Monday , Mar , 28 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Trash Talk: Volume XIV

Hi, all. We start off with the big question at this time of year: Who’s your M.V.P.? Raising this issue among any group of people, even friends, is like throwing a steak into a shark tank. It’s understandably difficult to remain neutral on a matter as contentious as this, and for that reason you’re likely to see as many heated debates concerning this topic as any. In my hours of talking this over with fans of various levels of knowledge – from the serious hoopheads to those less informed – I’ve heard twelve names mentioned. Here’s that dozen, in no particular order:

<b>NBA Trash Talk</b>: <I>Volume XIV</I>“/><I><BR>-Shaquille O’Neal<BR>-Allen Iverson<BR>-Steve Nash<BR>-LeBron James<BR>-Dwyane Wade<BR>-Paul Pierce<BR>-Kobe Bryant<BR>-Dirk Nowitzki<BR>-Ray Allen<BR>-Tracy McGrady<BR>-Tim Duncan<BR>-Kevin Garnett</I><BR><BR>So, who’s not worthy to be considered for the award? The way I see it, you can eliminate nine of those players right away, for various reasons. <BR><BR><I>Allen Iverson</I>: The Sixers simply haven’t won enough games for the little guy to take the trophy home again. <BR><BR><I>LeBron James</I>: The voters know that the young fella has shelves in his house just waiting to be filled with awards. As such, they’ll probably overlook him this year, although it’s only a matter of time before his RoY trophy has company on the mantelpiece. <BR><BR><I>Dwyane Wade</I>: He wears the same uniform as the most dominant player in league history, who is currently shooting a fraction under sixty percent from the field. That alone is enough to dissuade the voters from ticking his box. <BR><BR><I>Paul Pierce</I>: I don’t think even the die-hards in Boston are expecting P-Squared to take the award, particularly given his numbers this season, which are noticeably down from those of last year and the year before. <BR><BR><I>Kobe Bryant</I>: Kobe is another player who is out of the running simply due to his team’s win-loss record. <BR><BR><I>Dirk Nowitzki</I>: Twenty-six and ten on a team that has won two-thirds of its games would normally put you at the head of the pack, but when your defence is weaker than an average homework excuse, you can’t complain when you go home empty-handed. <BR><BR><I>Ray Allen</I>: The Sonics have improved and Ray is a big part of it, but four boards and four assists a night aren’t enough for an M.V.P. <BR><BR><I>Tracy McGrady</I>: Tracy’s line of twenty-five, six and six would seem to put him right up there, but playing alongside Yao is enough to knock him out of serious consideration. I’d expect him to be in the running come ballot time, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he has no real chance of winning. <BR><BR><I>Kevin Garnett</I>: Minnesota’s horrible performance all year long has put last season’s winner right out of the game. Sammy and Spree have played like spoilt children this season, and the franchise has taken a dive as a result, with Flip Saunders being the major casualty. A secondary effect is that the Big Ticket will have to make do with his one award for the time being. <BR><BR>That means that we’re left with three contenders: Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Nash and Tim Duncan. Next week I’ll be following this up with an in-depth breakdown of the big three and, assuming I don’t change my mind (again), my thoughts on who should take it this year. Use the comment box at the bottom of the page or email me (8charles@gmail.com) with your thoughts, and I’ll tackle the whole lot in the next edition of <I>Trash Talk</I>.<BR><BR>We now move from players to player-haters. You all know a player-hater. You might know a few. You might have one in your family. You might even be a hater yourself. Peruse any basketball forum or cock an ear at a sporting venue, and it won’t be long before you come across one of this growing species. While it’s fun to find an equal opportunities hater (they hate everyone), what’s even more entertaining is a fan with a grudge against one or two players in particular. Of late, it has become apparent that the hatred of this mass has become concentrated on a few individuals. <BR><BR>Over the next seven days, I’ll be polling the people in an attempt to compile the world’s first NBA All-Hated team. What I need now is for you all to take a couple of sips of Haterade and then select five players you despise: two guards, two forwards and a centre. Send in your thoughts using the comment box at the bottom of the page or by emailing me at 8charles@gmail.com. If you know why it is that you harbour resentment towards those particular individuals, feel free to give reasons, but more often than not you’ll find yourself picking guys you have no reason to loathe. However, you still do, and that’s okay. Any shrink will tell you that bottling it up is a bad idea, so this is your chance to vent. Check out <I>Trash Talk</I> next week for the results of my less-than-scientific research. <BR><BR>Anyway, considering that we’re in the midst of March Madness, I’m sure I’ve kept you all long enough. If you have a spare moment between college fixtures, try to catch up on the playoff battle in the NBA. <BR><BR>Take it easy now, <BR><BR>Chuck. <BR><BR></p>