Jose Altuve of the World Series champion Houston Astros and Alex Ovechkin of the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals are both nominees for the award. But so are New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Houston Rockets guard James Harden.
Brady, a three-time ESPYS best male athlete nominee, lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. Harden, who is a first-time nominee along with Altuve and Ovechkin, extended the champion Golden State Warriors to seven games before being eliminated in the Western Conference finals.
Olympic skier Mikaela Shiffrin will contend for the ESPY for best female athlete for a second time. Her competition includes three first-time nominees -- Sylvia Fowles of the WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx, Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim and soccer player Julie Ertz.
The ESPYS, which honor the past year's top sports achievements and moments, will be hosted by newly retired race car driver Danica Patrick when the show airs July 18 from Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
The Warriors'Kevin Durant, who won last year, again received a nod for best championship performance. He goes against Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, World Series MVP George Springer and Villanova Wildcats guard Donte DiVincenzo, who was the most outstanding player of the men's Final Four.
Brady also is nominated for record-breaking performance, along with tennis star Roger Federer, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and Diana Taurasi of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury.
Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James earned his 14th consecutive nomination for best NBA player and will be going for his third straight trophy. He is up against Harden, Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis of the Pelicans.
The nominees for breakthrough athlete are Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara and tennis player Sloane Stephens.
Winners of most categories will be determined by online fan voting that ends before the show airs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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