It has been such an eventful year for Michael Jordan off the court and such a relentlessly efficient one on it that, believe it or not, his accomplishments have been somewhat slighted. There is even one school of thought that says although Jordan has all but clinched his sixth straight scoring title, Scottie Pippen, heading for career highs in average points (21.1 at end of week), rebounds (7.7) and assists (7.0), has been more valuable than Jordan.
One thing is for sure—this years MVP almost has to come from the NBA's runaway best team. And it says here that even though Pippen has been outstanding, the MVB, Most Valuable Bull, is still Jordan. If the sportswriters-voters agree, the MVP Award will be Jordan's third.
Herewith our other end-of-the-year award winners.
The award is not for rebounder of the year, so Dennis Rodman of the Pistons does not get it. It's not for intimidator of the year, so the Knicks' Patrick Ewing doesn't get it. And the award is not for being all over the court all of the time, so the indefatigable Bulls trio of Jordan, Pippen and Horace Grant does not get it.
Our choice is the Spurs' David Robinson, even though thumb surgery has kept him out of the lineup since March 25. His 4.49-per-game average for blocked shots leads the league, and his 2.32 average for steals is fourth best, a formidable statistical achievement for a pivotman. It's now clear that the Admiral is the best defensive center since Bill Russell and possibly on his way to becoming the best ever.
Sixth Man Award
Year in and year out, this is the most bogus award offered by the NBA, not because there's a shortage of excellent nonstarters, but because the best ones strain the definition. Nevertheless, our choice, the Knicks' John Starks, comes closest to filling the role of a true sixth man. For one thing, he has a clear and defined mission when he comes off the bench—to score and take the tempo up a notch, both offensively and defensively. Starks also can drive to the basket, shoot three-pointers and play defense. The Knicks should change his name to Sparks.
Most Improved Player
There are many reasons why an NBA player suddenly has an outstanding season after a couple of mediocre ones, most of them having little to do with personal improvement. Maybe his role in the offense changes, or he's given more minutes, or he suddenly comes to life under a new coach, or he's playing for a new contract, or the tendinitis in his knee has gone away, or he has a new wife who keeps him from running around at night. But ask this question: Which NBA players have far surpassed their performances of past seasons? Bullet center Pervis Ellison, Nugget forward Reggie Williams and Nets guard Drazen Petrovic are our top candidates. But the choice here is Petrovic, who leads the NBA in one category (three-point field goal percentage) and has been instrumental in putting his team into contention for the playoffs.