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ESPY awards finalists include Cooper Kupp, Klay Thompson, Chet Holmgren and Julianna Peña

June 28, 2022 Updated Tue., June 28, 2022 at 8:34 p.m.

ESPN has released the nominations for the 2022 ESPYS and there are several reasons for Inland Northwest sports fans to tune in for the awards show July 20 from Los Angeles.

Former Eastern Washington football star Cooper Kupp, former Washington State basketball standout Klay Thompson, ex-Gonzaga forward Chet Holmgren and Spokane’s Julianna Peña are among the awards finalists.

Kupp, who had a huge season and helped the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl over Cincinnati, is a finalist for two awards, Best NFL Player and Best Championship Performance. Kupp won the “triple crown” as the NFL regular-season leader in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947) and receiving touchdowns (16). He joined Steve Smith (2005), Sterling Sharpe (1992) and Jerry Rice (1990) as the league’s only triple crown winners.

Kupp finished with eight catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 1 minute, 25 seconds remaining to earn Super Bowl MVP honors. He had four catches for 39 yards and also ran for 7 yards on a fourth-and-1 play during the winning drive. He finished the postseason with 33 receptions, 478 yards and six touchdowns in four Rams’ victories.

Kupp, Pittsburgh defensive lineman T.J. Watt, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor are finalists for top NFL player.

Kupp’s competition for Best Championship Performance includes Peña, whose win by submission over Amanda Nunes in December for the bantamweight title was one of the biggest upsets in UFC history. Peña, a 2007 graduate of Mt. Spokane High, ended Nunes’ 12-fight winning streak that included eight consecutive title defenses.

Peña (7-2 UFC) and Nunes (14-2) are scheduled for a rematch at UFC 277 on July 30 in Dallas.

The other finalists for Best Championship Performance are Max Verstappen’s Formula 1 win at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and Cale Makar leading Colorado to a 4-2 series win over Tampa Bay in the Stanley Cup finals.

Thompson earned his fourth NBA championship ring as Golden State handled Boston in the Finals earlier this month. The former Cougar returned to form following two major injuries, a torn ACL three years ago in Game 6 of the Finals against Toronto and a torn Achilles tendon suffered shortly before the 2020-21 season.

Thompson averaged 20.4 points, just above his career average of 19.5, and made 38.5% of his 3-point attempts in 32 regular-season games. He scored in double figures in all 22 playoff games, including three games with at least 30 points and nine games with at least four made 3s.

Thompson, Trey Mancini of the Baltimore Orioles, Diamond DeShields of the Phoenix Mercury and Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals are Best Comeback Athlete finalists.

Holmgren averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in his one season in a Gonzaga uniform. The 7-footer from Minneapolis made 73.7% inside the arc and 39.0% on 3-pointers. Holmgren was a finalist for the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award and was named the West Coast Conference’s top newcomer and top defender.

Holmgren was selected by Oklahoma City with the second overall pick in the NBA draft last week, edging Adam Morrison (third to Charlotte in 2006) as the highest draft pick in program history.

Gonzaga’s overtime win against UCLA at the 2021 Final Four was voted by the fans as Game of the Year at last year’s ESPYS. Jalen Suggs, Holmgren’s former teammate at Minnehaha Academy and on the AAU circuit, hit a winning 3-pointer.

Finalists for Best Team include Thompson’s Golden State Warriors, Kupp’s L.A. Rams and the WNBA Champion Chicago Sky. Former GU star Courtney Vandersloot, a four-time WNBA All-Star, averaged a double-double in Chicago’s 10 playoff games with 13.0 points and 10.2 assists.

Trinity Rodman, who signed with WSU soccer but never played in a game due to the COVID-19 pandemic before she registered for the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) draft, is a finalist for Best Breakthrough Athlete. Rodman was selected second overall by the Washington Spirit and was the 2021 NWSL Rookie of the Year. She’s the daughter of former NBA standout Dennis Rodman. Her brother DJ plays for the WSU basketball team.

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