Still Some Good on the Hardwood: The 2007 NBA Awards

24 07 2007

by maddness

With gambling scandals, a playoff system that needs to be fixed, and a Conference structure so out of balance, finding “good” in the NBA seems like that old needle in a haystack. It seems today, especially after the Tim Donaghy scandal, when someone brings up the NBA, the first 5 things that come into one’s head are negative. “The Eastern Conference is terrible. The Suns got screwed last year. Take away the restricted area (only true fans may know of this one). Only 3 teams have a real chance. Fix the lottery.” It could go on and on, but if the world puts all that on hold for one second, it will realize that they witnessed some great NBA history unfolding in front of their eyes. The talent fans are blessed with seeing is second to none in the world, and that was never more evident that in the 2006-07 NBA season. So, The Cacophony Cafe thought they would hold an Oscar party, but instead of Woody Allen, Russell Crowe or Halle Berry, we will invite Dwayne Wade, Brandon Roy, and many other roundballers. You may be suprised by some of our winners, but it’s Oscar night and we love the drama. And the Oscar goes to…

The San Antonio Spurs

Sure, their series victory against the Suns is now in question thanks to a certain referee, but the reason we didn’t think twice about the Spurs’ victory over the Suns as it happened was simple; we expect victory from the Spurs. They are such a well oiled machine and are so successful, they absolutely will not beat themselves. Someone better will have to come along, and the Spurs’ dynasty will have to be broken up, they will not fade away on their own. Much like the ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons of the past, the Spurs will have to encounter another Michael Jordan to get knocked out of their champions’ chair (Greg Oden, are you listening?). It’s cliche, but we should respect greatness regardless of how flashy (or not) it is, and the Best Picture award could go to no one else.

Baron Davis, Golden State Warriors

The Most Valuable Player Award is so blurry when people ask, “Truly, what is the MVP?” Is it the best player? Is it the best player on a winning team? Truthfully, the NBA doesn’t need to answer as it can be a combination of the two, or just the gut feeling of the voters that season. But this year, at our Oscars, who stepped up as the Best Actor? Who gave the performance of a lifetime? And while he may not be the most talented “actor” out there, this year the performance in his “movie” was second to none. Baron Davis brought basketball back to the Bay Area last season, leading the Golden State Warriors to their first playoff berth in 13 years, and took it a step further. The upset of Dallas in the first round had the basketball world buzzing so much that the Warriors became the NBA’s highest rated team in terms of viewers. The “Boom Dizzle Beard” became a fashion staple in the Bay Area, leading us to believe Baron and his fans will be back at next year’s award show.

Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks

Much of the time, the man looks like he is sleepy and with such a quiet personality, Johnson probably would not get noticed much on say, media day at the 2007 NBA All Star Game (he was there). That being said, nobody’s game is louder than Joe Johnson’s, as he possesses an inside/outside game and can play three positions. If the Hawks are to return to success, it will start with Johnson. Joe is a supporting actor, because he may not even be the most recognizable player on his own team, but he certainly is the best. This man is 23 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists waiting to happen and we should warm to stars like this. Team USA agrees, as Johnson is the type of player we should be sending to the Olympics; versatile, able and leads by doing, not saying.

Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz

Look at his roster on paper, and beyond Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams and Mehmet Okur, there doesn’t seem to be much. The Derek Fisher situation was tough for everyone, and Andrei Kirilenko’s season was nothing short of a meltdown. Sloan’s bench consisted of blue collar guys like Matt Harpring, Jarron Collins, Dee Brown and Paul Milsap. Did we predict success? Sure, but not the Western Conference Finals. And you get the feeling if the Jazz themselves believed they could’ve beat the Spurs, they would have. Up to that point however, their success is attributed to nothing other than Sloan’s direction and the man should be rewarded somehow each year. The man has the longest tenure with one team of any coach in the four major sports. If Utah is lucky enough to land another big name, look out NBA, as Sloan will only be more prepared next season and one more bullet could do a lot of damage in the West.

The Toronto Raptors

Another feel good story in the NBA took place in Canada last season, where the Raptors boasted their best season since the days of Vinsanity and T-Mac. The squad from Toronto is a complete team, full of guys who play the right way and are fun to watch at the same time. The Raptors may have the best overall collection of international players (yes, Dallas and San Antonion, you heard it) in the league, showcasing exciting youngsters Andrea Bargnani, Jorge Garbajosa, and Jose Calderon, along with newly acquired Carlos Delfino. And Chris Bosh, the team’s leader and superstar needs no introduction, as he has turned into a Top 3 big man in the NBA. The players aren’t the only thing going for the Raptors; it starts from the top. General Manager Bryan Colangelo is building a “Phoenix Suns East” in Toronto, but this team has more youth and room for improvement. It should also be noted that head coach Sam Mitchell was a close runner up to Jerry Sloan for ‘Best Director’. Considering the volitile state of the NBA’s Eastern Conference, the up tempo Raptors may be on the rise faster than we think, but they won’t slow down to convince you.

Daniel “Boobie” Gibson, Cleveland Cavaliers

Perhaps only Cleveland fans knew about this kid before a national audience found out about “Boobie” during the Playoffs. Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall, David Wesley; these guys were supposed to provide LeBron shooting that he could rely on passing out of double teams. After each of the above failed, Gibson more than stepped up during the stretch run, earning himself a clear spot in the future vision of the Cavaliers franchise. The best part about his emergence is that it came during the postseason; he is battle tested and can be trusted in the clutch. Maybe he is not the starting point guard yet, but the man they call “Boobie” draws comparisons to a young Sam Cassell coming off the bench for those great Rockets championship teams. After nailing one clutch three after another, all LeBron James could say of his teammate was, “Shoot it Boobie!”

Lifetime Acheivement Award
Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves

Giving his complete loyalty to the Timberwolves appears to have not been enough from Kevin Garnett. It is seemingly never going to return to that one T’Wolves team with KG, Wally and a Troy Hudson that was playing over his head; the one that was up 2 games on the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. How is it that such an unselfish and talented player is so tough to build around? Kevin Garnett is the prototypical franchise starter, maybe the best. He dominates offensively, defends with the best, rebounds, blocks shots, finds his teammates, plays with passion and is one of the most personable guys in sports. So, what’s the problem? It’s not Garnett, that’s certain. The Timberwolves front office needs to give a long, cool one into the mirror and figure it out. If they trade him (which is the hot rumor right now), what else would they build toward that would be better than a franchise built around a guy like Garnett? It would be interesting to talk with GM Kevin McHale the day after a potential Garnett trade; ask him about the re-building the T’Wolves are doing. Would he not say he wanted his young guys to turn into good offensive and defensive players while maintaining a good image? So, here’s to you, Kevin Garnett. You have given your all to people who don’t know what to do with it. This is one instance where someone is a champion regardless of the presence of a ring on his finger.

Others who did right in 2006-07: Eddie Jordan, Deron Williams, Luol Deng, Matt Barnes, Brandon Roy, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Jason Kidd, David Lee, Derek Fisher.



One response

25 07 2007

Fun post. Hard to find the positives in the NBA these days but you’ve surely put a smile on every basketball fan’s face, especially with the timing of the gambling issue.

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