Honors in an award-winning season
An NBA season that introduced us to Bron Bron and 'Melo has something going for it.
And so this past campaign, with the best rookie class since '96 and one of the best of all time, had its moments. To be sure, the West is still superior to the East, but the gap is closing. To be sure, the Lakers are still fussin' and feudin', but what would life be without them? And to be sure, the playoffs will be wondrous -- and ponderously long. But what has caught my attention most about the season past is the idea of renaissance, of new possibilities.
For the longest time, pro ball was but a rumor in Denver, and Cleveland, and Memphis, and forgotten in cities like Miami. That changed this year, proving once again that it's not the size of the media market or amount of loot in the owner's wallet that makes the difference. Sure, it was easy to take LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. But those teams didn't just stand pat with their prized rookies; they improved the squads around them. And how do you explain the Logo getting it done 3,000 miles from LaLa, without a lot of cap room or high draft picks? Smart people manage to come out on top in the end.
Which brings me to this season's awards. All the winners possess a combination of native intelligence and severe work ethic. And they've made this a year worth remembering. Which reminds me to remind you as I do every season: I don't want any guff about my picks. They're my picks, for my reasons, and I only have to justify them to myself. When you get the ballot, you can pick who you want, for your reasons. That's why they call it Election Day, after all.
Also under consideration: Hubie Brown, Grizzlies; Jeff Bzdelik, Nuggets; Phil Jackson, Lakers; Rick Carlisle, Pacers.
Also under consideration: Kevin McHale, Timberwolves; Kevin O'Connor, Jazz; Jerry West, Grizzlies; Larry Harris, Milwaukee.
First team G Jason Kidd, Nets G Kobe Bryant, Lakers F Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves F Jermaine O'Neal, Pacers C Ben Wallace, Pistons Second team G Sam Cassell, Timberwolves G Baron Davis, Hornets F Peja Stojakovic, Kings F Tim Duncan, Spurs C Shaquille O'Neal, Lakers Third team G Paul Pierce, Celtics G Michael Redd, Bucks F Brad Miller, Kings F Zach Randolph, Trail Blazers C Yao Ming, Rockets
My annual tip of the hat to guys on losing or otherwise forgotten squads that are doing work night in and night out, and deserve a moment in the sun.
Eric Snow, Sixers Corey Maggette, Clippers Shawn Marion, Suns Etan Thomas, Wizards Erick Dampier, Warriors