The ESPYS honor the greatest athletes, coaches, teams, and performances for their yearly achievements. Candidates are selected by a committee and winners are selected through fan-voting and receive the prestigious ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Award. This year the ESPYS are in Los Angeles, CA and new Lizards owner Jim Brown has chosen to take Gurenlian as his plus-one.
“I am excited that Jim Brown even considered taking me,” says Gurenlian. “It is such an honor. Not only is he considered one of the greatest athletes in American history, he is also a very, very good man. He has been great to me and to our organization.”
Since Jim Brown joined the Lizards organization in May of this year, Gurenlian and his teammates have had the chance to meet Brown, talk to him, and even experience a pregame pump-up speech. He enjoys seeing the excitement and passion Brown has toward the sport of lacrosse, the Lizards, and MLL. They both want the league to succeed and are proud to be a part of it.
“As an accomplished man and athlete, it is great to see that he still has excitement about lacrosse,” says Gurenlian of Brown’s passion for the league. “I am excited to have this one-on-one opportunity to pick his brain and hopefully learn more about myself as a person and as an athlete.”
He jokes that he is going to have to step his game up in order to be Jim Brown’s “arm candy.” He had to enlist the help of his fiancé for fashion advice so he could avoid embarrassing himself next to Brown, who Gurenlian claims is going to be “dressed to the nines.”
In addition to spending some quality time with Brown, Gurenlian is excited to be surrounded by some of the world’s greatest athletes. Some of his favorite athletes will be there and he does not want to miss the opportunity to introduce himself. He just hopes Brown doesn’t introduce him to anyone as “The Beast,” the nickname he has adopted as one of the most dominant face-off specialists since joining the league in 2006 (he is 151-249 for the season).
“That would be a little embarrassing,” laughs Gurenlian. “I mean I’m big in lacrosse, but if Ray Lewis heard that I am sure he would be skeptical as to why I am called ‘The Beast’.”
He really would love to see how other athletes think about lacrosse and get their view on the sport. He thinks he could learn a lot from their viewpoints.
“In the past, the most times I have been asked about lacrosse were during the Duke situation and the terrible tragedy that happened at Virginia,” explains Gurenlian. “I never get questions about the sick play during last night’s game. Unfortunately, lacrosse has had a lot of negative press when it actually does a lot of great things.”
Gurenlian is hoping his presence at the ESPYS and Jim Brown’s association with the league will shed more positive light on lacrosse for other athletes and those involved in the sports industry. In particular, he hopes this makes a difference in creating more excitement about MLL games. With so many of this season’s games being televised on national networks like ESPN2 and CBS Sports Network, Gurenlian sees this as a great opportunity to market all of the great athletes, new teams and faces that make up the league.
“I hope this will lead to bigger and better things [for MLL] because I really want this league to continue to grow,” says Gurenlian. “I couldn’t imagine if my career had ended in college. I am so happy that I get to play in this league and it’s just a bonus that I get to represent MLL at the ESPYS.”
We got Greg’s view on a few of his favorites for four of the ESPY Award nomination categories.
Best Male Athlete: Lebron James. I know a lot of people hate him just because he picked to live in South Beach rather than Cleveland, which is what everyone would do. But I don’t think any athlete has been scrutinized as much as he and has still managed to come out on top. I have a lot of respect for that.
Best Female Athlete: Abby Wambach. I haven’t seen many people step up the way she did in the Women’s World Cup. When I had to spend all of last summer with my knee up in the air after my operation, the Women’s World Cup was the most exciting thing that happened to me all summer. Abby is a phenomenal leader and athlete.
Best Record-Breaking Performance: Coach K’s Wins Milestone. As someone who coaches for a living, I have to say that I have always had a lot of respect for college coaches no matter what sport. Coach K embodies just about everything that a coach and a person should. His teams always play the right way. You never see kids dropping out of school and you don’t see many one and done players. He teaches the sport the right way and he teaches the game the right way.
Best Breakthrough Athlete: Alex Morgan. I think that she is going to continue to rise and do more and more for the sport. She came off of the bench initially in the Women’s World Cup and really showed what she can do. I think she will be a very prominent striker for a long time for U.S. Soccer.