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(Barry Gossage/NBAE Photos)
By Jerry Brown
East Valley Tribune
Apr. 26, 2006
With nearly 60 percent of the ballots counted in early exit polls, it appears Steve Nash is headed for his second straight Most Valuable Player award. In a Tribune survey of 75 of the 127 writers and broadcasters who cast official MVP ballots with the NBA, Nash has a sizable lead over Cleveland’s LeBron James for the award.
Nash received 30 first-place votes, 24 second-place votes and 549 total points in the Tribune survey, giving him a 141-point lead over James — who has 408 points but only garnered 11 first-place votes.
Dirk Nowitzki ranks third in total points (370) and second in first-place votes (12), but the Dallas Morning News, citing several league sources, reported Tuesday that Nowitzki did not win the MVP award. Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, the league’s leading scorer at 35.4 points per game, received 11 first-place votes and ranks fourth in total points (279), but 48 of the 75 writers polled had Bryant listed either fourth (18), fifth (17) or left him off their ballots completely (13).
Chauncey Billups of Detroit placed fifth in the survey with 246 points and 10 first-place votes.
It would be Nash’s second straight MVP award, placing him among NBA royalty — only eight other players have won back-to-back MVPs.
With Amaré Stoudemire injured and an almost completely different cast of characters — one that was picked by many to struggle to reach the playoffs — around him, Nash pushed and prodded the Suns to a 54-win season and befuddled the naysayers again.
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“When you look at what Nash has done with six new players. . . They won their division, and he’s having his best year.
“That alone tells you what he’s done.”
Because of Nash, “All of their players get better looks. The shot clock is never in a bad situation. He makes it happen.”
Playing the second-most minutes in his career (2,796), the 32-year-old Nash set career highs in several categories including scoring (18.8 per game), rebounds (4.2), field goal percentage (.512), free throw percentage (a leagueleading and franchise record .921) and minutes per game (35.4). Nash also led the league in assists for a second straight season (10.5), becoming the first NBA player since Jason Kidd (with the Suns in 1998-99, 1999-2000) to average 10 or more assists in backto-back seasons.
Nash became only the fourth player in NBA history to shoot at least 50 percent from the field, at least 40 percent from 3-point range (.438, sixth in the NBA) and at least 90 percent from the line — joining Larry Bird (twice, 1986-87 and 1987-88), Reggie Miller (1993-94) and Mark Price (1988-89).
For the fifth consecutive season — three years with Dallas (2001-04) and two with Phoenix (2004-06) — a team with Nash at point guard led the NBA in scoring.
COPYRIGHT 2005, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.