
Shaquille Quarterman
photo courtesy of University of Miami Athletics
Best Miami Hurricanes Football Player: Shaquille Quarterman. Shaq Quarterman, Miami's First Team All-ACC starting middle linebacker, doesn’t have to be here. He could be making money playing football in any one of 30 cities right now. That's been the case since he burst onto the scene as a difference-making freshman for the Miami Hurricanes 39 straight starts ago. He's here to finish what he started — to win a National Championship. By returning for his senior season, the Canes’ steadiest player is in a position to accomplish that goal under new head coach Manny Diaz and an entirely revamped program. Whatever happens in 2019, the Canes are a much better squad with their best player and team leader in the fold. The NFL can wait.
click to enlarge Chris Lykes - PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI ATHLETICS
Chris Lykes
photo courtesy of University of Miami Athletics
Best Miami Hurricanes Basketball Player: Chris Lykes. Sometimes big things come in small packages. Hurricanes guard Chris Lykes, who stood out in an otherwise unremarkable 2018-19 Canes basketball season, has likely heard this his entire life. Lykes averaged 16.2 points on 40.6 percent shooting during the season. Against stiff ACC competition, the five-foot-seven Lykes was able to stand out even as the team cemented its 14-18 record. Despite the setbacks, Lykes did his part to keep the Canes within striking distance during each game. He routinely scored more than 25 points per game last season, including a 27-point effort against the mighty Tar Heels in North Carolina.
click to enlarge Stephen Ross - PHOTO COURTESY OF MIAMI DOLPHINS
Stephen Ross
photo courtesy of Miami Dolphins
Best Team Owner: Stephen Ross. It's been a rocky road for Stephen Ross on his journey as the Miami Dolphins’ majority owner. He's endured TMZ-level scandals, controversial decisions, and an incredible number of terrible on-the-field products. Much of the headaches and downfalls have been due to unforced errors on his part, but over the course of the past year or so, Ross seems to have turned things around for the team. For starters, he poured more than a half-billion dollars into renovating Hard Rock Stadium, which is now the crown jewel of sports venues in Miami-Dade. The past 12 months have been promising, even as the team is in the midst of an overhaul. Ross recognized it was finally time to renovate his roster and coaching staff the same way he recently refurbished the stadium. He cleaned house by trading longtime quarterback Ryan Tannehill and firing head coach Adam Gase after a disappointing three seasons. Most fans recognized long ago that the Dolphins were in need of a rebuild, and it’s encouraging to watch Ross take steps in that direction.
click to enlarge Steve Goldstein (left) - PHOTO BY ELIOT J SCHECHTER / FLORIDA PANTHERS
Steve Goldstein (left)
photo by Eliot J Schechter / Florida Panthers
Best Sportscaster: Steve Goldstein. Steve Goldstein — the play-by-play broadcaster for the Florida Panthers on Fox Sports Florida — gets better with age, even if you’re not checking in with him every night. In addition to making calls, Goldstein anchors the sports and news for CBS Miami, but his voice is best known for tracking the movement of the puck for Panthers fans. That Goldstein can make even the least amusing Panthers game watchable, and even thrilling, is a testament to his talent as a broadcaster.
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Miami New Times staff