Anybody else sick of the MVP race already? I haven't even filled out my ballot and I don't want to read, hear or say another word on the subject. Being the kind of guy who finds self-inflicted pain interesting, naturally I volunteered to write a column on the subject.
Let's see your valuables, sir
This year, it seems, the MVP conversation began two weeks into the season and has never let up. Remember when Elton Brand was a front-runner back in December? Didn't even Andrei Kirilenko get a mention after the Jazz bolted to that 4-2 start? Or was that his wife after ESPN The Magazine revealed her once-a-year-freebie for Andrei?
My point being: All the fuss about who is deserving and who isn't and what makes for an MVP and what doesn't is akin to debating what length of skirt turns a girl from sexy to a slut. No one ever has defined it and no one ever will. You eyeball the evidence and decide based on your personal tastes.
From all the conversations I've had on the MVP subject -- and, trust me, I've had five for every comment I've made on air or online -- MVP has a variety of meanings. For some, it's MEP, or the league's Most Excellent Player. For others, it's MVPOAWT, or Most Valuable Player on a Winning Team. Here's a popular one: MSIPOATTWBTE or Most Statistically Impressive Player on a Team That Was Better Than Expected. Generally, the easiest and safest pick is MVPOTBT: Most Valuable Player on the Best Team. This year has brought a new one to the mix: MDPDTSOATTFS, or Most Dominant Player Down the Stretch on a Team that Finished Strong. And, finally, there's MIP, or Most Indispensable Player, as in the guy whose team would absolutely fall apart without him.
If there's a reason to be particularly fed up with all the Let-me-tell-you-who-the-MVP chatter is this season, other than it has been going on all season and continues to mutate, that's precisely it. Without first defining MVP, and acknowledging that it's your definition and not necessarily anyone else's, it's like raging at your friends for not agreeing with your choice of Air Jordans.
So, for what it's worth, here are my choices for all of the above. And, yes, here's the disclaimer: These are my definitions. Acronymites, feel free to create your own, order your own hardware and have your own happy little award ceremony. The guy who eventually wins the real deal will not feel slighted, I promise you.
MEP --Kobe Bryant.
MVPOAWT -- Dwyane Wade.
MSIPOATTWBTE -- Elton Brand.
MVPOTBT -- Chauncey Billups.
MDPDTSOATTFS -- LeBron James.
MIP -- Steve Nash.
Of course, I might just ask my 3-year-old daughter, Chance, to draw five stick figures -- she just learned how -- and make my selections based on which NBA players they most resemble. The problem with that is, having seen her work, I might have to explain to the league office how Stromile Swift and Francisco Elson made my ballot.
And when it comes to self-inflicted pain, you have to draw the line somewhere.
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AP Photo/Ty Russell
LeBron James was a driving force again, sinking the winner as the Cavs (47-30) beat the Hornets, 103-101.
Rob (Los Angeles): Are the Suns slumping lately, or do they just have nothing to play for with the No. 2 seed locked up for the playoffs? Has this little .500 stretch hurt Nash's MVP chances?
John Hollinger: It's definitely more than just a little malaise -- their defense has been horrible going back to the day Kurt Thomas checked out of the lineup. It's not just that Thomas is a good defender, of course, but that Phoenix has nobody to replace him and has been horribly undersized as a result. As for Nash's MVP chances, you're asking the wrong guy since I was never on his bandwagon in the first place. I would think the answer to your question is yes, but I can't be certain.
Travis (Lansing, Mich.): Give me a sleeper team from each conference come playoffs.
John Hollinger: In the East, I really don't see anybody, unless you want to call New Jersey a "sleeper." I can't imagine any of the top four losing in Round 1, although Washington could at least make things interesting against Cleveland. In the West, I like Memphis' chances a lot. The Grizzlies should have home court against Denver in Round 1 (as long as the Griz remember to lose to the Clippers next Tuesday), and Phoenix has been an absolute sieve on defense ever since Kurt Thomas went out. I wouldn't be completely shocked to see the Griz in the conference finals nor would I be surprised if they were routed 4-0 once they got there.
Plodding Z Makes Cavs Run Better
Curry Still On Knick Menu
Record Under West Impressive
Dirk Nowitzki's 18-foot jumper over Chris Kaman with 0.7 seconds remaining lifted the Mavericks to a 75-73 victory over the Clippers. Dallas (59-19) moved within a half-game of the Spurs for the West's best mark.
Mavs Inch Closer
Kent Horner/ NBAE via Getty Images
This likely is the last Yao Ming action shot you'll see this season. The Rockets' center broke his left foot in the first quarter of a loss to Utah. Yao was averaging 22.6 points and 10.3 rebounds this season.
Quote of the Day
Regular readers ... know I've long been touting Steve Nash as this year's MVP. But for the first time since Kobe came back to earth in February, I'm having doubts.
LeBron James has been so good that, in my mind, the two are now neck and neck for the award.
The amazing thing is that James doesn't seem to be getting much consideration. Kobe and Dwyane Wade seem to be viewed as Nash's main competitors, but in my mind, it's strictly a two-man race.
My view has become similar to last season's when I would have felt comfortable with either Nash or Shaq winning MVP. But honestly, the more I look at what LeBron has done, the more I think he should get it.
LeBron James hit a field goal in the final second of play to give the Cavaliers a 103-101 win over the Hornets. James has made 19 of 29 field-goal attempts (66 percent) this season in the last two minutes of a one-possession game. No other player with at least 25 attempts has made more than half of them. Derek Fisher ranks second at 50 percent (13-for-26).
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NBA scouts left Portsmouth (most of them Thursday evening, just a day and a half into the camp) underwhelmed. Several players played well, but the consensus among scouts was that no one had a Jason Maxiell-type performance that would propel him into the first round.
That's not a huge surprise. Since 2000, only two players who have played at Portsmouth, John Salmons and Maxiell, have been drafted in the first round.
According to NBA scouts and executives, several players did perform well enough to plant themselves firmly on the second-round radar. Several executives believe that three to five of the players who played here in the Virginia showcase will get drafted in the second round.
If history repeats itself, all the draftable players will show up again -- at the Orlando pre-draft camp in June. Since 2000, every Portsmouth player who eventually was drafted also played in the NBA's more prestigious pre-draft camp in June.