Hamilton basketball star named CP Male Athlete of the Year

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Published December 29, 2023 at 12:34 am

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. 2023 CP Male Athlete of the Year

The accolades keep pouring in for Hamilton star baller Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the 2023 Lionel Conacher Award winner as the Canadian Press Male Athlete of the Year.

Gilgeous-Alexander, who broke out last year and is now considered one of the best talents in the world’s best basketball league, finished with 12 votes in a hotly-contested poll among sports journalists and broadcasters. NHL superstar Connor McDavid was one back at 11, with golfer Nick Taylor, who won the Canadian Open this year, and decathlon world champion Pierce LePage tied for third with 10.

He is just the second basketballer to win it, following Steve Nash, who won it three times.

The former Sir Allan McNab Secondary star averaged 31.4 points, 5.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season – one of the best statistical seasons by a Canadian basketballer in history.

The 25 year-old, who is posting even better numbers for his 20-9 Oklahoma City Thunder this season, was also instrumental in Canada’s men’s basketball team qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

He was named to the all-tournament team at the FIBA World Cup – he was a candidate for MVP – after leading Canada to bronze, averaging 26.3 points, 4.7 assists and four rebounds at the World Cup.

Gilgeous-Alexander also won earned the Northern Star Award as Canada’s athlete of the year earlier this month, again beating out McDavid and Taylor, as well as decorated hammer thrower Camryn Rogers and superstar swimmer Summer McIntosh.

“Representing Hamilton and helping grow the game of basketball in Canada is one of the true joys of playing in the NBA,” he said in a statement. “One thing I take great pride in is my work ethic, and with the Thunder I try to bring my best every single day to make my home country proud.”

“One thing I take great pride in is my work ethic, and with the Thunder I try to bring my best every single day to make my home country proud.”

Gilgeous-Alexander will be looking to lead Canada to the podium at the 2024 Paris Games after that star turn in the World Cup, with his run including a 31-point, 12-assist performance in the overtime win over the Americans in the bronze-medal game.

“Playing for Team Canada is an honour, and being a part of the squad that won bronze at the World Cup is a career highlight, but I can’t wait to put the work in to aim for greater heights in Paris in 2024,” Gilgeous-Alexander said.

Hamilton athletes have won the Lionel Conacher Award four time previous, with two awards each given to Canadian football legends Russ Jackson and Joe Kroll.

Kroll won the first two following the four war years in which no awards were given in 1946 and 1947 while Jackson – the pride of Westdale Secondary and McMaster University, earned his two ten years apart in 1959 and in 1969, following his second straight Grey Cup title with the Ottawa Rough Riders.

Wayne Gretzky has won the most Lionel Conacher Awards with six, followed by Hall of Fame pitcher Fergy Jenkins with four. Sydney Crosby, Rocket Richard, Nash and golfer Mike Weir have won it three times each.

With files from Canadian Press

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