Sports

Five Miami Players Who Deserve an Award for Their Performances This Season

It's that time of the year when we all do a little reflecting. As we chug toward the end of 2019, now is the perfect time to address the good, the bad, and the ugly that happened in Miami sports in the past 12 months.

It's time to give out some awards. Everything from the local sports equivalent of the Razzy to a prestigious Emmy. Here are this year's winners and losers of some awards we just totally made up. Without further ado, let's get to the cards.
Newcomer of the Year: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat. Jimmy Butler's first 20-odd games in a Miami Heat jersey have been something out of a rom-com. He's always smiling, laughing, and, in the end, head-over-heels in love. It's the cutest thing ever.

After years of loveless relationships with other teams, where both sides claimed the other was crazy, Butler has found a home in Miami. The Heat is off to one of the best starts in franchise history and is clearly a much healthier franchise now with a Top 15 player like Butler anchoring the lineup.

Averaging 20 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists a game is almost unheard of, but it's what Butler has done so far this season. He's clearly the best addition to Miami sports since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach.
click to enlarge Manny Diaz - COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI ATHLETICS
Manny Diaz
Courtesy of University of Miami Athletics
Biggest Letdown of the Year: Manny Diaz, Miami Hurricanes. This was not supposed to be the way for the Miami Hurricanes. The 2019 season was supposed to be about a newfound swagger and a step back toward the U we all once knew and loved. Instead, Manny Diaz's first season as head coach was an unmitigated 6-6 disaster, including unforgivable losses to a terrible Duke team and to FIU. 

The Miami Hurricanes were a monumental disappointment in 2019. Downright embarrassing. Diaz was supposed to fix things in Coral Gables after Mark Richt retired, but he somehow made them worse. Now Miami will play in another meaningless low-tier bowl game, hope for recruits to commit, and pray, again, that next season things get turned in the right direction. If they don't, Diaz might not be around this time next year.
Bonehead of the Year: Dion Waiters, Miami Heat. Where does one begin when it comes to Dion Waiters and his torpedoing of his Miami Heat career? We could begin with his reporting to Heat training camps bloated and out of shape after signing a huge contract, or the fact he was recently suspended for ten games for ingesting so many edibles on a team plane that he needed to be taken to the hospital.

After all that, Waiters still doesn't get it — he was recently suspended for six more games for further shenanigans deemed detrimental to the team. He's now closing in on $2 million lost owing to suspensions and even more in the way of lost bonuses for playing time. Waiters will likely never see the floor for the Heat again, no matter how much it costs him.
Most Improved Player of the Year: DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins. Of all the athletes spread across Miami's sports teams, DeVante Parker has improved most when compared to his 2018 season. Parker hit 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, has a career-high in touchdown catches, and, as of this week, has yet to miss a game for the first time in his up-and-down NFL career. In short, he's become the player the Miami Dolphins were looking for when they drafted him with a high first-round draft pick. As a reward, the team locked up Parker for four more seasons at $10 million a year.

This season, Parker cemented himself as a top-tier NFL player. Saying that sentence this time last year would have resulted in being thrown out of whatever bar in which you said it.

Heat center Bam Adebayo comes in a close runnerup for this award.
click to enlarge PHOTO BY MICHAEL REAVES / GETTY IMAGES
Photo by Michael Reaves / Getty Images
Entertainer of the Year Award: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins. At this point, you have to hand it to Ryan Fitzpatrick. After starting the season by getting his ass kicked and subsequently benched for backup Josh Rosen, Fitzpatrick has come back to lead the Dolphins to a respectable second half that has featured its fair share of "Fitz-Magic" moments. This guy seriously has nothing to lose, and it shows.

Whether he's smashing his way into the end zone face-first and then screaming like a crazy man, or zigzag scrambling on the field and pitching it to a Dolphins wide receiver before he's tackled, Fitzpatrick is always an adventure. The Dolphins stink, but with him under center, games are infinitely more entertaining than they would be without him.

It still makes no sense why the Fins would want a veteran quarterback to lead their horrific initial rebuild years, but here we are. We might as well enjoy it while it lasts. Like it or not, it's been a circus that has kept us entertained while the losses piled up all season. 
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi