Hubbard: Why not award the best offensive player every year?


At the end of the 1952-53 season, the NBA recognized an individual player for the first time when it presented the Rookie of the Year award to Don Meineke of the Fort Wayne Pistons.

Three years later, Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks won the first Most Valuable Player award.

Later, the NBA either created or sanctioned awards honoring the best coach, executive, sixth man, defensive player, most improved player and even the best citizen .

There has been one significant oversight, and perhaps in this lockout-shortened season it would be a good time to add a new award. If you are going to recognize the top overall player and ones who excel at specialties, why not reward the best offensive player in the league with the Offensive Player of the Year award?

Perhaps a case could be made that the lack of such an award was not an oversight. There were times in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s when the league was criticized for wild and crazy shooters, selfish players and ones who cared only about statistics. Perhaps some of the criticism fit, but much of it was ignorant like most generalizations are. Successful teams certainly featured players who played the game the right way.

There are always going to be self-centered players, although they usually don’t last long, particularly in this era when coaching has become so sophisticated. Coaches have become so demanding that if someone isn’t playing the game correctly on offense or defense, he sits.

And the players, even though they enter the league younger than in the past, are enormously talented and athletically gifted. Between the effort demanded by coaches and the athletic skills possessed by players, the game is played as well if not better than it’s ever been played. I liked the good old days as much as any but, please, these guys are at a different, more advanced level.

So if someone plays the best offense of anyone in the league, why not reward him?

Consider last season.

Hubbard: New, pro-Stern, pro-Clipper award projections


With a new era in the NBA that features the league dictating the Clippers are blessed and the Lakers are not, it is obviously time for an advanced way of thinking that requires everyone to not only accept changes, but also embrace them.

I read many predictions before games began on Christmas Day and it was clear that the majority of media has yet to adjust to the new NBA. I will have to admit that I made it only halfway with my projections for MVP, Most Improved Player and league champions. My other guesses – and that’s what most sports predictions by media are – were more conventional and I have felt quite guilty since making them.

I can do better.

Since we are only in Day 2 of the 2011-12 NBA season, it’s not too late to right the ship (ah, the Clipper allusion) and acknowledge greatness where it has only rarely existed, and usually not on the court.

My updated predictions/guesses with a straight-forward approach that I’m sure will be recognized as common sense commentary:

1. Most Valuable Player — Chris Paul, LAC: He was supposed to be a Laker but David Stern made him a Clipper. If this guy is so good that the commissioner dictates him to be in a certain place, well it is pretty obvious he is the most valuable player in the league – at least as it relates to those with short-term contracts.

2. Most Improved Player — DeAndre Jordan, LAC: I keep reading and hearing that this guy is headed for greatness, even with career highs of 7.1 points and 7.2 assists. Perhaps the league office decided all he needed was a great point guard and magically Paul appeared on the scene. Good enough for me.

Heisler Column: Taking LA’s other team seriously—the Lakers, we mean


LOS ANGELES — Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…

I know, it’s the inscription on the Statue of Liberty. They’re also thinking of inscribing it on the statue of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul going up outside Staples Center to welcome Laker fans fleeing the oppression of paying $2,700 to sit courtside for geriatric basketball.

Wait a moment, am I sleeping?

It was all just a dream!

It looked so real! They had an exhibition game and the Clips, with five starters from four different teams, did to the Lakers what the Lakes used to do to them in Clipper “home” games, when Shaquille O’Neal was upset at not getting all the comps he asked for.

Oh, that actually happened?

This is getting crazy… and it will be even crazier if it happens in the regular season, which, of course, hasn’t started yet.

Nevertheless, the ground seems to be quaking here, and not for the usual reasons.

The Lakers aren’t what they were after a decade of domination led to last spring’s fall and this fall’s preseason from hell.

The Clippers are more than they ever were with their surprise acquisition of Chris Paul.

Making it all the more painful for the Lakers, they as much as handed Paul to the Clippers when they pulled out of trade talks with New Orleans to pursue Dwight Howard, who was then yanked off the market.

Nothing like that could ever have happened before, unless some great Clipper—like Griffin, whom Laker fans were already drooling over—left for the Lakers.

This was fate upside down, as if the gods, who had dropped a seven-foot superstar into Laker laps every decade or so (Wilt Chamberlain in 1968, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975, Shaq in 1996, Pau Gasol in 2008), got confused, overflew Lakerdom and dropped CP3 into Clipper Nation!

Of course, the Lakers have seen fire and rain before.

This isn’t close to their worst preseason. That was 2007, when Kobe Bryant called Jerry Buss a liar, demanded to be traded, refused to tell them if he would report, then blew up all over again when Buss said he was open to dealing him, which Kobe took as a betrayal of their agreement not to discuss it publicly.

Hubbard column: Stern gives players a reason to stop smiling


When he visits NBA arenas during the season, David Stern often makes a grand entry into each team’s locker room before the game to mingle with the fellows, perhaps giving them a brief but very inspiring pep talk and showing them the king has his common-man side.

Usually, the commissioner is welcomed with smiles and handshakes and appreciation. When you have a leader who helped the average salary balloon north of $5 million, it’s only proper to be respectful. Plus it’s always a treat to be in the presence of royalty.

I would say the possibility of that warm and fuzzy scene happening this year, however, is about the same as Donald Trump adopting Michael Jordan’s hair style. After a brutal, litigious and often angry labor negotiation, Stern made the second worst move in his 28-year tenure as commissioner when he disallowed the trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers last week, and if you have seen a quote from a player who thought it was an intelligent decision, please forward it to me.

It was a decision of such overpowering absurdity, in fact, that Stern and the league looked foolish trying to defend it.

Chris Paul trade resubmitted to league office


Well, I put the over/under at 5 p.m. EST, and we are still awaiting word on whether the league office will approve an amended version of the three-team trade that would send Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers.

So the over wins.

ESPN was the first to report the re-submission of the deal, and there is no definitive word yet on what additional pieces have been added by the Lakers to give the Hornets more than they were getting in the original trade — Luis Scola, Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and the Knicks’ No. 1 pick in 2012.

From Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of “The Rockets’ part of the trade is exactly the same, with Houston sending Luis ScolaKevin Martin and a 2012 first-round draft pick to New Orleans, while receiving Pau Gasol from the Lakers. … Both Gasol and Odom were present at the Lakers practice facility Saturday, although Gasol was the only one of the two practicing, according to Lakers spokesman John Black. Odom was undergoing his annual physical. Sources close to the talks told earlier Friday that the Hornets, Lakers and Rockets were hopeful of reconfiguring the trade to the point that Stern, after absorbing heavy and widespread criticism for intervening, signs off this time.”

Stein is also reporting that the Mavericks want to use the huge trade exception they received in the Chandler deal to acquire Samuel Dalembert from Sacramento.

Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld tweeted that Lakers Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter would be included in the Paul deal, with Emeka Okafor heading to the Lakers.  (Hmmm, how much more expendable would that make Andrew Bynum?)

In other news (aside from the Knicks acquiring Tyson Chandler and surrendering $3 million in cash in the process, which means Jim Dolan’s wallet is no longer a trade asset until July), the Milwaukee Bucks are going to match the four-year, $19 million offer sheet Luc Richard Mbah a Moute signed with the Denver Nuggets earlier today.

From Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “The Bucks have been consistent in saying they wanted to keep Mbah a Moute, the defensive specialist who was the 37th overall pick in the 2008 draft. Mbah a Moute has been a key part in the Bucks defense since his rookie season, often guarding the elite players in the league. He has defended everyone from Kevin Durant to LeBron James to Chris Bosh to New Orleans point guard Chris Paul. After the first few days of training camp in 2008, Bucks coach Scott Skiles pronounced Mbah a Moute as the team’s best on-ball defender. Mbah a Moute appeared in 79 games, including 52 starts, and averaged 6.7 points and 5.3 rebounds last season. He played in 73 games the previous season and in all 82 games as a rookie.

The Knicks used their amnesty provision on Chauncey Billups to get below the salary cap and facilitate the Chandler deal, but Billups is threatening to retire if he is claimed by a team that he does not want to play for.