NEW YORK – The San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich is the recipient of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year, the NBA announced today. Popovich’s Spurs posted the league’s best record at 62-20 (.756), which provides them with homecourt advantage throughout the postseason.
NEW YORK - Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, the centerpiece of a defense which held opponents to a league-low 91.8 ppg, is the recipient of the 2013-14 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, the NBA announced today.
Noah becomes the first Bulls player since Michael Jordan in 1987-88 to earn the honor.
Noah received 555 of a possible 1,125 points, including 100 first-place votes, from a panel of 125 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Indiana’s Roy Hibbert (166 points, eight first-place votes) and the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan (121 points, eight first-place votes) finished second and third, respectively. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote received.
I cast my first-place vote for Jordan because of his superior rebounding and blocked shot numbers. I had Noah second on my ballot, and Anthony Davis third.
In a break with tradition, I am casting my NBA awards ballot after the 81st game, not the 82nd. It’s a rarity, but this season I will not hem and haw and sleep on it until the afternoon after the final day of the season. You’re welcome.
I have been an official NBA postseason awards voter for nearly a decade, and it would have been longer if not for a rule at the Associated Press, where I worked from 1987-2005, forbidding beat from voting for postseason awards (It is OK for them to declare the national champion in college football, but it is not OK for them to vote in other sports. Does that make sense?).
It is a privilege that I do not take lightly.
For years, NBA media members – echoing the sentiments of its passionate fan base – wanted more transparency from Commissioner David Stern and his executive staff. Whether it was a lottery drawing, a suspension in the playoffs or a referee scandal, folks felt like they were entitled to an explanation. And they were.
Stern grudgingly came around. He arranged for the media to meet with referees prior to the season about rules changes. He allowed the media into the lottery drawing. He okayed press releases that admitted, Yes, we blew that call.
Since replacing Stern as commissioner less than three months ago, Adam Silver has taken the NBA’s transparency up a notch. He declared that there will be an open dialogue about officiating and is walking the walk by making internal memos available to the media.
But Silver is getting something back, too. At All-Star Weekend this year, the media presented the notion of transparency with regard to how its members vote on postseason awards, and the commissioner bought in.
One of my favorite factoids involving NBA awards goes back to the ’50s and ’60s when the two premier legends in the history of pro basketball were dominating the game.
Wilt Chamberlain was a mythical character – a combination of Paul Bunyan, Jack in the Beanstalk and the Incredible Hulk.
Bill Russell was the ultimate winner — 11 championships in 13 seasons.
Yes, I believe Michael Jordan is the best player ever, but Wilt and Russell were bigger than life and their legend is undoubtedly enhanced by grainy black-and-white photos and prehistoric TV footage of exceeding low definition. Plus so much time has passed. Russell retired 45 years ago; Wilt 41.
Their careers intersected for 10 years from 1959-60 to 1968-69 and during that period, they defined rivalry. Wilt and Russell played a staggering 142 times against each other. You think Magic-Bird was a rivalry? Those two played each other exactly 37 times. There has never been, nor will their ever be, a rivalry as prolific as Chamberlain-Russell. They played an average of more than 14 times a season, and that’s not counting preseason games.