YOU SPOKE, WE LISTENED
So, we'll start this one with your responses. Considering that Shaquille O'Neal, the most dominant player is back, this is a perfect time to show you the results of your comments. A couple editions back, we asked you your thoughts on the best player in the NBA.
And you responded and responded. (And you waited for me to tally the votes. I'm only one man!)
Well, you've been heard and counted. We received a total of 420 e-mails on the subject. That's amazing. This was not a simple poll where you clicked and rolled away. No, you took the time to write and explain (many of you) yourselves. Amazing. And for that, I tip my hat, and present the results, which are more accurate than a Florida election.
So, without further ado, the envelope please. And the best player in the NBA award goes to:
Orlando's Tracy McGrady with 182 votes (42.7 percent). The Lakers' estimable Kobe Bryant garnered 91 votes (21.5 percent), good for second place. The Sixers' Allen Iverson earned 31.5 votes, Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki had 24 votes and Jason Kidd was popular enough to get 19 votes.
The rest are as follows: Gary Patyon (13), Steve Francis (10), Michael Jordan (9), Kevin Garnett (8) Shaquille O'Neal (7), Paul Pierce (6), Tim Duncan (5), Vince Carter (3), Chris Webber (2.5), Ray Allen (2), Grant Hill, Steve Nash, Darius Miles, Drew Gooden, Alvin Williams, Antoine Walker, Larry Hughes and two "enough said" e-mails (which I didn't delete and also made me smile), one for Chris Dudley and one for Vin Baker.
As for our question as to whether the Lakers can still gain homecourt advantage for at least the first round, we didn't get quite as many, but we still received some good responses.
Deryl of Rochester, N.Y. said: I think that if Shaq comes back and plays the rest of the games, the Lakers will have homecourt advantage for at least the first round. If for some reason they don't get homecourt advantage, it won't matter because they're so experienced that they can beat anyone on the road. However, I think Sacramento has enough to beat them this year.
Johnny of Orange County, Calif. said: Of course the Lakers can still break into the top seeds of the Western playoffs. It's too early in the season to be questioning to Lakers and how they're struggling. Just wait until Shaq gets back in the lineup and then the Lakers will be fine. I don't think the Lakers would care if they had home court advantage. It would be nice but the Lakers know when to step it up. Also it'll be their experience and talent that will take them to their fourth consecutive championship. Go Lakers!!!!
Bernard of Quezoncity, Philippines said: It really doesn't matter if the Lakers are on the top or bottom as long as Shaq will be healthy at the end of the season, there will be no problem for Lakers in defending their crown. Go Lakers!
Rigo of Wichita, Kan. said: I think that this season is for the Dallas Mavericks. They have a 13-0 record and I believe that there streak isn't going to end for a while. As for the Lakers, I think they are going to end up at least in the fifth position of the Western Conference.
Mike of Russell County, Ky. said: Are you crazy? What? I mean with a healthy Shaq and Kobe, you can take me and my two buddies down at the bowlin' alley and we will win the championship. No team can win the Lakers roll.
Jeremy of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan said: I'd say a 50-win season is still possible for the Lakers, but not a whole lot better than that. Once Shaq comes back they will start winning more games, but not long winning streaks like in the past. Reason: Kobe has messed with team chemistry by taking so many shots in the early going, and the Lakers will find it difficult to find their old chemistry. Also Shaq is sure to show some rust from his extended hiatus from the court.
Once in the playoffs, all bets are off. The Lakers could obviously win another championship, but I personally see them being eliminated by Sacremento or Dallas. Nothing lasts forever...
Except for this column. We've gone on long enough. We will have no questions for this week because we're eating turkey and thankful for this gig and all the fans who read NBA.com's Click and Roll, we will leave you with some leftoevers. Feast on them below.
Could Dirk Nowitzki's Achilles' tendon be Dallas', um, Achilles' heel? (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
There's historical precedence to the Mavs' sizzling start, and most of it is good. (Boston Globe)
Boy, they just hate staying up late in Minnesota. Bars close at 1 a.m. in the Twin Cities and they don't want to stay up past midnight because the Timberwolves are in the West. Here's another realignment plan from Minneapolis and this one eliminates the conferences. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett is thinking of spending the summer of 2004 in Greece (St. Paul Pioneer Press)
You want to be a back to the basket big man? Well then the NBA isn't for you. If you're tall, better learn how to ball away from the bucket. (Seattle Times)
When Chris Childs returns to the Nets, he'll be less of a man, but more of a ball player. (New York Times)
Grant Hill's ankle has been killing him. Now, Tracy McGrady's back is acting up. Having suffered back spasms myself, I have one word of advice: stretch. (Florida Today)
After losing to the previously winless Grizzlies on Saturday, the Wizards are doing some head-scratching and soul-searching. (Washington Post)
The Pacers' Isiah Thomas is being mentioned as an IBM NBA Coach of the Year candidate, and surprising it's not Pete Vecsey, yet. (Chicago Tribune)
Rookies named Smush constantly need to prove themselves. (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)
Rob Peterson, NBA.com