HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Awards season is upon us.
Everyone has their own ideas about who should win what, including many FOHT.
TNT’s David Aldridge nailed his picks, including our favorite Coach of the Year pick in Jazz boss Jerry Sloan, hand-selected from of a crowded field of worthy candidates:
“This category may have the most number of deserving candidates. A legit case can be made for [Scott] Skiles, who has piloted the Bucks back to the playoffs; for [Mike] Woodson, who has guided the Hawks to their best record in a dozen years despite inexplicably being left to dangle in a lame duck year; for [Scott] Brooks, who has surrounded [Kevin] Durant with defensive principles and responsibilities, and got a young team to almost never play young; for [Nate] McMillan, who has continued to get maximum effort and production from player after player despite a rasher of injuries to every center walking, and a midseason trade for Marcus Camby; and for [Alvin] Gentry, who has coaxed a 50-win season out of a Suns team no one thought would come close to anything like that.
But the pick here, again, is Sloan. It has been Sloan many times over the years, for he has, incredibly and ridiculously, never been given the award. It is Sloan this year because, dealt an incredibly difficult hand — like coaching Carlos Boozer, who didn’t especially want to be in Utah playing for the Jazz, who didn’t especially want him — did what may be his best job in 22 seasons. He told Boozer, I’ll coach, you play. We’ll have no problems.
They’ve had no problems — not that we’d know about it, anyway, such is the juice that Sloan still has, with general manager Kevin O’Connor solidly behind him, just as Utah’s ownership is solidly behind O’Connor. Sloan-O’Connor-Greg Miller, no space between them. That allows Sloan to coach his team. It allows him to continue to seek a simple truth for his players: compete to the best of your ability. If you win, that’s great. If you lose, that’s acceptable, if the other team is better and you did your best. The Jazz always seem to compete against the game of basketball as much as their opponents. And so Sloan overcomes injuries, and trades, and Andrei Kirilenko figures out a way to play for him again, and the Jazz win 50 again, like that happens every season.”
3-D AND KAMLA, TOO!
The Game Time crew chimed in as well:
NBA.com’s Adena Andrews went yearbook on us with her picks, including this treat:
“Most Team Spirit: Cavs Bench
“I heard you got to go to training camp three weeks early just to learn the handshakes.” That line from the Nike MVPuppets commercial sums it all up. There is no team that has bonded over pregame rituals more than the Cleveland Cavaliers. From saluting the general to the Shogun bows, the Cavs have brought the pregame handshake to a whole new level. Also the enthusiasm they show on the bench during the game is almost just as good as their play. Standing up, holding each other back and giving “The Stink Face” on a dunk, it’s perfect NBA theatre courtesy of the bench.
Worst Case of Senioritis: Boston Celtics
Put three aging veterans on your team and they grab a championship their first year. For the rest of their days they will be sitting on the porch, smelling of Ben Gay telling stories of the days they won it all. Then they will slowly go to the big hardwood court in the sky. The C’s record has been on a steady decline since the championship season. They have also dropped one spot in the East postseason standing since last season. They still have an occasional showing of old-man strength, like last week’s game where Ray Allen put away the Cavaliers with six 3-pointers. But on a whole, the Celtics are past their expiration date and may very well be spoiled after a first-round exit this postseason.
Runner up: San Antonio Spurs
Best Hair: Brandon Jennings
The rook brought back the Gumby and the Bobby Brown fade. Enough said. He is giving kids an education in music and styles that were cool before they were born. When your hair is capable of educating the youth, you earn a spot in the golden barbershop chair. Respectful bow to you Mr. Jennings. Respectful bow.
Runner up: Ron Artest“
AND THE VINNY GOES TO …
And we can’t forget my main man and Hang Time Podcast partner Vince Thomas and his “Vinny” awards, which mirror most everything else you’ll see. Vince did, however, offer up something of a surprising pick for Rookie of the Year (if you consider not picking Tyreke Evans a surprise):
“Nominees: Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee; Tyreke Evans, Sacramento; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Darren Collison, New Orleans; DeJuan Blair, San Antonio
And The Vinny goes to: Stephen Curry
Right before All-Star break, I wrote that Evans was my pick for ROY, although I said he wasn’t the runaway pick. The catch is, Jennings was the dude I had on his heels. Fast forward to mid-March and I had switched up. Curry was my new pick. This is what I wrote: “There’s a slew of talent in the NBA, but not all of the talented guys are red-blooded, “to the core” ball players. Steph’s a ball player. He plays it well. He plays it with style and drama and panache. He plays it better than any other rookie. That’s why he’s my Rookie of the Year.” I’m sticking with this.”
COACH FRATELLO’S MOST IMPROVED, TOO
The old coach, Mike Fratello, breaks down his pick for most improved, and it might be someone you hadn’t thought of:
IN DUE TIME
Here at Hang Time, we realize that as one season closes another one begins. We don’t believe in handing out hardware before it’s time. So we’ll allow everyone else to float these so-called winners your way for now, and believe us, there is more on the way.
But when the regular season is officially done, and only then, we’ll deliver the real goods.