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Vince Thomas

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And the Vinny for MVP goes to ... you were expecting maybe Shaq?
Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

'Vinnys' outdo the Grammys by getting it right


Posted Feb 2 2010 3:05PM

I didn't watch the Grammys on Sunday night. I had too much DVR'd hoops and HBO to watch. Plus, what grown man really cares about the Grammys? A lot of women watch for the fashion and the melodrama of, say, Pink's Glitter in the Air performance. It's not really about the actual awards for most of them.

It is for me, though. And the award winners range from irksome to infuriating. The last three years have given us these three winners for Album of the Year: Herbie Hancock's River - The Joni Letters in 2008, Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alisson Kraus in 2009 and, lord help me, Taylor freaking Swift.

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I could go on and on and on and on and on listing more deserving albums over the past three years than the Grammy winners, but that'd be an exercise in "duhhhh." People like to call sports awards subjective. They're straight-up scientific when you compare them with a shamockery like the Grammys -- especially the general categories. You mean to tell me that we should accord even a modicum of respect to some select group that tries to determine the best song or record or album from literally thousands of artists spread over dozens of genres and sub-genres? Not to mention, the bulk of the Grammy audience gorge on Top 40 and wouldn't know a song like Two Weeks or an album like Unsimdo if they were jackhammered into their foreheads.

But here's what we know about NBA awards: the game is basketball, the league is the NBA and, at the end of day, there are measures like productivity and wins to give us a relatively good basis to make picks.

It's February, which, to me, always acts as my figurative halfway-mark. Not "halfway mark" as in, uh, actually halfway. But if teams were running the 200-yard dash, they're past the curve. So, I thought it'd be a good time for me to look at the first portion of the season and hand out some awards. We'll call them The Vinnys. Unlike the Grammys, however, you won't get any Taylor Swift picks out of me:

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Nominees: LeBron James, Cleveland; Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers; Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City; Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas; Carmelo Anthony, Denver.

"And The Vinny goes to...": LeBron James

The Cavs are on pace for another win total in the mid-60s -- that's with new guys playing significant minutes, an injured starting backcourt and old big men. LeBron, for this season, is turning in the most valuable performance of any ballplayer in recent memory.

COACH

Nominees: Mike Woodson, Atlanta; Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City; Mike Brown, Cleveland; Lionel Hollins, Memphis; Jerry Sloan, Utah.

"And The Vinny goes to...": Lionel Hollins

Hollins held the squad together during the early season Iverson fiasco, then proceeded to lead them into playoff contention. This is a team whose veteran leaders are Zach Randolph and Jamaal Tinsley (let that marinate for a few minutes) and the other key players are all younger than 25.

SIXTH MAN

Nominees: Lamar Odom, Los Angeles; Jamal Crawford, Atlanta; Jason Terry, Dallas; JR Smith, Denver; Carl Landry, Houston.

"And The Vinny goes to...": Jamal Crawford

JET is always in the mix and Landry has been surprisingly impressive, but this isn't close, right now. Crawford is the X-Factor of all X-Factors. Here's a prediction: He will be Atlanta's most important/impactful player in the playoffs.

ROOKIE

Nominees: Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee; Tyreke Evans, Sacramento; Stephen Curry, Golden State; DeJuan Blair, San Antonio; Jonny Flynn, Minnesota.

"And The Vinny goes to...": Tyreke Evans

This isn't the runaway pick that a lot of folks say it is. After the Kings' strong start, they've settled down to preseason expectations ... that means they've been playing terrible basketball. The Bucks, meanwhile, are staying in playoff contention and even if Jennings is shooting terribly (and I mean abysmal, as in 32 percent for January), he's running the squad with a veteran's deftness. But ultimately, any rook slapping up a routine 20-5-5 (and 46 percent from the field), like 'Reke, is going to have an edge.

MOST IMPROVED

Nominees: Kevin Durant, OKC; Zach Randolph, Memphis; Marc Gasol, Memphis; Aaron Brooks, Houston; Gerald Wallace, Charlotte.

"And The Vinny goes to...": Kevin Durant

This is simple. He's gone from a really good and promising young star to one of the five or six best players in the league. Case closed.

Vincent Thomas writes "The Commish" column for SLAM Magazine and is a contributing commentator for ESPN. You can e-mail him here or follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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