LBJ, MVP

(Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Will the above letters spell LeBron James, Most Valuable Player?

After 29 games played out of this season’s 72 outings, the answer is a resounding Yes. 

The NBA’s MVP award is one of the sporting world’s most coveted. Given that the league’s 30 teams have a roster of 15 players each, that’s a total of 450 of the best ballplayers among the planet’s 7.7 billion inhabitants. And of that elite group, one will emerge brightest.

This 2021-2022 season, LBJ is the oddsmakers pick to win his 5th MVP crown. Thus far — including yesterday’s 30-point, 13-rebound win — he has averaged 25.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game. He doesn’t lead the NBA with those stats. But the MVP award was never purely about numbers. At times, it’s the intangibles that matter. Why LBJ for MVP?

First, LeBron is 36 years old. This matters. Longevity and consistency matter. Given that he was snubbed for the MVP plum last year (losing to Giannis), he might be the sentimental choice this season.

Second, LeBron leads the NBA with the Real Plus-Minus statistic. He’s No.1 followed by Steph Curry, CJ McCollum, Paul George and Joel Embiid. What’s “Real Plus-Minus (RPM)?” It’s the “+/-” number in the box score and it’s the net change in score (plus or minus) while the player is on the court. To me, this figure is very, very important.

Third reason: LeBron is shooting amazing three-pointers. As of today, he’s shooting 38.1% from beyond the arc. Only his 2012-13 season with Miami, when he averaged 40.6%, was higher. His career average is 34.5%. He does the “Logo Three by LeBron,” shooting near the half court line. His most famous shot was when he unleashed a no-look 3-pointer from the corner, winning a bet against Dennis Schroder.

Fourth, it’s this comment by coach Frank Vogel: “LeBron does it on both sides of the ball. That why he’s probably going to be this year’s MVP, carrying the load offensively and quarterbacking the defense. No. 1 defense in the league and taking these tough assignments and making these plays down the stretch.”

Fifth, the Lakers are en route to another title run. I know, I know, we’re not even halfway through the season. But with Montrezl, Caruso, Kuzma, THT, KCP and Gasol, it’s hard to see anyone stopping the Lakers, even with AD’s recent calf strain injury.

Which brings me to the question: On his 18th year, what motivates King James? 

LeBron wants to play with his son LeBron Raymone. Now 16 years old (and standing 6-foot-2), Bronny will graduate from high school in 2023. This means that the son can do what his dad did, move straight from HS to the NBA. It’s no secret that LeBron wants to play alongside Bronny. This father-and-son combo has never happened in the NBA. The closest was baseball when Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. played MLB in 1990 and 1991.

Reason # 2: Be the GOAT. Michael Jordan is the undisputed Greatest Of All Time. But if LBJ matches MJ’s six NBA crowns and he overtakes Kareem to become the all-time scorer, then I’d pick King James over Air Jordan.

NBA 2021

In America the past week, the average daily number of new COVID-19 cases exceeded 200,000. This is horrifying. It’s also very, very different from what the NBA experienced when the “Disney Bubble” happened months ago.

Last July when the NBA season resumed, 22 of the league’s 30 teams returned to Orlando, Florida. From the bubble’s first regular season game on July 30 until the last day on October 11 when the L.A. Lakers defeated the Miami Heat, not a single person inside the bubble tested COVID-19 positive. 

Incredible. That’s at least 73 days involving hundreds of players, coaches, referees, officials, hotel staff — and not a one COVID-19 case. 

The 2020 NBA Bubble was remarkable for many episodes. The near-stoppage of the season when the Milwaukee Bucks and the other teams protested the shooting of Jacob Blake. The Clippers’ loss to the Nuggets despite the 3-1 lead. LeBron and AD’s bromance that resulted in an “easy” championship win for the Lakers. Add one more statistic — zero coronavirus cases — to the many significant moments in the “Orlando Bubble.” That’s the 2019-2020 season.

Yesterday, the first pre-season games of the 2020-2021 season started. This time, there won’t be a strict bubble. Although spectators are disallowed from watching their favorite teams, the players will fly to various cities and be exposed to the public (hotels, buses, airports).

Will we experience another scenario with zero cases throughout the 72-game regular season (reduced from the usual 82 games)? Absolutely not. It’s a guarantee that several NBA players will get infected during the NBA season that will start on Dec. 22 and end in July.   

What are some of the new protocols with the NBA season?

First, if a player tests positive, he has two choices: be inactive for at least 10 days since the first positive test or onset of symptoms, or he has to get two negative PCR tests (at least 24 hours apart).

Another ruling states, “Any player who tests positive, even if asymptomatic, will not be allowed to exercise for a minimum of 10 days and then must be monitored in individual workouts for an additional two days.”

Teams are allowed a maximum of only 45 people when they travel. There will be an anonymous tip number that anyone can call to report possible violations of the safety protocols.

One policy disallows team personnel from visiting bars, clubs, gyms, spas or pools, or from participating in social gatherings with more than 15 people.

The NBA has anticipated that positive cases will be reported. But they’ve also agreed that the entire season won’t be shut down simply because of one or two cases. This means that the league has to manage these situations as efficiently as possible.

The good news: the Pfizer vaccine has been approved in the U.S. Considering that there are only 510 players in the league (17 players x 30 teams), the NBA officials will request for the players to be administered first. I’m sure we’ll see photos of Steph, Kyrie, Giannis and the other NBA stars getting that vaccine soon.

Published
Categorized as NBA

3-pointer

Although the NBA was founded in June 6, 1946, it wasn’t until October 12, 1979 that the first three-point shot was made. For 33 years, the NBA did not include three-point shots in the rulebook. Even if you lobbed the ball from half-court, it still counted as two points.

It’s been nearly 41 years since Chris Ford of the Boston Celtics was credited with that historic first trey. Today, this shot has never been more important.

Consider this fact: Three-point shooters are outscoring paint scorers in the 2020 playoffs. As of Monday, there were 4,602 points counted from beyond the arc and only 4,512 from the paint. 

Kirk Goldsberry wrote about this recently in an ESPN article, “NBA playoff success has never been so dependent on 3s.”

This trend of increasing points from 3s has been growing every year. Just six years ago during the 2014 post-season, only 27.9% of all the shots taken came from 3s. Here’s the breakdown: 30.2% (2015); 31% (2016); 34.8% (2017); 35.5% (2018); 37.9% (2019).

This 2020 playoff bubble: 43.4%. In simple terms, more than 4 out of every 10 shots taken is a three-pointer — easily the highest percentage in NBA history.

Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are to be credited for this spectacle. The 32-year-old Wardell Stephen Curry II is third in the all-time 3-point field goals made (Curry has 2,495 behind Ray Allen’s 2,973 and Reggier Miller’s 2,560). But it’s his percentage that’s mind-boggling. He converts 43.5% of all 3s that he unleashes. His teammate Klay Alexander Thompson is equally impressive with his 41.9% threes converted.

Donovan Mitchell is another standout. He recently bested the Splash Brothers when he made 33 3-pointers in one playoff series (Utaz Jazz’s loss to the Denver Nugges). That eclipsed the previous record of 32 of Curry in 2016.

James Harden is another culprit. He is not only the league’s leading scorer (34.3 PPG, regular season) but he also made the most step-back 3s this season with 195, besting Luka Doncic and Damian Lillard.

“Harden’s Rockets have been the harbingers of this whole movement. Back in 2016-17, they became the first team in history to ever take more than 40% of their shots from 3-point range,” said Goldsberry. “Everybody is the Rockets now.”

Everybody is throwing 3s. If we look back at OKC’s Game 5 loss to Houston, for example, the Thunder attempted 46 three-pointers — and converted only seven for a dismal 15% clip. That surely contributed to their embarrassing 80-114 loss to the Rockets.

Toronto won yesterday and is still in contention partly because of Fred VanVleet. For the past two playoff years, the 6-foot-1 guard has made 46% (of 3-pointers) each time they win and a measly 26% whenever the Raptors lose. 

In today’s NBA, plenty of games are decided by how well (or poorly) the team shoots from behind that line that measures (from the center of the basket) 23 feet 9 inches.

Published
Categorized as NBA

NBA rebounds

(Photo from ESPN.com)

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is humongous. It spans 220 acres and it’s situated inside the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Our family had the chance to spend New Year’s 2015 inside Disneyworld and the footprint is colossal. The sports grounds include 12 volleyball courts, 10 tennis courts, and a 7,500-seater baseball stadium.

The ESPN Complex is also home to six college-size basketball courts — the venue where NBA players will play the remainder of the season.

July 31 is the target date. Players, coaches and staff will be invited to the facility by mid-July so they can practice. A limited number of family members are expected to join. They, too, are to be subjected to the same rigorous COVID-19 testing protocols.

Of the NBA’s 30 teams, not all are expected to return. Those in the bottom cellar won’t be asked to come back. The Warriors, for example, carry a 15-50 win-loss record. No need for them to return. Only those teams that have the chance to make it to the playoffs will be asked to come back. 

Twenty, maybe 22, teams will return. And while the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) and the Los Angeles Lakers (49-14; leading in the West) are guaranteed playoff spots, there are a number of teams that are still vying for the remaining slots. Sixteen teams will comprise the playoffs. 

All this is not final yet. The NBA’s Board of Governors, who talked last Friday, appear to be excited with the return. They will meet again on June 4 and a three-fourths majority of owners are needed to give the go-signal.

“We are lining up behind (Silver) on this,” an owner confided to ESPN. “The posturing will end. Nothing is going to be perfect for everyone.”

Silver, as you know, is Mr. Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner. He is the man at the center, juggling the demands of players who want to return and the concerns of many who are scared.

There will be a “series of bad options,” Silver says, of the NBA restart. He added that no decision that league makes will be risk-free. 

What if Kawhi gets the virus from a Walt Disney Hotel staff member? Or Giannis gets infected by one of his assistants? Or Kyle Lowry’s family member gets sick? Simbako. But the risks are high. The hundreds of players, referees, arena staff, mediamen and family members will live inside a quarantined bubble. Like a cruise ship, when one gets infected, it easily spreads; the same thing can happen.

The NBA is preparing for this eventuality. Even if one or two or a few get infected, the plan is to isolate these cases and continue. Easier said than implemented.

Money is a huge factor in the equation. Although millions of dollars will be lost because of the absence of fans, the TV deals are still big bucks. The NBA’s national TV package hovers around $2.7 billion per year.

The man most excited for the NBA rebound? LBJ. After watching The Last Dance, the 35-year-old LeBron is in probably his last best chance to wear NBA ring No. 4.

 

Published
Categorized as NBA

No fans

The NBA Playoffs would have started today. Instead, the entire planet is on an extended timeout. The world is frozen. Can the NBA (and other sports) resume? 

Given the state of COVID-19 in the U.S. (over 720,000 infected and 33,000 deaths), there is no way for the games to restart next week or next month. Not with 19,000 fans screaming inside the Staples Center.

The only way to resume the contest?

“Nobody comes to the stadium.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. infectious disease expert, had this response: “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put them (the players) in big hotels, you know, wherever you want to play. Keep them very well surveilled, namely a surveillance, but have them tested, like every week. By a gazillion tests. And make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family. And just let them play the season out. I mean, that’s a really artificial way to do it, but when you think about it, it might be better than nothing.”

LeBron James, when was asked about this possibility, had this reply: “Ain’t playing if I ain’t got the fans in the crowd.” 

But LBJ’s reply was back in March. This was before the world realized the cruelty and venom of the coronavirus.

So the possibility of fans sitting side by side in a packed arena is hallucinatory. It’s not possible. Not even the “checkerboard” arrangement, where fans sit one or two seats apart, is acceptable.

President Trump concurs with the no-fans option, saying, “It’ll be made for television. The good old days, made for television.”

Here’s the viable scenario for the NBA: Choose a couple of key U.S. cities. (I’m sure New York, given its epicenter status, won’t be one of them.) Group together the teams and restart the league with a locked-down hotel and stadium without fans.

The “quarantined bubble,” it’s called. It’s muted, boring, desolate and lifeless — yet possible. But herein lies a problem: Can you fully isolate the hundreds of players and staff of the 30 NBA teams?

Dr. Caroline Buckee of the Harvard School of Public Health is frightened with this approach.

“It sounds like potentially a bad idea,” Dr. Buckee said. “I don’t think it’s realistic to completely isolate and quarantine the players. For a start, there are people who will need to clean their rooms, feed them, wash their clothes, janitorial staff and so forth. And those people will not be protected and they will be interacting with their communities. It is very difficult to truly self-isolate. Purposefully putting people at risk seems foolish.”

What if there’s one COVID-19 case that will infiltrate this bubble? Think of a scenario like a cruise ship.

This is a risky option. But the league doesn’t have a choice.

Published
Categorized as NBA

Warriors still golden

The NBA is composed of 30 teams. After the season tipped-off last October 16, a total of 1,230 regular season games were played in the U.S. and Canada (Toronto). From the original 30, a total of 14 teams were eliminated. Only the top 8 squads per conference qualified to join the playoffs, which began last April 13.

From the 16 teams that entered the NBA Playoffs, we’re down to 8. If this were another sport, it’s called the quarterfinals. What comments can we deduce so far?

One, the Golden State Warriors is Number One. Led by the unstoppable force named Kevin Durant, GSW is, by far, the team poised to collect their 4th NBA ring in five years. There are websites that provide real-time odds and, after their 2-0 lead against the Houston Rockets, the Warriors are now -200 favorites to win the title. (Your $200 bet will win you only $100.)

Durant. Curry. Thompson. Green. Igoudala. How can you bet against this formation? They’re the Avengers and, for everyone else, it’s an end game.

The Houston Rockets, we thought (and many hoped), would topple the Warriors, like they almost did last year. But that’s looking unlikely. Chances are, after extinguishing the team of James Harden and Chris Paul, the next challenge for GSW in the Western Finals will be easy prey.

Denver or Portland? What a scintillating 4OT game yesterday! But either team won’t pose a major Thanos-like problem for Golden State.

The East is more exciting. After stealing Game 1 in Milwaukee, we expected the Boston Celtics to sustain the momentum and overwhelm Giannis Antetokounmpo. Given the erratic wins and losses of the Celtics in the regular season, what we witnessed in the playoffs was the rejuvenated Celtics. They swept the Indiana Pacers and extinguished the Bucks in Game 1 for a 5-game winning streak.

Celtics all the way to the NBA Finals, right? Not so fast. They lost Game 2 and lost again at TD Garden yesterday. It’s back to the same erratic performances for Boston.

My choice in the East? The 76ers. Back in November, my wife Jasmin and I had the chance to watch Philadelphia play the Atlanta Hawks at the Wells Fargo Arena. The experience was electrifying. Joel Embiid, JJ Redick and Ben Simmons were the stars. Then they added Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. Today, they’re much stronger and are leading the Toronto Raptors, 2-1.

My forecast? Warriors-Trail Blazers and Bucks-76ers; Warriors-76ers in the final with California winning again.

The side talk has been on the 2019-2020 season given the list of the upcoming free agents: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kristaps Porzingis, Kemba Walker and Jimmy Butler.

Imagine the scenario of Zion Williamson landing with the Knicks and Durant and Irving joining the rookie in New York? This will vault the lowest-performing team (17-65 this season) into the top spot.

For Lakers fans, how about Kawhi joining LeBron? Or is Kawhi flying to LA but the other LA team: the Clippers? The possibilities are irrestible.

Published
Categorized as NBA

Star Wars

Only LeBron James can call the U.S. president “U Bum” and be considered a hero. Voted by his peers as “The Player You Secretly Wish Was On Your Team,” only LBJ can manufacture a “3 in 1” deal: absorb the shocking loss of Kyrie Irving and emerge with three replacements: Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose and Dwayne Wade.

D-Wade? Yes. It’s no secret that the former Miami Heat teammates are best friends. For four years while together in Florida, they made the trip to the Finals each season and won twice. Can D-Wade’s reported entry into the Cavs elevate this squad to rival Golden State? Absolutely.

What we’re seeing is the beauty and defect of the NBA. The strong become stronger while the weak turn powerless. There’s GSW. Has there ever been a stronger bunch in the league’s 71-year history than the formation of Steph, Klay, Draymon and Kevin? Probably not. I’d rank this gang higher than MJ-Pippen.

The NBA has 30 teams. The idea is to distribute the talent so no one team dominates completely. But we know the world doesn’t operate this way. Some have more money. Others have the clout of a Magic Johnson who can lure a Lonzo Ball.

The NBA has entered the era of the “Super Teams.” Of the 29 U.S. cities plus Toronto competing in the NBA, these “super teams” are a handful of squads whose roster includes at least three superstars. And unless you’ve assembled such All-Stars, you’re doomed.

This 2017-2018 season, the Oklahoma City Thunder has emerged as a super team. Joining the MVP Russell Westbrook is Paul George. And if that one-two punch isn’t potent enough, Carmelo Anthony leaves New York to form their Big 3.

The Houston Rockets is another. James Harden is joined by Chris Paul. How about the New Orleans Pelicans, with DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis? My question is: Why the lopsided strength of the Western Conference? GSW, OKC, Houston, Spurs. And there’s the Minnesota Timberwolves with Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins.

The East? We might as well proclaim the Cavs as East Champs because of their lack of competition. It’s unfair and lopsided, this West vs. East pendulum.

As for LeBron and Wade, their bromance started in Miami and is continuing in Cleveland. But these two aren’t young; LeBron turns 33 in December and Wade celebrates his 36th birthday the month after.

“I would love to have D-Wade a part of this team,” James said of his 12-time All-Star best friend. “I think he brings another championship pedigree, championship DNA. He brings another playmaker to the team who can get guys involved, can make plays and also has a great basketball mind.”

Come October 17 when the NBA’s first regular season game kicks off and, perfectly-scripted, the Cavs face the Celtics, LeBron’s face will be smirking at Kyrie as if to say, I got Isaiah, Derrick and my man D-Wade to replace you, boy!

Fast forward to the 2018 NBA Finals, imagine a line-up featuring Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green and Iguodala against James, Rose, Wade, Thomas and Love. Like the intergalactic movie series, I can’t wait for this real-life Star Wars, Part 4.

Sure NBA champion

Let’s talk business. Regardless of the Final Four outcome (my heart goes for the Cavs as repeat champs but my mind says it’s the Warriors), there’s one sure winner in the NBA.

Founded 53 years ago by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman, the company was originally named “Blue Ribbon Sports” until it was changed to “Nike” in 1971. It is the No. 1 most valuable sports brand on Earth and, last year, it grossed a colossal $32.4 billion. It’s logo — the swoosh, patterned after the wing of Nike, the goddess of victory — is the world’s most iconic, defeating Coca-Cola, Apple and McDonald’s. Chances are, when you look down at your feet or you open your closet or you attend a game of volleyball or football, a pair of shoes designed with a “check mark” is being worn.

With the NBA, the undisputed winner is Nike. Because while Steph Curry wears Under Armour, James Harden dons Adidas, Rajon Rondo and Klay Thompson wear the lesser-known brand Anta (from China), all the other superstars wear Nike.

KD, ‘Bron, Kyrie, Isiah “King of the Fourth” Thomas, Kevin Love, soon-to-be-announced MVP Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Blake Griffin, CP3 (Chris Paul), and Jimmy Butler all wear Nike or Nike/Jordan-branded footwear. Even three names (John Wall, Draymond Green, and J.R. Smith) who don’t have shoe endorsements wear the same Oregon-based brand.

In the Forbes article, “Nike Will Come Out On Top After The NBA Finals, Regardless Of Who Wins” by Daniel Kleinman published last May 17, the winning moves of Nike were explained.

Why, you ask, does Nike pay Durant an incredible $300 million for 10 years? It’s because of all those KD-labeled high-cuts that Nike will be selling in a decade. (Also, because of the fear of losing out to Under Armour, who was ready to $265M.) It’s also about the millions of eyeballs from Beijing to Bacolod to Berlin to Bangkok who’ll be watching the Warriors as Durant shoots a 3-pointer while wearing Nike.

The largest Nike deal of any kind appropriately belongs to LeBron James. In 2015, Nike awarded him with a sponsorship for life, the first time ever that they’ve agreed to such a lifelong deal. The cost: P25 billion. In dollars, that’s $500M that they’re paying LeBron, for him to never wear the Three Stripes or UA.

Expensive? Who says the best player is cheap? As the cliche goes, “You get what you play for.” And look at the dividends — I can imagine the thousands and thousands of $200 LeBron James 14 shoes that will sell this month.

So here’s the conclusion: Warriors or Cavs, Durant or James, the company named after the goodess of victory will claim victory.

Who’s basketball’s most valuable player?

It’s over. Let’s pop the champagne, ignite the loudspeakers, switch on the spotlight and proclaim the winner. It’s Russell Westbrook. He just recorded his 34th triple-double, leads the NBA in scoring with 31.7 PPG, and has sparked the Thunder’s lightning with an impressive 39-29 record (sixth in the West) — all minus Kevin Durant. Impressive? No. We need a better adjective. How about the letters M-V-P?

Let’s discuss that triple-double (which means, to the non-basketball fan, that he reaches double digits in three categories, usually in points, assists and rebounds). The all-time record for one season belongs to Oscar Robertson’s 41, which he achieved in 1962. Fifty-five years later, Westbrook has 34 ‘TDs’ with 14 games left. This means that if he records a triple-double in every other remaining game, he’ll at least tie “The Big O’s” milestone.

Given that his jersey number is “0,” will Russell break that record and be crowned today’s “Big O?” I think he will. I hope so. As each game passes, fans will watch. It’s like Golden State last year when we kept score until they won No. 73. With his latest triple-double, recorded last Thursday against the Raptors, that was his fourth straight. In that game, despite sitting out the 4th quarter, he made 16 assists — more than the entire Raptors squad. How ludicrous is that? And he’s not a hulking LeBron; he’s the same height as the 6’3” James Yap.

“I think he (Westbrook) is very conscious of the achievement,” said Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN. “He’s such an electric player with so much stage presence. And, like, from the moment he struts into the arena, usually in this outrageous outfit, he has this sneer on his face. He’s an athlete that likes to play angry. And you get the sense if he didn’t, it might even compromise his production.”

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

HARDEN. But, wait, because the NBA has 30 teams with 15 per squad for a total of 450 players, who else is vying for the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, named after the league’s first commissioner? There’s Mr. James of the defending champs. Kawhi Leonard, who averaged 16.2 PPG in his career, now averages 26.4 and has spurred the Spurs to battle GSW for No.1. But the best rival for Westbrook?

“James Harden is my MVP choice,” said Dennis Que, a huge basketball fan who’s watched nearly 20 live NBA games, including last year’s playoff game between the Clippers and the Trail Blazers. “He’s averaging close to triple double, leading the league in assists (11.3) and leading his team on top of the West (currently 3rd). He doesn’t have superstars around him like the Cavaliers and Warriors but because of his presence, his teammates are playing well. That’s Harden’s edge over Westbrook.”

A possibility that Dennis foresees? If last year the NBA had it’s first unanimous MVP in Steph Curry, how about its first co-MVPs in Westbrook and Harden?

Published
Categorized as NBA

Russell Westbrook as sub is a snub

After yesterday’s Super Bowl and Lady Gaga show, this weekend it’s the NBA All-Star Game with John Legend in Louisiana. It’s the 66th edition of this star-studded show, when 7-footers fly to dunk, when the defense is absent and nobody wants to foul, when last year, the West defeated the East, 196-173. Can you believe that offensive output? Are we about to see the league’s first-ever score exceeding 200? It’s possible.

This 2017 All-Star Game has been controversial. Let’s talk about Russell Westbrook. Last year and the year before, he was named the All-Star MVP. Thus far this season, the 6-foot-3 OKC Thunder guard has been averaging incredible numbers: 31 PPG, 10.3 APG and 10.4 RPG. Against Memphis last Friday, he recorded his 25th triple-double. If he continues at this pace, he’ll become the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1962 to achieve double-figure in rebounds, assists and points. Consider this: Westbrook is achieving triple-double stats while averaging 31 points per game.

“Such a feat (is) a remarkable achievement.. if not the greatest individual season in NBA history,” said Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports.

So what’s the controversy with Westbrook? It’s this: While he’s en route to possibly winning the year’s MVP trophy — Westbrook was not picked to start for the West in the All-Star Game. He’ll be a reserve, waiting in the bench, clapping for the First 5 to jump ball.

“It is what it is,” Westbrook said. “That’s the nature of the business, the game. I just play. I don’t play for All-Star bids. I play to win championships and every night I compete at a high level, and it’ll work out. I just continue doing what I’m doing and play the game the right way, and everything else will work out.”

Here’s what happened: For the first time, the NBA changed the rules on how the All-Star players get selected. The voting system this season is comprised of the media (25%), the players (25%) and the fans (50%).

In summary, James Harden and Steph Curry were picked and Westbrook was dislodged. Understandably, this issue is debatable; Harden and Curry are top-notch. Still, given Westbrook’s outlandish start, he deserves to be a starter.

“His absence from the starting lineup,” said Nicholas Goss of NESN, “is arguably the worst snub in All-Star game history (in any sport).”

Agree. I’ve never been a Westbrook fan. But how can you deny someone who’s achieved triple-double in 25 of OKC’s 52 games?

Published
Categorized as NBA