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GIVE THEM AWAY, NOW
Posted by Rob Peterson on April 12 2004 2:30 p.m. ET

IT'S AWARDS TIME

When it comes to awards for NBA players, everybody wants to get into the act.

Every writer feels the need to let you know that he knows that you know that he knows what he's talking about.

So do they? Maybe you'd like to read how some teams are lobbying for their guys.
-- ESPN.com

Or, maybe you'd like to hear what the experts have to say.

And the winners are ...
-- Marc Stein, ESPN.com

And the winner is ...
-- Jack McCallum, Sports Illustrated

Da Kid is Da Man
-- Marty Burns, Sports Illustrated

My Own Awards Debate
-- Ric Bucher, ESPN the Magazine

(Just wondering: Why ESPN the Magazine? They don't call it ESPN the Radio or ESPN the Classic? Foomph! There's another bridge on fire.)

Popovich likes Garnett for MVP
-- Gregg Popovich via Mike Monroe, San Antonio Express-News

League's leading men
-- Tom Enlund, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Aschburner's regular-season awards
-- Steve Aschburner, Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Registration required)

Picking MVP easy, coach a tough one
-- Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle

It's time to roll with end-of-the-season honors
-- Milton Kent, Baltimore Sun

Book it: Garnett is MVP
-- Paul Coro, Arizona Republic

Suggestions for post-season awards
-- Chris Perkins, Palm Beach Post

And the winners are ...
-- David Moore, Dallas Morning News<

The envelopes please
-- Dwain Price, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Kid has become the Man
-- Scott Howard-Cooper, Sacramento Bee

What are my picks? I thought you'd never ask!

MVP
Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
I thought he should have been MVP last year when he led his team in every major statistical category. Sure, getting Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell helped, but third in scoring (24.3 ppg) and first in rebounding (13.9 rpg) seal the deal.
Others: Tim Duncan, Spurs; Jermaine O'Neal, Pacers; Shaquille O'Neal, Lakers; Peja Stojakovic, Kings

COACH OF THE YEAR
Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs
Could there be a tougher category? I know the sentimental choices are Utah's Jerry Sloan and Memphis's Hubie Brown, but Popovich deserves some kudos. He has two-time MVP, Tim Duncan, but he also had an MVP who missed 13 games, 21-year-old point guard and six new faces to incorporate.
Others: Rick Adelman, Kings; Hubie Brown; Larry Brown, Pistons; Jeff Bzdelik, Nuggets; Rick Carlisle, Pacers; Phil Jackson, Lakers; Terry Porter, Bucks; Stan Van Gundy, Heat: Jerry Sloan

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Yeah, yeah, I know Carmelo Anthony has helped the Nuggets to the playoffs precipice, but no one came in with the hype that LeBron did. And James didn't disappoint.
Others: Carmelo Anthony; Dwyane Wade, Heat

SIXTH MAN AWARD
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
The Kings' Bobby Jackson could win this every year, but he has missed 30 games this season and the Kings suffered because of it. Ginobili gets it done on both ends of the floor.
Others: Jackson, Kings; Antwan Jamison, Mavericks; Desmond Mason, Bucks; Bonzi Wells, Grizzlies

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
Carlos Boozer, Cleveland Cavaliers
We've been big Carlos Boozer fans since his rookie season. Yet, with four more boards per game (7.5 rpg to 11.5 rpg) and 5.5 more points (10.0 ppg to 15.5 ppg), Boozer made great strides in his second season. It's just too bad for Cavs fans the improvement didn't translate into a playoff berth.
Others: Samuel Dalembert, Sixers; Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz; James Posey, Grizzlies

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Ron Artest, Indiana Pacers
As intense as 1,000 suns, he's proof that channeling that energy of his could result in great things for him and the Pacers.
Others: Kevin Garnett, Wolves; Theo Ratliff, Blazers; Ben Wallace, Pistons

LAKERS AND KINGS, BEFORE AND AFTER

All of these articles appeared before Sunday's game between the Lakers and the Kings, a game in which the Kings stomped the Lakers, 102-85.

Sunday's papers

Only a bold move by Adelman can save the season
-- Ailene Voisin, Sacramento Bee

Kings Try to Restore Luster to Golden Age
-- Mark Heisler, Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

Their Issues are Bigger than the Game
-- J.A. Adande, Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

Do or Die? The Kings Should Just Die
-- Steve Dilbeck, Los Angeles Daily News

Now, watch how quickly things change.

Monday's papers

Lakers, Kobe have no shot
-- Tim Brown, Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

Maybe the Kings Simply Exposed the Implosion
-- Mark Heisler, Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

When Bryant Doesn't Shoot First, Questions Asked Later
-- J.A. Adande, Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

'Disappointed ... and it showed
-- Howard Beck, Los Angeles Daily News

Kobe and Shaq have differing views on the Kings' defense
-- Ailene Voisin, Sacramento Bee

One thing is for sure, at least for the Lakers: Turbulence is the norm.
-- Sacramento Bee

SMELLS LIKE ... POP QUIZ

On April 5, the Milwaukee Bucks, currently the Eastern Conference's fourth seed, had just beaten the Nets in New Jersey. Bucks coach Terry Porter was understandably pleased with his team's effort against the two-time defending Eastern Conference champs. After being asked how it felt to close in on home-court advantage, Porter had an interesting response.

We'll let the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel take it from here.

"'It's getting closer,' coach Terry Porter said, holding his head back and sniffing the air outside his team's locker room," reported the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

With what statement did coach Porter follow up his inhalation?

Did he A) paraphrase Col. Kilgore in Apocalypse Now!? "I love the smell of the Meadowlands in the evening. It smells like ... victory!"

Did he B) repeat himself? "It's getting closer."

Did he C) say the locker room at Continental Airlines Arena "Smells like ... Teen Spirit" and start jamming on an air guitar?

Or did he D) frighten the living daylights out of the assembled press corp by doing a sharp imitation of Dr. Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs? "A reporter once tried to question me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti! Fly back to school, little reporter."

Check for the answer at the bottom of this edition of Click and Roll.

THE DEUTSCHE MARKSMAN

Long story short: I started covering the NBA in 1996 for a small, AOL-based site called Real Fans. (A moment of silence please; it is now dearly departed). Back then, I received a story, through a publisher, about a then-unknown Dirk Nowitzki from a 15-year kid from Germany named Johannes Berendt.

Well, after almost eight years of e-mails and IMs, I finally met Johannes in person two weeks ago. Great kid. He speaks English better than I do and he still writes about basketball, including this in the German Sunday paper Welt Am Sonntag: An interview with Dirk Nowitzki where Nowitzki talks about his game and the hardships of the German basketball league.
Welt Am Sonntag

Look for a couple Q&As with Steve Nash and Nowitzki (in English) from Johannes's recent trip to Dallas.

TIP-INS

If it has to do with Isiah-er, I mean, Isiah Thomas, you can bet Pete Vecsey's all over it. Here's a piece on how Isiah and Larry Bird have made nice and another on the one trade Isiah didn't make. Back to you Hann-er. Pete, we kid because we love.
-- New York Post

Is this really an issue?
-- Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Registration required)

MAIL CALL

Three weeks ago, we asked you what you thought of my proposal (not the NBA's) regarding awarding a player three-foul shots if he is fouled behind the three-point line in the last minute of the fourth quarter. Here are some of your responses.

"Three free throws for last minute fourth quarter fouls? Like the ESPN ad, how do you what's on my mind? If both teams make all their shots, the team on top makes two points per possession, the fouling team could make three. How stupid is that? Plus, this will avoid those 15 minute 'Honey, only 30 seconds left in the game,' fights over the remote.
Prakash from Beachwood, Ohio

Click and Roll says: I agree Prakash. Luckily, my wife and I have two TVs in the house and I can go watch "The Simpsons" in the other room while she watches the end of the game.

Anyway, people, it's not three foul shots any time you're fouled in the last minute of the third quarter, it's three foul shots any time you're fouled in the front court (over the eight-second line, and yes, I just added that) and behind the three-point line with less than one minute to play in the game. That was MY (not the NBA's) proposal. On to more letters.

"I think that the rule is a really great idea. It's not right the a team loosing by three with enough time remaining on the clock to score couldn't have a chance to tie with a 3-point shot because of being fouled. The League should take it into consideration."
Pierre from Nova Scotia

Click and Roll says: Pierre is a loyal reader and we'd like to take this opportunity to thank Pierre Ö for agreeing. (Heh!)

"The new rule suggested about three foul shots after one minute when behind the three point line is the best idea I've heard for a long time! These days, the dying seconds of games have become foul, foul, foul, etc. There's no fluidness or chances to make a spectacular play anymore!
From piotrapower

Click and Roll says: Well, piotrapower, the intention was not to make the game shorter, but to give a team trailing by three the chance to tie the game. But if it makes the game shorter, well, that's an added benefit.

"I think that's one of the best ideas I've heard in a while. To at lest allow the offensive team a chance to shoot that game-winning or game-tying 3-pointer with the clock winding down is a great idea and this makes the defense play rather than just foul. this would put the crunch into 'crunch time.'"
D-Mac from Gos, Australia

"Gotta go with Rob on this one. If my boy Stojakovic get fouled with 30 seconds to go, he can simply put the game away."
Ken from Marysville, Calif.

Click and Roll says: Ken, you are wise and sage. I have more "Yes-Men" than the White House.

Uh-oh. Spoke too soon.

"This rule wouldn't work because when a team is up, instead of trying to run around and dribble the time out, many would save their breath and just make sure they did not step inside the three point arc.

"For the team that is down three points with 10 seconds remaining this rule sounds good, but what about the team thatís up two points with ten seconds remaining? This gives teams an easier outlet to win, which takes much of the excitement out of NBA games.

"Not every rule can be absolutely ideal for every situation in the game, but there is no reason to add silly rules that will affect the whole game just to satisfy a situation that is rare in a sense. In your 82 game seasons youíre going to see almost every scenario possible, but you have got to think about just that, what rule will make the game better in an 82 games? Not what rule will make the game better in five or six of them." Ivan from Southfield, Mich.

Click and Roll says: Disagree with me will you? And use logic? Not fair!

"Nice idea, C&R, but it doesn't work, and here's why. Let's say the Mavericks trail the Pacers 97-95 after a Dirk Nowitzki basket with 22 seconds left. Jermaine O'Neal throws a short inbounds pass to Ron Artest, who is quickly fouled since the shot clock is now off. With your rule, Artest shoots three free throws. So your rule actually makes it harder to come from behind in many cases."
Michael in Cleveland

Click and Roll says: No, no. Ball has to be in the frontcourt. And two more that are similar.

"Obviously I like the 3-point rule under one minute from an offensive view. However, the rule is too complex, and creates problems for teams trying to come from behind. For example, say a team is down two points, all the other team has to do is NOT bring the ball inside the 3-point line so the defense is forced to foul for three shots. I also think by leaving things as it is, it will encourage more movement of the ball and better passing since teams would no longer try to avoid being fouled. The rule is too complex and is too boring despite being a possible time saver for fans.
Air Rick (Eric) from Nanaimo, B.C.

"Your rule sounds good, but there is one problem. A team is down, and doesn't want the other team to run the clock down. The leading team with the ball could just stand outside the three point line for 24 seconds, running out the clock."
Andrew in Barnet Vt.

Click and Roll says: That's true, those teams could just stand outside the three-point line in the frontcourt, but that's the benefit of playing with a lead.

And finally, the last letter of the regular season.

"Dear Rob Patterson, "I just wanted to clarify that it wasn't Rick Carlisle who gave the one-dimensional Michael Redd the last shot in the All-Star game, it was a double teamed Tracy McGrady -- who the play was originally designed for -- who gave it up to him."
Sean of Los Angeles

Click and Roll says: Sean, Sean, Sean. Three things. First, it's Peterson. You sound like my prom date: "I'll never forget you, Ron!" "Uh, it's Rob." (Or was that, "I'll never forgive you!" In that case, call me Ron.)

Second, Michael Redd is not "one-dimensional." He can score, yes, but who's fifth among shooting guards in rebounds with 4.9 rpg? Uh-huh. Who's increased his numbers in blocks and steals in each subsequent season? Uh-huh again.

And third, about the final shot of the All-Star Game, well, I'll let Mr. Redd take it from here:

"I got a good look, not a great, great look," Redd said after the West won, 136-132. "(Kevin) Garnett was coming hard and he's so long, I had to get it off quick."

Redd said the East's final play was designed to go to him.

"I was surprised," he said.

Never, ever mess with Google. Or someone who knows how to use it. But thank you for reading.

POP QUIZ ANSWER

Nothing too exciting, folks. Porter repeated himself: "It's getting closer."
-- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

KG has an MVP award and a Midwest Division title in his sights.
(David Sherman
NBAE/Getty Images)

2003-04 ARCHIVE
April 5 -- Fight for First
March 29 -- Prime Time
March 22 -- East Bests West?
March 15 -- Very Scary Bears
March 8 -- Sick and Tired
March 1 -- West Side Story
Feb. 24 -- Surfing the Nets
Feb. 17 -- City of Angles
Feb. 13-15 -- All-Star Blog
Feb. 9 -- Git Up, Git Out
Feb. 2 -- Lobbying for L.A.
Jan. 26 -- Midwest is Best
Jan. 19 -- More Central
Jan. 12 -- Grand Central
Jan. 8 -- Starbury Time
Dec. 29 -- American Rookies
Dec. 22 -- The Greatest Gift
Dec. 15 -- Hail the Kings
Dec. 8 -- Spurs Sportsmen
Dec. 1 -- Holiday Exchange
Nov. 24 -- Hive Talkin'
Nov. 17 -- Clip and Save
Nov. 10 -- Short People

BACKCOURT
The week that was:
April 8: Wolves top Kings
April 10: Nugs No. 8, for now
April 11: Crawford goes for 50
April 11: Kings for a day

FRONTCOURT
The week that will be:
April 12-14: Any game that involves Milwaukee, Miami, New Orleans, Minnesota, San Antonio, Sacramento, L.A. Lakers, Memphis, Dallas, Denver, Utah and Portland has playoff implications, whether it's positioning or making the postseason.
April 17: 2004 NBA Playoffs begin!

THE NUMBER
7 -- Number of years since a below .500 team has made the playoffs. That year, three teams in the ... ahem! ... Western Conference, the 40-42 Timberwolves, the 40-42 Suns and the 36-46 Clippers (10 games under?) made the 1997 playoffs.

This season, the East could have four teams under .500. Two East playoff teams, the Knicks and the Celtics, are guaranteed to be under .500 at the end of the season.

WEEKLY KERR
My boss likes Steve Kerr's Yahoo! column. I like my job. Here's this week's link to Steve's piece on ... how the Magic should trade Tracy McGrady.

No way, say the people in Orlando. They have much trepidation regarding T-Mac.
--Orlando Sentinel
(Registration required)

PLAYOFF ROSTER
Congratulations to the Heat, Hornets, Rockets, Knicks and Celtics for making their way into the playoffs. With three days left in the regular season, one spot, No. 8 in the West, remains.

Date clinched -- Team
March 5 -- Indiana
March 17 -- Sacramento
March 18 -- Detroit
March 21 -- Minnesota
March 23 -- L.A. Lakers
March 25 -- New Jersey
March 26 -- San Antonio
March 28 -- Memphis
March 30 -- Dallas
April 4 -- Milwaukee
April 6 -- Miami
April 6 -- New Orleans
April 7 -- New York
April 8 -- Houston
April 11 -- Boston