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Cam Newton, Steph Curry, UNC basketball up for ESPY Awards

Cam Newton celebrates as he takes the field for his second kickball game at his annual Kick it with Cam! celebrity charity kickball tournament Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
Cam Newton celebrates as he takes the field for his second kickball game at his annual Kick it with Cam! celebrity charity kickball tournament Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry and the UNC Tar Heels came up short in their respective championship games last season, but the quarterback, the point guard and the men’s basketball team can all win ESPYs.

ESPN released the list of nominations for the 2016 ESPY awards. Think of the ESPYs like ESPN’s version of the Oscar Awards for sports personalities.

Newton, the reigning NFL MVP who led his team to the Super Bowl, was nominated for Best Male Athlete and Best NFL player. Curry is up for Best Male Athlete, with Newton. And UNC and coach Roy Williams were nominated for Best Game for their NCAA basketball championship loss to Villanova.

The ESPYs, hosted by WWE wrestler John Cena, will air live Wednesday, July 13 at 8 p.m. on ABC (WSOC-TV, Channel 9 in Charlotte).

Winners will be determined by a fan vote at ESPYS.com. A nomination special will air Thursday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

A few highlights:

▪ In Best Male Athlete, Curry -- also up for Best Record-Breaking Performance -- and Newton are joined by Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper. Harper is also nominated for best MLB player.

▪ In Best NFL player, Newton is paired against New England QB Tom Brady, Houston defensive end JJ Watt, Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown and Julio Jones of the Falcons.

▪ The UConn Huskies Women’s basketball team is the only Best Team nominee returning from 2015. They are nominated for the third straight year and ninth time in the award shows history.

▪ San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard will battle with Curry, James and Oklahoma City stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and LeBron James for Best NBA player. James, who led his team past Curry’s Warriors in Sunday’s NBA Finals, is in the running for a 12th-straight year.

▪ Serena Williams is nominated again for Best Female Tennis player. She has won seven times previously and faces a field of first-time nominees: Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, and French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza.

▪ The Tar Heels basketball is team is up for Best Game. UNC’s NCAA championship with Villanova is paired against the Arizona-Green Bay NFL playoff game and the Warriors-Cavaliers Game 7 from Sunday.

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