Life is too short. Last week, my cousins were at the gym working out one minute and calling 911 the next. Kim was in great health: played golf, coached baseball and was a very active guy. So when he began showing the initial signs of a heart attack, his wife Bianca at first thought it might have been the practical joker side of him coming out. Sadly, this was not the case. As I sat listening to all the wonderful tributes to his life at his funeral on Wednesday, I reflected on what might be said about my life. I hope those lists would include my love of basketball. This MVP edition of "NBAz in 7 Dayz" is dedicated to Kim and everyone in my life who makes me feel like an MVP. I am truly grateful for my career, my family and everything in between. Thank-you for all your love and support.
Many broadcast journalists, including yours truly, will appreciate the legacy left by former SuperSonics owner Barry Ackerley. He died early Monday morning after suffering a stroke at the age of 76 years old. During his 18-year ownership of the Sonics, the team made the playoffs 13 times, won four division titles and was in the 1996 NBA Final. Most broadcasters though, will also appreciate he was one of the first sports owners to broadcast games on both radio and television stations he owned and also created the first all-sports talk radio station. He will be missed.
Top 5 MVP Picks - You might be surprised
I love LeBron James and appreciate his style of play, his charity work and his character despite all "The Decision" hoopla. But he does not make my list. I also support the work and leadership of Kobe Bryant and while I appreciate his All-Star MVP status, he makes my list but is not my choice for regular season MVP. The NBA Most Valuable Player Award is an honour given to the most highly revered player during the regular season. Does this mean the most successful? Does the MVP always win a championship? Is this just a popularity contest like some high school Prom King contests? Regardless of it's reputation, here are my top five players who should at least make the discussion (in no particular order):
1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: Let's face it. Kobe Bryant has been a regular season MVP contender for the last 4 or five seasons. Not that having an injury and playing through it should be an automatic criteria, but I think he should have won it last year based on this alone. I think some value needs to be placed on a player's ability to overcome adversity. But based on his team's roller coaster ride this year and losing twice to the three so-called Kings in Miami, I don't think he will make the cut.
2. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls: Although he is not my choice for MVP, he was right up there. Now, I don't believe he is the second coming of MJ himself but he made the Chicago Bulls relevant again. He has gone toe-to-toe this season with the best in the league and has held his own. He has been in the league for 2 years now and is really making a name for himself. He ranks third in field goal attempts, sixth in points per game and is also in the top ten for assists. Not a bad combination - this makes him a well-rounded candidate.
3. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic: I almost did not include him in my top five based on his "foul" issues but I reconsidered. When you look at his stats, he is ranked in the top two in 16 categories, including number one in blocks, free throws and number two in rebounds. He is a tough player you want on your team going into any battle. He and I did the same thing in grade eight - write down a list of goals. Among Dwight's were: lead his team to a state championship and become the first overall selection in the NBA Draft. I wonder if somewhere on that list was NBA MVP.
4. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics: This was a hard one considering the depth of talent on the Celtics' roster and I endeavored to chose only one candidate per team. He is ranked in the top ten in three categories including number two in three-point field goal percentage. He is not dominating stats categories like Howard but Ray Allen is like the chocolate chip to the Celtics' playoff cookie. Without him, the team is just not the same. He is the consummate clutch player and performs well under pressure. Being in the league for 14 years gives you that experience.
5. My MVP Pick - Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: Although I never believed the hype about Miami winning a championship based on assembling Wade, James and Bosh in the same city, I think a team's ability to beat this formation is a part of the measuring stick. The Thunder met the Heat twice this season and split the wins. In the game they won, the Thunder beat them by 11 points (96-85). Team success is another part of the MVP race because if said player is both talented and elevates the play of his teammates, his is MVP worthy in my opinion. Kevin Durant is both. He is an all-around great ambassador to the sport. He ranks number one in the NBA for points per game, averaging 27.9 and is really dedicated to the success of his team. He showed an example of this by coaching his teammate Serge Ibaka in the dunk contest (after his own victorious event got cancelled). At 23 years old and after being in the league for only 3 years, his time is now.
Thanks for joining me this week. I appreciate all your questions, comments and suggestions. Please keep them coming by following me on Facebook (Danielle de Graauw) and Twitter (@ddegraauw). Over the weekend, think about your Rookie of the Year choices and bring those to the table next Thursday. Until then, have a great weekend and see you on Tuesday for more NBA coverage in "NBAz in 7 Dayz".