Work in Sports
Kobe will be All-Star MVP
Posted: Friday February 11, 2000 12:44 PM
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Quick prediction before we dip into the 'bag: Kobe Bryant will be the All-Star Game MVP. Why? Because the West has the better team, and the MVP is likely to come from the team that wins. Because Bryant has the kind of exciting, open-court game that's perfect for this kind of contest, where defense is taboo. And because he's got no conscience on court and won't hesitate to look for his shot. If I'm wrong, of course, I'll deny I ever said it.
How on earth can Shareef Abdur-Rahim possibly be overlooked for the All-Star Game again? It's absurd that somebody with his talent and his numbers can be omitted. I think the reserves should be voted on by the players, because whoever is doing it right now needs his or her head examined.
I agree that it's a shame that Abdur-Rahim isn't on the team, but I can't say that any of the forwards on the West team are undeserving. It's too bad that since Karl Malone really doesn't want to play in the game, they can't excuse him and replace him with Shareef (or Clifford Robinson, who's also having a great year). But that would set a precedent that the league doesn't want. The next thing you know, guys would be dropping out of the game like it was the slam-dunk contest or something. The coaches do the voting, and they do let their biases show. For instance, David Robinson and John Stockton made the West team more because of their seniority and the way they have conducted themselves throughout their careers than because of the way they played in the first half. But if the players voted, their biases would show, too. There's no perfect way to pick an All-Star team, and some deserving player is always going to get shafted. That's just the way it is.
What's your take on all the undeserving veterans (i.e. Reggie Miller, David Robinson and Dale Davis) making the All-Star team over players such as Sam Cassell, Cliff Robinson and P.J. Brown, who are all clearly having better years?
I think it's too bad that deserving younger players get left off in favor of veterans who aren't having their best years. When guys like Robinson and Stockton get selected, they should have the option of respectfully declining. That would let in guys like Cassell and Clifford Robinson, who would really appreciate the honor. Who knows when guys like that will be in a position to make the team again? With all due respect to some of the older guys, we've seen them in lots of All-Star Games and we don't need to see them again. That's why I never pay much attention when they say that some player is a 10- or 11-time All-Star, because once you've made the team three or four times, you tend to keep making it on name recognition alone.
Do you think that Kevin Garnett has any realistic chance of winning the MVP award? No one is playing better basketball or is more valuable to his team.
Right now Shaq is George W. Bush and Garnett and Chris Webber are a pair of John McCains -- scrappy challengers who are closing the gap. If the Lakers get beaten out for best record after their amazing start, some voters may get off Shaq's bandwagon, which would make it a wide open race. So Garnett has a legitimate shot, but the award is O'Neal's to lose.
With all the talk of the Lakers needing help defensively and on the boards, has there been any talk with Detroit about Jerome Williams? He's a big body who hits the glass with Rodman-like intensity. Plus, Williams wouldn't take shots away from Kobe or Shaq. Glen Rice for Williams seems to give the Lakers what they need while creating a lot of salary cap room, allowing them to pursue free agents at the end of the year. What do you think?
Not much chance of that one happening. The Lakers can't create cap room by trading Rice for a guy who makes a lot less money. The salaries of the players involved in any trade have to be within 15% of one another. In this case, Rice's and Williams' salaries aren't close -- Rice makes about $5 million more -- so the Pistons would have to include more players in the deal to make it work under the cap. There's no reason for them to put together that kind of package to get a guy like Rice, who can be a free agent at the end of the season. It's true that Williams would be great for the Lakers, but the Pistons love him, too. They're not going to deal him for a guy they have no guarantee of re-signing.
Whatever happened to Richard Dumas, who played for the Suns early on in the '90's?
Last I heard, I believe Dumas was doing well in his battles against substance abuse problems and playing in the USBL for a team in Florida. If any of you letter writers know more about Dumas' whereabouts, send the info into the mailbag. But let's put it this way: you won't be seeing him back in the NBA anytime soon.
Don't you think Kareem Abdul-Jabbar should be given a chance to coach a pro team? If the NBA can let people like Scott Skiles become a head coach, I think the league owes Kareem a chance, considering all he has done for basketball. What team would not benefit from the knowledge he brings to anyone playing the center position?
I think Kareem would be a much better assistant than a head coach. He'd be great at tutoring big men, but I don't see him as a great motivator or the type of guy who would watch tape for hours. Kareem's a man of varied interests, and I don't know if he would have the kind of tunnel vision that a head coach needs. In other words, he might be too intelligent to be a head coach. That's part of the reason he's never been seriously considered for an NBA head job, even though he's made it clear he'd like to be. Also, Kareem wasn't always the easiest guy to get along with. He was somewhat aloof until the last few years of his career, and I think the powers-that-be remember that when they consider his résumé.
What is the story with Kings forward Corliss Williamson? Sent home on the long trip, playing time is way down, free agent at the end of this year, coach can't get him involved in the game ... need I say more? Is there a trade in the near future? Does anyone want him? Can anyone use him? The guy can score but they don't run plays for him. What gives?
Williamson is kind of the forgotten man for the Kings. With Chris Webber and Vlade Divac sharing the space in the low post, there aren't that many opportunities for Williamson to take other small forwards down low and use his bulk against them. The truth is that a shooter like Predrag Stojakovic is a better fit alongside Webber and Divac, which is why he's been getting a lot of minutes. I think you'll see Williamson leave when his contract expires at the end of this season. Indiana nearly signed him last year, and I expect the Pacers, who could have a lot of turnover after the season with Miller, Rik Smits, Mark Jackson and Jalen Rose all free agents, will be very interested again.
I love the talent base that surrounds Kevin Garnett on the T-Wolves. I think that they've played awesome team basketball in the last two months. But I still think that they need another big, physical player to make a serious run this year or next. I heard rumblings about Michael Stewart from Toronto; does that thought have any merit? Are there any other names being considered?
Stewart's name has been thrown around, but he's someone the Wolves would settle for if they couldn't find a big man with more bulk. They've looked hard at Matt Geiger but the guys they have to offer -- such as Anthony Peeler, Malik Sealy and Bobby Jackson - don't get the Sixers excited. The Wolves may get a body, but don't expect it to be anyone who's going to dramatically change their status in the West.
I know it's early, but do you have any idea how Vince Carter feels about signing for the max with Toronto? A lot of guys don't seem to want to play here, and I'm wondering if Vince would rather be closer to home.
Everything I hear is that Vince is very happy in Toronto, but I'll ask him face to face during All-Star weekend and get back to you. He has a great relationship with Butch Carter, and the team is getting better. But he's also interested in the limelight enough to have hired an outside publicity firm to get him more endorsements, so playing in a U.S., where he would get more media attention, probably appeals to him. Bottom line: the right offer could probably make him think twice, but I'd put the chances at about 75% that Carter will re-sign with the Raptors.
During his high-school years, Felipe Lopez was considered by many sportswriters as one of the best players in the U.S. Back then, some columnist even suggested Lopez could be a first-round pick had he made the jump from high school to the NBA. He was supposed to be a star. To this date in his second year, Lopez is averaging very few minutes per game, even fewer than in his rookie year. What do you think happened to him ? Do you think he can recover and become an everyday player for the Grizzlies -- or any other team?
Lopez is just an example of how there's no such thing as a can't-miss player. He just seemed to stop improving after high school. He never developed a consistent jumper and other players surpassed him in terms of quickness and ball-handling. You can never predict when a player is going to hit his plateau, and Lopez hit his earlier than anyone expected. I get the feeling that Lopez has climbed about as far as he 's going to go. Whatever time he has left in the league is going to be spent mostly on someone's bench.
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