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BOSTON -- We have two stories to tell about the Kevin Garnett-for-MVP debate, one from before Wednesday night's Suns-Celtics game, the other from afterward.First, though, let's set the parameters for this debate, because there is a school of thought out there -- a ridiculous one, but a school of thought nonetheless -- that KG doesn't even belong in the debate. "What are his numbers?" one-time MVP Shaquille O'Neal asked in the Suns' locker room an hour before tipoff when the KG-for-MVP question was raised. His numbers? Well, if you're judging him solely by his individual numbers, maybe it's true that he doesn't belong in the debate. Garnett does not lead his team in scoring (he's averaging 19.0 points, second on the team to Paul Pierce's 20.1), is third in minutes played (behind Pierce and Ray Allen) and does not lead the Celtics in either of the two defensive stats, steals and blocks -- all stats the numbers-oriented people (we're talking about you here, Shaq) get so hyped up about when it comes to choosing an MVP. Numbers can tell different stories, and there are other numbers that can be used to make the case against Garnett being the MVP. • The No. 9, as in the nine games Boston played without Garnett, going 7-2 when he went down at midseason with an abdominal strain. • The No. 1, as in the total number of MVP awards Garnett has already won, which is exactly one more than the number that another strong MVP candidate, Kobe Bryant, has accumulated over his career. "It might be his year," conceded Garnett's coach, Doc Rivers. • The No. 20, which is the number of assists Chris Paul -- arguably the third member of the troika of leading MVP candidates -- put on the board against Cleveland on Wednesday night, marking the 48th time he has reached double figures in that category this season while leading the New Orleans Hornets to the top of the Western Conference standings. • The No. 30. Garnett reached that number in the points column for only the second time all season in Boston's 117-97 drubbing of the Suns on Wednesday night. Kobe? He's scored 30 or more 34 times this season.
It's not how you start, it's how you -- and your team -- finish. Here are the March numbers for MVP candidates Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett:
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Brian Windhorst covers the NBA for the Akron Beacon Journal
Chris Webber went to two Final Fours in his college career at Michigan. He also went to two "Final Fours" (aka conference championship series) in his NBA career. But he failed to win the big prize in either league.
Only three other players are able to say that, including one of his former Fab Five teammates at Michigan.
Reaching Multiple Final Fours in College And NBA
Without Winning a Title at Either Level
|Player||NCAA Final Fours||NBA "Final Fours"|
|Chris Webber||'92, '93 Michigan||'02 Kings, '07 Pistons|
|Jalen Rose||'92, '93 Michigan||'98, '99, '00 Pacers|
|Alaa Abdelnaby||'88, '89, '90 Duke||'91, '92, Trail Blazers|
|Guy Rodgers||'56, '58 Temple||'60, '62, '64 Warriors, '70 Bucks|
-- Andrew Ayres
BOSTON -- Ever hear about the 15-year-old who body-slammed Shaquille O'Neal?The guy who did it was a Big Baby then, too. Glen Davis had another memorable moment against O'Neal when he ripped a rebound out of his elder's hands Wednesday night in Boston's 20-point victory over Phoenix, some seven years after the body-slam moment the two big men still remember today. That day in the summer of 2001, in a backyard of an academic elder's house on the campus of LSU, Davis found himself staring at the player he idolized. On a mutual whim, the two began wrestling. And the winner was clear when Davis, completely unintimidated, shocked the Diesel by lifting and slamming the 7-foot-1, 350-pounder to the ground. O'Neal had a laugh while recalling the moment, but it clearly left an impression -- and it helped Davis get introduced to Dale Brown, then LSU's coach. Davis, still small in comparison with O'Neal's girth, matched up numerous times with Shaq on Wednesday and -- with a little help from the rest of the Celtics -- had the upper hand again. "I just threw him down. It was two friends wrestling in the backyard and I won," said Davis, who made it clear that he wasn't nearly the size he is today when that match happened. Still, he has a story from his teenage years that no other former 15-year-old can top.
In an interview with ESPN Radio's Mike Golic and Erik Kuselias, Suns GM Steve Kerr talked about how stressful the initial days were after the Shaq trade. Also, Kerr likes the Spurs in the West, aside from his team, because they're veterans and know how to win.
AP Photo/Ron Schwane
Hornets forward David West reacts after hitting the game-winning shot against the Cavaliers. The Hornets won 100-99.