Nash averaged only 15.5 points. Yet he led the league with 11.5 assists – and his Suns led the league with 110 points a game and led in 3-point shooting.

Then again, how many of Nash's assists came off fast-break opportunities – off alley-oop dunks or spot-up three-on-one 3s? Half?

Nash was the NBA equivalent of the Heisman Trophy winner who puts up sensational numbers in a run-and-shoot offense. As terrific as Nash was, he was partly a product of a Suns solar system around which sharpshooting athletes revolve.

Nash isn't even the best player on his team. If, hypothetically, you gave other teams the chance to take Nash or Stoudemire just for next season, most GMs surely would take Stoudemire. He's a 6-10, shot-blocking, court-running force.

But given a choice between Stoudemire and Shaq for next season, all GMs would take Shaq.

Yes, Shaq's team was a little better when he was hurt than Nash's was when he was out. But do not underestimate the confidence Shaq already had inspired in his teammates. Ever since the Lakers dumped – sorry, traded – Shaq for the insulting price of Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Brian Grant, this man has been on a mission to create a championship team in Miami.

He has done so on and off the court.

The double-teams he demands have created game-to-game star-making opportunities for spare parts named Damon Jones and Udonis Haslem. And no way Dwyane Wade, as great as he will be, would already be considered a superstar without Shaq showing him the way.

Also laughable has been the notion that Wade has become Miami's most valuable player. Please. The reason this team played so well without Shaq is that he has taught all these guys how to win. Into their locker room and lives walked a giant of a man who had finally dedicated himself to getting into the best shape of his life – a leader who now takes winning far more seriously than he takes himself.

Shaquille O'Neal is now the NBA's funniest and wisest interview. His "Godfather" analogy was the quote of the year. He compared Kobe to Sonny Corleone: "Too dumb to be in control, but he will always do whatever it takes to be in control." Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway to Fredo: "He thinks he's smart, but he's really not." And Wade to Michael: "A very mature, humble guy."

Deep down, every Miami player now thinks: We have Shaq and you don't.

So how did Nash win MVP?

In his Sunday column, Miami Herald columnist Dan LeBatard raised the race question: Did voters favor Nash – even subliminally – because he's white? LeBatard drew no conclusion.

Yet so many of the voters are not white that I don't buy racial bias. Sure, the league office enjoys having a white star win MVP because a majority of the ticket buyers are white. But that isn't why he won.

Shaquille O'Neal
He's not called the Diesel for nothing. Not convinced? Go ask the Laker fans.

Sure, Nash is a good guy and a locker-room favorite of reporters of all colors. And yes, his soccer-style header pass to Stoudemire in the NBA dunk contest won lots of hearts. But it shouldn't have won him MVP.

No, the only bias I suspect is Giant Bias. Deep down, voters consider Shaq such a freakishly gifted dancing bear of a man – so big, so good – that he could win MVP every season. After all, he already has won three rings and three Finals MVPs.

Continued...


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