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.
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.
My ballot will be e-mailed to NBA headquarters late at night one week from today, and I will then publish all of my picks for postseason awards — as is my standard practice.
But not every one of the 126 voters makes his/her selections public. At least that is the way it has been in the past.
But this year, transparency rules. The Pro Basketball Writers Association and the NBA media relations office have come to an agreement under which all of the voters’ picks in every single category will be made public. Too bad this didn’t happen a year ago, when we would have learned who had the gumption to vote for Jordan Crawford as Sixth Man of the Year. (The NBA even checked with the voter to see if he meant to select Jamal Crawford, and the voter responded ‘no.’ He actually felt the lesser Crawford was deserving).
Life can be tricky. Sometimes, you are judged by your successes. Other times, you are judged by your failures.
Which brings us to the San Antonio Spurs, who are sitting at 60 victories with a little over a week left in the 2013-14 regular season, practically assured of having homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.
But when you play word association with the Spurs, what comes to mind first: Their 19-game winning streak that ended last week, or their 0-4 record this season vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder?
And if you look at them through an even broader prism, what exactly defines them?