Commentary

Person of 2011? Here are my finalists

Stephen A. Smith makes his case for 10 New York athletes who stood out this year

Updated: December 27, 2011, 7:31 PM ET
By Stephen A. Smith | ESPNNewYork.com

Look, I usually have better things to do with my time -- especially during the Christmas holidays -- than sitting around trying to pick our Person of the Year in New York sports. That is, until I looked at our finalists and was officially allowed to question whether my bosses were working too hard.

Jose Reyes? Really? Anybody from the Nets right now? Are we being serious here? I'm all for inclusion, making sure no one from the Big Apple is left out of the mix, but other than Kris Humphries hooking up with Kim Kardashian (smile!!!), please tell me: What has been going on in Newark that actually qualifies as news?

ESPNNewYork.com's Person of the Year is sacred ground. It's a place designated for those who've done great things, who have or will set the stage for great things to be done.

So, needless to say, no one from the Mets has any business being on this list.

It's one thing to be completely inept, as Mets ownership has proved to be, but it's an entirely different matter altogether to be so flagrantly OK with it.

Not only did the Mets lose their lone franchise-caliber player in Reyes, they lost him for $106 million to a divisional rival (Marlins), and did so without even competing to keep him. Couple this with a $25 million loan from Major League Baseball, combined with another $30 million loan from Bank of America, and all I need is for someone to explain to me how the Wilpons are perceived as being any better than Frank McCourt of the Dodgers.

Please, I'm waiting!

The same goes for Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who's known for having $17 billion and being Russian. That's about all.

Add Deron Williams to that list, too, simply because it would be stupid to give him any accolades since he may not stay when all is said and done.

One should feel free to add Jets coach Rex Ryan to the list. Rex has stained his two consecutive trips to the AFC Championship Game with so much bloviating about his Super Bowl aspirations, it's difficult for anyone to appreciate anything the Jets do until they actually make it to the championship round. There's nothing wrong with eliminating Plaxico Burress from the list, too, since Mark Sanchez hasn't exactly given him the opportunity to be lights-out even though the receiver leads the team with eight touchdowns.

With a nearly $200 million payroll, it's clear there doesn't need to be so many Yankees on the list either. That means Joe Girardi is going to have to come off despite using gum and tape to piece his pitching staff into the postseason. CC Sabathia would get more love from me when he decides to lose some weight and stop bragging about eating two bowls of Crunch Berries cereal a day.

So, to recap, Reyes is off the list. The Mets are banned from the list until further notice. We'll promise to become more interested in the Nets if Williams re-signs, when Prokhorov uses some of his billions to lure another marquee player to join him and Jay-Z performs at the Barclays Center.

No, Christian Lopez, we're not voting for you, either. While we appreciate the cellphone salesman catching Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit before exuding class by returning it to him, it was touching, not motivational.

We appreciate it. But, ya know, come on, bro!

Steve Lavin deserves consideration for taking St. John's to the NCAA tournament, not to mention his high-profile battle with prostate cancer. But the Red Storm still fall into that one-year-wonder category for the time being.

Tyson Chandler just got here. Enough said. The same applies to Carmelo Anthony.

And even if I wanted to put both on the list, they don't deserve to be on there as much as Knicks former president and GM Donnie Walsh, the man responsible for resurrecting this franchise, and Amare Stoudemire, the first star willing to accept the challenge of restoring the bright lights back to Broadway.

Of course, we can't forget former Rutgers standout Eric LeGrand, paralyzed during a game yet still managing to inspire us every day.

So here are my 10 finalists for ESPNNewYork.com's Person of the Year:
Mariano Rivera
• Derek Jeter
Curtis Granderson
• Donnie Walsh
• Amare Stoudemire
Eli Manning
Jason Pierre-Paul
Darrelle Revis
• Eric LeGrand
• Bob Hurley Sr. from St. Anthony High School, the four-time national championship coach (26 state titles), who in February became the 10th coach in high school history to win 1,000 games.

I would ask, "Who could argue with this list?" But we all know better.

Now I'm going to go and do what my bosses should be doing -- enjoying the holiday.

Before telling you my winner next week, of course.

Merry Christmas!

Get the last word on Stephen A. -- click here to vote for your New York Sports Person of the Year, and give us your own Top 10.

Stephen A. Smith | email

ESPNNewYork.com columnist
Stephen A. Smith is a featured columnist for ESPNNewYork.com, host of a weekday show for ESPN New York 98.7 and a regular on "SportsCenter" and "First Take."

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