Bernucca: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the 2013-14 NBA Season

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espnscrewupThere were 1,230 games during the NBA season, and I read the stories and boxscores for every single one.

That is how I compile Page 2 of my weekly notes column, which features the categories Quote of the Week, Line of the Week, Line of the Weak and the Trillion Watch.

It’s also how I find gems like Mo Williams mysteriously playing for the Philadelphia 76ers.

After my column is published every Monday, I take the winners of those weekly categories and save them in a file to create this column, which summarizes the best and worst the NBA had to offer this season.

I do this because no one else who covers the NBA does it. I hope you enjoy it. 

Sheridan’s Postseason Awards Ballot: Durant is MVP, Thibodeau is Coach of the Year

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voterIn 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.

Schayes: Union’s Search For a New Executive Director, Part II

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dooverThe NBPA announced this week that the current search for the new Executive Director has been canceled, and they will have a “do over.”

After more than a year of secrecy and controversy, the selection committee led by Board President Chris Paul finally realized that the search in its current form had no realistic chance of having a happy ending. The players were in the dark, the agents were near revolt, and the process would taint either of the two finalists so severely that it would make running the organization effectively impossible.

I have been a pretty harsh opponent of the search process.

The Knicks failed to make the playoffs and we could have seen it coming

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knicks_suck“Nobody was expecting this,” Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said of his team missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

“At the beginning of the season, nobody ever thought we’d be in this situation, in this position that we’re in right now,” said star forward Carmelo Anthony, who will not play in the postseason for the first time in his 11 year career. After coming into last year’s postseason as the second seed in the Eastern Conference, the New York Knicks are a lottery team. But to say no one was expecting this outcome would be a lie.

On Oct. 15 of last year, practically six months ago to the day, ESPN’s computer-based, analytics driven computer projection system called SCHOENE predicted that the Knicks would finish the season 37-45. Their current record after 80 games? 35-45 and eliminated from the playoff race.

In explaining why the SCHONE projections had the Knicks faring so poorly, two of the reasons Kevin Pelton gave were the team’s projected 3-point outage and the aging roster. Both proved true to an extent, as you’ll see later in this column.

Six months ago, the team’s response to this prediction was typically and naturally bombastic.

“Sometimes there’s glitches in the computer,’’ Anthony said on Oct. 16. “That’s all I can say.’’

WoodsonWoodson took it even further, asking if the computer model is the one that plays. “It’s a computer system. I don’t think computers run up and down the floor,” Woodson said. “You still have to play the game, guys. I don’t get caught up in that. I don’t have any control over the computers. The only thing I can control is our team and how we play.’’

Half a year later, Woodson and Anthony were singing different tunes about how their season turned so sour.

Chris Bernucca’s Postseason Award Choices

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Image.AdamSilverTransparency is a two-way street.

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. 

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