Jamal Murray, Steven Stamkos win Sports Illustrated awards for Breakout and Best Play

·2 min read

Two Canadians were honoured at this year's Sports Illustrated Awards.

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray was named of the winner of the "Breakout of the Year" award, while Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was the recipient of the "Play of the Year" award after his goal in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Dallas Stars.

Murray, the native of Kitchener, Ont., led the Nuggets to an upset of the favoured Los Angeles Clippers in the second round of the NBA playoffs in Orlando, Fla. The Nuggets would lose to the eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals, but not before Murray made a highlight-reel layup in Game 4 of the series.

The layup drew comparisons to Michael Jordan's own from Game 2 of the 1991 NBA Finals between Jordan's Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers.

"You dream of being great," Murray said following the award announcement. "You dream of being the best version of yourself. So, I don't see myself stopping there."

Stamkos, from Markham, Ont., only played fewer than three minutes in the NHL playoffs as he was nursing a core muscle injury. His lone appearance came in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Dallas, where he scored on a sharp angle shot Stars' goaltender Anton Khudobin to give his team a 2-0 lead in the first period.

The Lightning went on to win the game, and the series.

"I'm not a huge believer of those 'meant to be' moments," Stamkos said. "But that was truly one of those moments for me."

Earlier this month, Quebecer Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was among five athletes to be named Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year. Following a Super Bowl victory with the Kansas City Chiefs, he worked at a long-term care facility as a frontline worker amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Teammate Patrick Mahomes, LeBron James, Breonna Stewart and Naomi Osaka were the four other athletes who also received the honour.

This year's awards are being held online through a variety of platforms, including Facebook, Twitch and Twitter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 19, 2020.

The Canadian Press