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Nash Won the Award For His Game, Not Race

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Video: Steve Nash presented with NBA MVP.
Nash Won the Award For
His Game, Not Race

By Scott Bordow
East Valley Tribune
May 9, 2005

Before we get to the Suns-Mavericks playoff series, a word about Dan Le Batard’s column in Sunday’s Miami Herald.

Le Batard wondered if Steve Nash won the Most Valuable Player award because of the color of his skin rather than the quality of his game.

Here’s what Le Batard wrote: "No one who looks or plays like Steve Nash has ever been basketball’s MVP. Ever. In the history of the award, a tiny, one-dimensional point guard who plays no defense and averages fewer than 16 points a game never has won it.

"But Nash just stole Shaquille O’Neal’s trophy, even though O’Neal had much better numbers than Nash in just about every individual statistical measurement except assists, so it begs the question:

"Is this as black and white as the box scores that usually decide these things?"

Oh, please.

First of all, Nash was named MVP because the Suns won 33 more games than they did last year and finished with the best record in the NBA.

As for Nash being "onedimensional," a point guard is measured not by his statistics but whether he makes his teammates better. Amaré Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and Joe Johnson all had career years in part because Nash made the game easier for them.

Finally, Dan, to suggest racism is at play is not only ignorant but dangerous.

Racism is a persistent and ugly problem in our society, but you undermine the efforts of those who are battling real racism when you use the term so cavalierly.

You think O’Neal should have won the award? Fine, then state your case.

But don’t be the boy who cried wolf.

Now back to our regularly scheduled column.

Suns coach Mike D’Antoni was talking to the media Sunday when forward Bo Outlaw gave him a cake for his 54th birthday.

"You’ve got to make a wish," Stoudemire said.

"You think I don’t know what it is?" D’Antoni replied with a smile.

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Yes, beating the Mavericks and advancing to the Western Conference finals would be a fine birthday gift, but the Suns already have had one wish granted.

They’re playing the Mavericks, not the Houston Rockets.

I know. In their private moments last week, several of the Suns said they’d rather play Houston because Dallas is deeper and has more scorers.

That wisdom played out in Game 7 of the Mavericks-Rockets series — Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming were the only two Houston players in double figures — but Dallas’ style plays right into Phoenix’s hands.

The Mavericks like to run, they often play an undersized lineup, and, while their defense is better than it has been in past years, it’s still down a ways on their to-do list.

Sound like a team you know?

"Their style of play is very similar to ours," Marion said.

But trying to outscore Phoenix is like spotting Carl Lewis a 10-yard lead in the 100-yard dash.

"We don’t think it can happen," D’Antoni said.

The matchups also favor the Suns. Marion did a terrific job on Dirk Nowitzki in the teams’ three regular season meetings, limiting him to 20.7 points per game (nearly six points below his average) on 38 percent shooting.

The Mavericks, on the other hand, don’t have an answer for Stoudemire, who overpowered them with 32.7 points and 11 rebounds per game.

"What are you going to do to stop me?" Stoudemire said.

Is it just me, or does Stoudemire sound more and more like Charles Barkley every day?

The Suns aren’t going to roll over the Mavericks like they did the Memphis Grizzlies. Dallas won 58 games in the regular season and beat Phoenix at America West Arena in February.

But whatever the Mavericks do, the Suns can do better.

Phoenix in seven.

COPYRIGHT 2005, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.