April 23, 2004
There are bad MVP voters in basketball too!
Do you ever read something that makes you so angry and frustrated that you just want to do something about it? I do, all the time. Usually it is a baseball-related article, but I came across a horrendous piece on the NBA this week that I just have to share with you.
The column was written by Lacy J. Banks of the Chicago Sun-Times and it is entitled, "It takes more than talent to earn one man's MVP vote."
The whole thing is worth reading, assuming you don't have any sharp objects lying around the house, but here are some of the particularly brilliant parts:
If Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal gets only one first-place vote for NBA most valuable player, it's my vote. Yes, I know I wrote last week that I was joining the consensus in voting for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett. From a statistical standpoint, he qualifies amply for such consideration, and I was all ready to vote for him.
At this point I was thinking, "Okay, I don't agree with this, but it isn't the single most insane position I've ever seen a writer take." I figured it was going to one of those "an MVP goes beyond stats" diatribes that we've seen so many baseball writers make.
Then I read on:
But a fellow NBA reporter recently e-mailed me about how rude Garnett continues to be to the media, never granting pregame interviews and making reporters, pressed by deadlines, wait long after games to talk with him. I then remembered the experiences I and other Chicago writers have had with him, and this is supposed to be one of his homes.
He makes only one trip a year to play in Chicago. But I remember that one time he visited, he was injured and was not going to suit up and play that night. Still, he refused to give me an interview. I reminded him that I was the first NBA writer to interview him before and after he was drafted straight out of high school in 1995, but he still gave me the cold shoulder.
It is at this point that I started to get a very strange feeling about the article. After all, the writer is supposed to be discussing which player he thinks is the MVP of the league, but he is bringing up something that happened off the court, way back in 1995.
I also like the fact that Banks is essentially saying "I told Garnett I knew him way back when and he still wouldn't help me out," which is, I'm sure, something Garnett has heard about a million times by now from various people who want something from him.
I always have had a policy of voting for the human qualities of an MVP candidate, as well as his basketball talent. I look at each candidate's character, professionalism and willingness to promote the product of which he is a part and which has made him quite wealthy.
All of a sudden, Garnett was no longer my choice for MVP. I then turned to O'Neal, who always has been courteous to me and has granted me interviews before and after games. Besides, O'Neal is the primary reason the Pacers finished with the best record in the league during the regular season and have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
I stopped here and banged my head against the wall for a little while. This is almost unfathomable to me.
I know this sounds crazy, but how about basing your vote for MVP on the guy you think was the most valuable player in the league that season?
This guy is basing his MVP vote on who is nicer to him, who is more willing to give him quotes before and after games? I checked to see if what I was reading was an actual newspaper column and not, say, something from The Onion.
Banks concludes the piece by saying:
I only wish the balloting was so close that it came down to one vote. My vote. Then I'd feel even better about the message I'm trying to send.
And that message is: It's so nice to be nice.
In other words, Banks wishes he could cost Garnett the MVP, an award he admits Garnett deserves, because he doesn't like the way Garnett treats him and another writer in Chicago.
Does this strike anyone else as absolutely ridiculous? Perhaps it is my love of Garnett clouding my thoughts on this, or the fact that I am currently a journalism student, but I find Banks' position on this "issue" to be downright disgusting and deplorable.
The award is for the MOST VALUABLE PLAYER, not the GUY WHO IS NICEST TO THE MEDIA or the GUY WHO GIVES THE MOST QUOTES. Not to mention the fact that Banks is inserting himself into the story, which is something my journalism professors seem to be just slightly against.
A side issue here is the fact that Banks is the very first writer I've ever read who talks about Garnett being negative with the media. Every other thing I've seen on the subject talks about Garnett as a witty, friendly interview. In fact, Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated recently wrote about how Garnett was overly courteous with him following a very tough loss, after which Garnett stayed late to talk to him at great length.
I even found out that Garnett has been named to the NBA's "All-Interview Team" multiple times. In 2000-2001 and 2001-2002, Garnett made the first team and in 1999-2000 and 2002-2003, he made the second team.
Do you think it's possible that maybe, just maybe, Garnett not talking to Lacy J. Banks and the mystery e-mailer has something to do with them? Nah, couldn't be. After all, what could Garnett possibly have against someone who is so logical in their decision-making?
Exactly how ridiculous is Lacy J. Banks on this? So bad that I didn't bring up the fact that his "MVP" is a 6'11" guy who shot 43% from the floor this season.
San Diego (Eaton) -125 over Arizona (Daigle)
Detroit (Bonderman) -110 over Cleveland (Davis)
Total to date: $315
W/L record: 21-23 (1-3 yesterday for -200.)
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