I know I usually write about rugby, cricket & sometimes soccer but felt that it’s time to go back to my roots so to speak. Write about a sport not very popular in South Africa but is still very special to me. I’m talking about basketball ofcoz & more specifically, NBA Basketball. When I started watching & playing bball back in the mid-late 90’s, the NBA’s slogan was: I LOVE THIS GAME & that’s exactly how I felt about that game.
Technically I don’t play the sport anymore. I say technically because once I put my NBA2K11 in my ps3, I don’t wana stop playing. So yeah, I don’t play anymore but I still follow the NBA to check the daily game results, news about teams & the standings and ofcoz how my favorite players are performing. I can’t really pick or support a team because I don’t feel any connection with them. I mean I support the Stormers because their based in the Western Cape which is where I grew up but I can’t be a Boston Celtic fan like Mark Wahlberg & Matt Damon or a LA fan like Jack Nicholson but I can be fan of the players and that is actually what this blog is about.
The NBA’s 2010 / 2011 regular season is coming to an end & it’s almost playoff time where 16 teams divided into 2 conferences will have the opportunity to play for the ultimate goal: winning a NBA championship. Usually during the 1st round of the playoffs we’ll also find out who this season’s MVP (most valuable player) is which is the highest individual accolade a player can get. There is also a NBA Finals MVP but in my opinion it doesn’t carry that much weight as a regular season MVP unless you can win both in the same season, something Michael Jordan did no less than 4 times!!!
Do you have any idea how good you’ll have to be do that??
Put it this way: Of the current crop of NBA Superstars who have been ballin since MJ last won the double MVP award back in 1998, only Shaq & Tim Duncan have achieved the feat once in 2000 & 2003 respectively & both of them are considered all time greats.
Kobe Bryant could’ve done in the 2007/08 season after winning the MVP that season but failed to get past the Celtics in the NBA finals. Lebron James has won the MVP for the last 2 seasons but his then Cleveland Cavaliers team couldn’t even get to the NBA finals. Maybe there shouldn’t be 2 MVP awards. Just have one MVP award that you hand it out to the best player of the team that won the championship
In my opinion the regular season MVP is locked by one player but I’ll give you my top 4 candidates:
4. Lebron James – Miami Heat
Efficiency rating: +28.53
Team record: 56 – 24
It looks like it doesn’t matter where he plays or who he’s playing with, LBDub will still produce MVP numbers. Almost every game that he’s playing, he’s a triple double threat in that he can easily score more than 10 points, dish out 10 assists & grab 10 rebounds. But it doesn’t matter what James can do on a nightly basis because in D-Wade & Chris Bosh, he’s got the help he could only have dreamt for in his first 7 seasons with the Cavaliers. He’ll probably finish second or third in the real MVP race but he’s nr. 4 in my books.
3. Dwight Howard – Orlando Magic
Efficiency rating: +28.39
Team record: 50 – 30
Superman is having another brilliant season but he’s team isn’t though and should the Magic be a failure in the playoffs, alarm bells with be going off as Howard is approaching free agency. They’ve also already lost Shaq in the mid-90’s & look what he went on to achieve. Dwight will probably win his 3rd consecutive Defensive Player of the year award, so if he can get the MVP, he’ll probably achieve something that hasn’t been done since that other Chicago Bulls guy did it in the late 80’s.
But Howard’s chances of getting that illusive award is severely damaged by his team’s lower-than-expected record.
2. Kobe Bryant – LA Lakers
Efficiency rating: 21.19
Team record: 55 – 25
Cometh the hour, cometh the mamba. Just like Hollywood, The Lakers have had their fair share drama, action & suspense & some people actually said they wouldn’t get past the then hot teams like Mavericks & Spurs in the Western Conference. But since the All Star break (& when it mattered most) L A has been on fire & they are spearheaded by Mr. L A himself: Kobe Bryant. He may not be the Kobe of a couple of years ago where he averaged 34 points, or scored 50 or more in 4 consecutive games, or scored 62 points in just 3 quarters or finish a game with 81 points but he doesn’t need to be that Kobe anymore as he got team mates now that can help him carry the scoring load. He showed in the All Star game that he still can jump & dunk & score points in a hurry, so come playoffs, watch out for the mamba. I still find it weird that a guy that’s been considered the NBA’s best player for the last 10 or so seasons has only one MVP under his belt when you also consider that he’s a 5 time champion but that’s coz the game has so many superstars these days.
In the 80’s Magic & Bird ruled the NBA capturing 6 MVP’s between them. The 90’s were ruled by Jordan capturing the award 4 times & once in 80’s too. But since MJ, only 3 players managed to win the award more than once: They were Tim Duncan, Steve Nash & Lebron James & one has to wonder how many MVP’s James would’ve won had he stayed on in Cleveland. We’ll never know now. And my MVP is:
1. Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls
Efficiency rating: 23.35
Team record: 60 – 20
Ah man, what a feel good story this guy is!! Born & raised in Chicago, this guy was an absolute sensation in highschool. Then he goes & play one season for the Memphis Tigers, take them to championship game & then he gets drafted to play for his home town Chicago Bulls. He obviously won Rookie of the year that season & now he’s on the verge of winning his first MVP award & from what I’ve reading he’s going to win it & well deserved. The Bulls are having an awesome season so far under rookie coach Tom Thibodeau & Rose is leading this team aplomb. There must a lot of pressure on a superstar playing in the city where Jordan did his thing. I mean how do follow up the greatest ever to play the game? I guess you do don’t & I also think that Rose realized that very early in his young career. And he’s doing it without any superstars!!! That’s the amazing part. Lebron got Wade & Bosh (2 of the top players in their positions in the NBA).
Kobe got Pau Gasol (the best player ever to come out of Spain) & before that he had Shaq (the most dominant big man in this generation), The Celtics are not the Big Three anymore, not with Rajon Rondo being their MVP, Tim Duncan got Manu & TP. Hell, even MJ had Pippen (probably the most versatile player in his era). Who does Rose have?? An up-n-coming center in Joakim Noah & a FORMER all star in Carlos Boozer. 2 players that didn’t play for a combined SIXTY games this season & look the Bulls team record!! Nah man, Rose has got to be MVP this season & with this guy at the helm, the Bulls will have lots of chances to add to their 6 titles coz he’s just 22 years old & should he win, he’ll become the youngest player in the historty of the NBA to do so.
And just like Ahmad Rashad did back in the day: I’ll add him to my main man list.
So yeah, I think I they should have just one MVP award at the end of the season & award it to best player on a team who won the NBA title that season. If that was the case Kobe would’ve deservedly won 2 or more MVP’s & guys like Duncan & Shaq would’ve won at least 3. As harsh as it may sound, you cant win such a prestigious award & not take your team to the promise land and that’s also why I hope Rose wins it this season – just incase the NBA actually do what I suggested.