Mark Heisler’s Postseason Award Choices

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Heisler_125Now for the annual post-season awards no one else has, by whatever means necessary.

Kill this page if you’re looking for the Blue Plate Special featured everywhere else with Michael Carter-Williams as Rookie of the Year, Gregg Popovich as best coach, DeMar DeRozan as Most Improved, Joakim Noah as Defensive Player of the Year, etc.

All are deserving… but it’s not as if the other candidates are chopped liver, as it seems these days when everyone compares picks over the internet and— Moooooo! –joins the herd.

All of these categories are close. In all of them, voters can use whatever criteria they choose.

In other words, it’s a meaningless popularity contest. How much good did the second of LeBron James’ back-to-back MVPs in 2010 do him after he flamed out in the postseason while playing hurt, then left Cleveland for Miami?

Heisler to Donald Sterling: Congrats on No Longer Being the Local Wretch!

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letterwriterDonald T. Sterling
Sterling World Plaza
Beverly Hills, Calif. 90210

Dear Donald,

Just thought I’d check in to console you, as I have always done at this point of the season when everything is lost, your coach is shaky and you’re about to lose however many players are on expiring contracts.

Hey, it’s not easy being second fiddle to the Lakers here. If the Lakes eclipse the Dodgers and Angels, too, at least the baseball teams play in summer. You play in the same arena at the same time. No wonder the only people who follow you besides the people in the bargain-compared-to-you-know-who seats are “The Tonight Show” comedy writers.

The most-read stories are the ones that start “Lakers win.” Then come “Should Lakers tank?” and “Should Lakers fire Mike D’Antoni?” and “What’s the chance of Jim Buss selling the team?”

What else is new? Last season you finished 11 games ahead of them, swept the season series, 4-0, and were eclipsed by “Welcome Back, Phil—Oops!” and “Dwight Says He Doesn’t Hate Kobe,” and “Who Needs Dwight?”

Let’s check the standings….

Must be a misprint. They’ve got you at 42-20.

That’s a 56-win pace, the same as last season. This would be the first time you won 50 back-to-back since… ever. Until last season, you had never done it here, in San Diego or Buffalo.

Of course, in Clipper style, you then lost in the first round and fired Coach Vinny Del Negro, whom you loved—although not enough to give him a single-year extension so he wouldn’t be a lame duck.

Pardon me while I check that record online….

Hey, it’s true (or everyone is reprinting the same mistake)!

Not only that, you appear to have become the destination of choice for free agents, replacing you know who!

LAC_GRANGER_DANNYNot that there were a lot of superstars out there, but you got your pick of the players everyone wanted. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett tried to get Glen Davis to Brooklyn but he chose to play for his old coach, Doc Rivers, instead of his old teammates. The Spurs, Rockets and Bulls wanted Danny Granger, who wanted… you?

There’s even a story that says you’re going to pay the luxury tax for the first time, which, of course, I refuse to believe.

I’m going to need to check with an actual source on that….

Holy cow, that’s true, too?

The tax bill will only be about $600K, but it will also cost you the $3 mill or so you got annually as your share of the tax proceeds split by non-paying teams. That’s a grand total of $4.2 million!

I know you want to win, you’ve told me often enough, but you said that back in your skinflint days, when Ron Harper who was making $4 million and compared playing for you to being in jail.

I’m going to have to talk to an actual source, someone who can tell me what’s going on….

Let’s see, do I know anyone who used to work for you?

Oh yeah: Vinny, Harp, Elgin Baylor, Larry Brown, Gene Shue, Don Casey, Dennis Johnson, Paul Silas, Gene Shue, Chris Ford, Jimmy Lynam, Alvin Gentry, Mike Dunleavy, Neil Olshey, Alan Rothenberg, Harley Frankel, Mike Schuler, Bobby Weiss, Bill Fitch, Mack Calvin, Arn Tellem, Carl Scheer, John Hammond, Jeff Weltman, Keith Jones….

DocRiversThis keeps getting more and more incredible. They say you haven’t interfered since Doc arrived as de facto boss of everything—on a $7 million per deal that makes him the NBA’s highest paid coach.

(Actually, they said you were kind of stalling on Doc’s first trade, the three-way deal that sent away Eric Bledsoe and brought J.J. Redick. Doc didn’t threaten to resign, but people close to him reported that he was ready to.)

And everything has been ducky since!

Not that perceptions have changed but Miami insiders say that LeBron James’ preferred choice would be to play under Doc, alongside Chris Paul, the godfather of one of Bron’s sons.

(Of course, it can’t happen. If Bron tells the Heat, “Trade me to the Clippers or I’ll go go to a team like Dallas or Cleveland with cap room,” Heat president Pat Riley will likely challenge him to do just that. I don’t see Bron going somewhere he didn’t plan to for five years to show Riles he wasn’t bluffing.)

Nevertheless, it beats the jailbreak days with everyone crossing the days off their calendar.

Now that you’ve got the fundamentals of ownership down—in only your third decade!–I think it’s time to think about giving something back.

It’s time to extend a hand to those less fortunate owners whose teams have come into bad times, offering them the wisdom you’ve accumulated over the years.

You know, someone who really needs it, like Jim Buss.

Best always,

Mark

Hall of Fame writer Mark Heisler is a founding member and regular contributor to SheridanHoops, the Orange County Register and Forbes.com.  Follow him on Twitter.

MORE FROM MARK HEISLER:

DAVID STERN, THE MJ OF COMMISSIONERS, CALLS IT QUITS
KOBE’S RETURN – NOT QUITE AS IN DAYS OF YORE
LAKERS’ LONG-TERM TARGETS: LOVE, DURANT, KYRIE

Heisler: David Stern, the MJ of NBA commissioners, Calls it an Era

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SternLeavingAs it was in the beginning, so it will be in the end, an NBA without David Stern, amen.

It’s true. There is going to be an NBA without its commissioner of the last 30 years, who’s handing over his axe, er, stepping down in favor of Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver on Feb. 1.

It just won’t seem like the NBA, though.

Not that the league won’t continue on its merry way. The stars will still be stars. The league will continue to fine anyone for any protest stronger than an eye roll.

Without Stern, the NBA would still have its lore (Mikan’s horn rims, Wilt’s tank tops, Russell’s goatee, Red’s cigars, West’s 60-foot shot, Willis limping out). There would have been a revival in the ‘80s with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and a heyday in the ‘90s with Michael Jordan.

Nevertheless, the NBA wouldn’t be close to what it is now.

Heisler: How Shaquille O’Neal Sees Dwight Howard

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The Lakers retired Shaquille O’Neal’s number last night at Staples Center before going out and clobbering the Dallas Mavericks, putting some separation between themselves and one of their pursuers in the Western Conference playoff race.

It is a new era now at the Staples Center, nearly a decade removed from when Shaq was the alpha dog of the Lakers.

Heisler: How can the Lakers turn L.A. right-side-up

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As we all have seen, the basketball universe in Los Angeles is upside down.