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Biles, Felix, Rapinoe and Shiffrin nominated for World Sportswoman of the Year

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Gymnast Simone Biles, sprinter Allyson Felix and Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin, each staking a claim as the best ever in their sports, have been nominated for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award. The winner will be announced Feb. 17 in Berlin.

Soccer star Megan Rapinoe is also nominated, giving the U.S. four of the six nominees for the award. The other nominees are Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Naomi Osaka.

The U.S. women’s soccer team is also nominated for World Team of the Year, alongside two other World Cup champions — South Africa (men’s rugby) and Spain (men’s basketball). The NBA champion Toronto Raptors are also nominated, along with European and world champion Liverpool FC and perennial Formula 1 champion Mercedes AMG Petronas.

Tiger Woods, who won The Masters after several years with no major championships, is nominated for Sportsman of the Year. Argentine soccer great Lionel Messi (Barcelona FC) is also nominated, along with tennis player Rafael Nadal, two-hour marathon barrier breaker Eliud Kipchoge, and motorsports stars Lewis Hamilton (Formula 1) and Marc Márquez (MotoGP).

Two tennis players, Coco Gauff and Bianca Andreescu, are nominated for Breakthrough of the Year, along with U.S. swimmer Regan Smith, Colombian Tour de France champion Egan Bernal, Japan’s men’s rugby team and boxer Andy Ruiz Jr.

U.S. swimmer Nathan Adrian, who won his 15th and 16th world championships after a bout with testicular cancer, is nominated for World Comeback of the Year, along with Liverpool FC, tennis player Andy Murray, NBA champion Kawhi Leonard, German Formula 3 driver Sophia Flörsch and Australian rugby star Christian Lealiifano.

Skier/cyclist Oksana Masters is nominated for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability, along with Dutch wheelchair tennis player Diede de Groot, Cuban sprinter Omara Durand, Dutch cyclist/triathlete Jetze Plat, Swiss track and field star Manuela Schär and British swimmer Alice Tai.

U.S. athletes Nyjah Huston (skateboard), Chloe Kim (snowboarding) and Carissa Moore (surfing) are up for Action Sportsperson of the Year, along with 11-year-old Brazilian skateboarder Rayssa Leal, Brazilian surfer Italo Ferreira and Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris.

Biles has already won this award twice, in 2017 and 2019. She’s nominated this time after taking five of a possible six gold medals in the world championships, running her career totals to 19 golds and 25 medals.

WORLDS: Biles breaks career record

Felix broke Usain Bolt’s record for world championship gold medals, winning two relays for her first two gold medals as a mom.

2020: Felix has everything on the table

Rapinoe won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot as the U.S. women won their second straight World Cup, and she was consistently in the spotlight for her outspoken views on LGBTQ rights and equal pay.

AWARD: Rapinoe takes Ballon d’Or

Shiffrin also had a record-setting year, winning 17 World Cup races to take her third straight overall title along with the season titles in slalom, giant slalom and super-G.

RECORD: Shiffrin wraps up fourth globe of 2019

Woods won The Masters, his first major victory in more than a decade. He won the Sportsman of the Year award in 2000 and 2001, along with the Comeback of the Year award last year.

2020: Woods contending for Olympic berth

Gauff became the youngest winner of a WTA Tour event since 2004, taking the Linz Open title at age 15, and defeated Venus Williams on her way to the fourth round at Wimbledon. Smith set a 200m backstroke world record in the world championship semifinals and went on to win the title, along with a medley relay gold, at age 17.

In his first world championship since undergoing surgery for testicular cancer, Adrian took gold in two relays, including a thrilling anchor leg in the 4x100m freestyle.

Masters won five gold medals in the cross-country skiing world championships and two silver medals in the cycling worlds. She won the U.S. Paralympic Athlete of the Year award in November.

Huston three-peated as world champion in the street skateboarding event. Kim swept the world championship and X Games halfpipe events before beginning her studies at Princeton. Moore won her fourth world title.

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David Stern’s favorite basketball memories include iconic Olympics

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In David Stern‘s 30 transformative years as NBA commissioner, two on-court memories reportedly stood out. One of them happened to be at the Olympics.

Specifically, the Dream Team at the 1992 Barcelona Games, the first Olympics with NBA players growing the sport into a global game.

“The march to the gold medal stand, being feted like a combination of the Bolshoi, the Philharmonic and the Beatles,” Stern said before transitioning out of the commissioner role in 2014, according to The New York Times. Stern died Wednesday at age 77.

Stern noted two favorite memories, both from 1992. The other: awarding Magic Johnson the NBA All-Star Game MVP honor in the Laker great’s first game since announcing he had contracted HIV.

“When I announced in 1991 I had HIV, people thought they could get the virus from shaking my hand,” Johnson tweeted Wednesday. “When David allowed me to play in the 1992 All Star Game in Orlando and then play for the Olympic Dream Team, we were able to change the world.”

As for Olympic basketball, the key year for Stern was 1985. That’s when Stern and deputy commissioner Russ Granik welcomed FIBA secretary general Bora Stankovic for a New York meeting. But the NBA execs were far from on board with what would come to fruition seven years later.

“David and I thought that global basketball came with as many burdens as benefits,” Granik said, according to Jack McCallum‘s book “Dream Team,” “and that’s what we told Boris.”

In that meeting, Stern agreed to host what would become the 1987 McDonald’s Open, an event pitting the Milwaukee Bucks against an Italian club team and the Soviet national team. Two years later, a FIBA vote allowed NBA players into the Olympics, though the U.S. Amateur Basketball Association (ABAUSA) was one of the “nay” votes.

ABAUSA voted against it because colleges and high schools that made up most of its constituency opposed it, believing it would take Olympic spots away from amateurs. ”I’m not sure the NBA, if it had a vote, would have voted for it, either,” ABAUSA president Dave Gavitt said in 1989, according to The Associated Press.

“We knew it was going to pass,” Stern said, according to “Dream Team,” “but we were absolutely not enthusiastic about it.”

Then came the Barcelona Games. Stern sat near midcourt for the medal ceremony, where some players covered the Reebok logo on their uniforms, either with their jackets or, in the case of Michael Jordan, an American flag draped over a shoulder.

“[Stern] was proud (in general) of the way the NBA players had comported themselves, proud that they never seemed to rub it in (Charles Barkley‘s elbow not withstanding), proud that eight grind-the-other-guys-into-dust routs had been accomplished without an international incident. But he was also a businessman, schooled in the art of the dead, and was disappointed in the flags and the artfully zipped jackets,” McCallum wrote.

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MORE: U.S. 3×3 basketball teams get one chance to qualify for Olympics

Americans dot dominant Olympic teams of 2010s decade

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NBCSports.com looks back at the 2010s decade this week. Here are six Olympic teams (in team sports) that dominated the last 10 years …

U.S. Men’s Basketball
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
2010, 2014 World titles

The successors to the Redeem Team kept the U.S. Olympic dominance intact in London and Rio, going undefeated under coach Mike KrzyzewskiKevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony have to be the MVPs, going one-two in scoring for the Americans at both Games. Anthony became the first U.S. man to earn three Olympic basketball titles and broke LeBron James‘ career U.S. Olympic points record. The decade ended on a sour note, with the Americans losing in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals in September under new coach Gregg Popovich.

U.S. Women’s Basketball
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
2010, 2014, 2018 World titles

Undefeated in FIBA competition in the 2010s, winning every Olympic and World Cup game by double digits and by an average of 32 points per game. Former University of Connecticut stars Sue BirdDiana Taurasi and Tina Charles were part of every major international roster. Their college coach, Geno Auriemma, was at the helm through the Rio Games. Since, Dawn Staley succeeded Auriemma. Another UConn great, Breanna Stewart, took MVP at the 2018 World Cup.

Canada/U.S. Women’s Hockey
Combined to win every Olympic and world title in the 2010s
Two Olympic finals decided in overtime or shootout

Canada had the edge by winning two of the three Olympic titles. The U.S. owned the rivalry at the world championships — winning six of seven titles. These two national teams define women’s hockey, and so they both belong on this list. It began in Vancouver, where 18-year-old Marie-Philip Poulin scored twice, fellow Olympic rookie Shannon Szabados stopped all 21 U.S. shots and the Canadians celebrated on ice with Molsons, cigars and at least one ice-resurfacing machine. In Sochi, the U.S. squandered a one-goal lead with a minute left, with Poulin scoring the equalizer and the overtime winner. Canada nearly completed a perfect Olympic decade in PyeongChang, giving up a third-period lead and falling in a shootout that went to an extra round. The U.S. was led by stalwart forward Hilary Knight, twins Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando and 20-year-old Olympic rookie goalie Maddie Rooney.

Russia Synchronized Swimming
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
Won all 10 world titles in the 2010s in technical/free routines

Russia owns every Olympic gold medal this millennium in synchronized swimming, which is now called artistic swimming. The dynasty draws from Russia’s balletic traditions. If the program was weak in any aspect, it was from a lack of male synchronized swimmers. But not anymore. The mixed-gender duet events aren’t part of the Olympic program yet, but two debuted on the world championships program in 2015. It wasn’t until this past summer that Russia swept those gold medals.

U.S. Women’s Water Polo
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
2015, 2017, 2019 World titles

The Americans are 149-4 dating to 2015, not dropping a game at an Olympics, World Championship, World Cup or a World League Super Final in that span. They’re currently on a 65-game win streak. They have three games left in 2019, looking to finish 37-0 to complete the first perfect calendar year during the current reign of dominance. Adam Krikorian has been head coach for the entire decade with a bevy of talent at his disposal. The most prominent is Maggie Steffens, a member of every title team this decade at the Olympics, worlds, World Cup and World League.

Honorable Mention: Sweden Women’s Curling and Canada Men’s Hockey.

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BEST OF 2010s: Summer Olympians | Winter Olympians | Teams
MOMENTS: Summer Olympics | Winter Olympics | Paralympics | Viral