HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – It was a closer race than you know.
The decision to go with Heat forward LeBron James as our pick for the top spot in the final KIA Race to the MVP Ladder was not an easy one. Thunder forward and three-time scoring champ (and counting) Kevin Durant was a close second, followed by Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, Clippers point guard Chris Paul and Spurs point guard Tony Parker.
All five of the top five finishers had strong cases for the top spot. But James, the most dominant player in the game on both ends of the floor, rose above the crowd on the strength of his versatility and his ability to affect the game in so many different ways.
Unlike our weekly updates, which were fluid and based as much on who was hot that week as well as their overall body of work, this final ranking is a reflection of an entire season worth of work. That’s why you see the likes of Dwight Howard, whose season is done, back in the mix.
We’re confident the media voters charged with picking the Maurice Podoloff Trophy winner (NBA MVP) this season will agree with our (10-deep) ballot, at least on the top three. But we’re not going to let this opportunity slip away without getting your take …
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’d normally send a guy to the Commissioner’s office for being late, but we’re making an exception for Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.
It took him a little while to get rolling, months actually, but now that he’s found his groove, we can’t leave him out of the KIA Race to the MVP mix any longer.
Anthony’s had a huge month, playing at the elite level he’s been accustomed to throughout his career. And now he’s got the playoff bid locked up without having to actually break a sweat, they can thank the Pacers for that one. Had Anthony and the Knicks heated up a little sooner, he might have joined LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant in the top-tier of the KIA Race to the MVP Ladder as opposed to making the Top 10 cut.
But hey, better late than never.
Check out the entire list, and remember, it’s just one man’s opinion and not the official or final tally.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The only mark on Kobe Bryant‘s brilliant basketball career will come when hoops historians scan his list of accomplishments and get to the MVP category and discover that for all the work he did over his nearly two-decades in the NBA, he has just one MVP trophy.
If it seems preposterous to you now that the best player of his generation has only claimed that prize once, just imagine how ridiculous it will seem to NBA observers in say 20 or 30 years.
We’re not comfortable having a hand in a miscarriage of basketball justice of this magnitude. And yet, while Bryant’s been a fixture in the Top 3 of the KIA Race to the MVP Ladder all season long, he’s remained behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant. He’s been unable to push past either one of those youngsters and into the lead position despite leading the league in scoring 16-years deep into his career.
The notion that Bryant will end his storied career as a one and done MVP winner is something that will bother us forever, knowing that he should have won at least three or four …
As for the latest movers and shakers on our weekly hot list, you can check it out for yourself in this latest edition of the KIA Race to the MVP Ladder.
And remember, someone’s rise (Andrew Bynum and Rajon Rondo) always coincides with someone’s fall (Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade).
The Celtics’ All-Star point guard has been on tear since All-Star Weekend, the likes of which LeBron James and Kevin Durant know well. They remain atop the list as we head into the final weeks of the regular season.
But Rondo has made his way back onto the list courtesy of an assist standard that only he and two-time MVP Steve Nash have achieved since the 2004-05 season.
Check it out for yourself in this latest edition of the KIA Race to the MVP Ladder, where someone’s rise always coincides with someone’s fall (smile for the camera Dwight Howard … and yes, we’re with Stan Van Gundy on this one).
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – That shadow boxing routine LeBron James and Dwyane Wade did before Sunday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder might have been more appropriate had James and Kevin Durant done it.
After all, Sunday was the MVP duel we’d all been waiting for. The two names atop the KIA Race to the MVP Ladder (and almost every other unofficial list of candidates) were slated to go head-to-head in a showdown that would also serve as The Finals preview so many people wanted to see.
Well, Durant showed up and showed out — chasing a triple double before finishing with 29 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, two steals and a block — in what, for most of the night, was truly a head-to-head matchup James. The Heat star, on the other hand, continued the struggles that have plagued him the past week and a half. He finished with a pedestrian (by his standards) 17 points, seven assists, four turnovers and three rebounds.
One game does not a MVP make. But if you are trying to find ways to separate the two of them, head-to-head competition is a great place to start. And Durant dominated this matchup.
He did his work on both ends of the floor, making clutch plays on the defensive end and shredding the Heat on the other end with his scoring and his facilitating (Kendrick Perkins owes Durant an expensive dinner after all of those sweet feeds he got last night).
When Heat coach Erik Spoelstra summed up his team’s night this way — “They jumped us and everybody saw it. They kicked our butts, we know it, we’ll own it” — he very well could have been talking about the heavyweight showdown between Durant and James, who is clearly going through one of his toughest stretches of the season right now (17 points, 7.5 assists, 7.3 rebounds, 4 turnovers and 40 percent shooting in his last four games).
James and Durant have been locked in pretty much a two-man race in our MVP Ladder all season, and for good reason. But we’ve made it clear from the start that nothing was guaranteed for either man. The top spot will have to be earned.
Right now, it’s hard for anyone to dispute that Durant has made the strongest case for the top spot right now.
But in the name of fair play, we’ll take this straw poll anyway …
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – No theme music is needed for Tony Parker‘s long overdue move up the KIA Rae to the MVP Ladder this week.
Parker has been the catalyst this season for a Spurs team that ranks as one of the league’s best, despite Manu Ginobili‘s injury issues and Tim Duncan‘s fade into a supporting role.
Parker’s rise (to the sixth spot from No. 10) is the biggest jump of any player on the list this week, but not the most dramatic move. Reigning MVP Derrick Rose fell out of the rankings completely and Kevin Durant slipped past LeBron James for the top spot this week (Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade also made moves up).
Click here for a closer look at this week’s order and share your thoughts (below), as well. And remember, this is a fluid list. You can play your way on or you can play your way off, but nothing is guaranteed.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – At least one piece of this season’s MVP puzzle is over.
Kevin Love‘s unabashed love of the game has landed him the top spot, if there was a power forward only category of the KIA Race to the MVP Ladder. Since that’s not the case, Love will have to settle for being crowned the best power forward in basketball. And we are bestowing that honor upon the Minnesota Timberwolves’ All-Star with plenty of basketball to be played this season.
Love’s body of work to this point is head and shoulders above his peers at the position. He’s doing it night in and night out, going head-to-head against all of the other contenders for the top spot and scoring knockout after knockout.
The only thing left for Love to do is to make sure the Timberwolves secure that playoff bid they’ve been chasing all season. Do that and his rise on the KIA Race to the MVP Ladder will shift into overdrive. He might not catch LeBron James and Kevin Durant at the top, but he’ll have staked his claim to top-five territory.
Click here for a closer look at this week’s order. And remember, this is a fluid list. You can play your way on or you can play your way off, but nothing is guaranteed.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Super Tuesday produced the primary season results everyone was expecting and every candidate claiming victory, in one form or another.
But there were a few surprises as well, none more shocking than Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown lobbying for his star Kobe Bryant to be included in the MVP conversation when he’s been there all season, at least in the KIA Race to the MVP Ladder here at the hideout.
“I think it’s hilarious that he’s not. … Everybody is talking about how he’s 85 years old or whatever they’re saying, and he’s leading the league in scoring.
“He’s efficient. He’s got his team in a good position. I truly believe this team, especially with a guy like that, can be dangerous come playoff time. There’s no doubt in my mind that Kobe Bryant should be mentioned in the MVP talk.
You’re baffled, coach?
How do you think we feel around here? Bryant’s been in our top five all season — he was No. 4 last week. You clearly haven’t been keeping up with our MVP conversation, because you wouldn’t have gone off on this rant if you had.
Yes, the KIA Race to the MVP Ladder contains 10 names every week. But this week, there are only two that we are focusing on. The top two, the two best players in the game right now and the two most unstoppable forces in the league on this day.
Take your pick between LeBron James and Kevin Durant, twin freaks of and forces of nature, as they continue to trample the competition this season. They had matching performances in the All-Star Game and then did it again last night, when they both dropped 38 in impressive road wins that kept their respective team’s, both atop the standings in their respective conferences, win-streaks alive. The Heat’s streak is nine straight, with all nine wins coming via double digits. The Thunder’s mark is seven straight.
Check out the list to see who sits where in the wake of All-Star Weekend — we lost a little Linsanity as momentum shifted towards Wade County.
And remember, this is a fluid list. You can play your way on or you can play your way off, but nothing is guaranteed.