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.

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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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?

Rookie Rankings, Week 23: MCW is the ROY

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Philadelphia 76ers SixersFrom his first NBA game, Michael Carter-Williams took hold of the Rookie of the Year award.

He immediately grabbed the undivided attention of all of us, going for 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds in Philadelphia’s improbable season-opening win over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.

Before the 76ers started losing – losing frequently, losing historically – Carter-Williams directed his team to two more wins and was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. Not Rookie of the Week. Player of the Week. In his first week in the NBA.

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Marks: Finally Victorious, Sixers Happy to Only Own a Piece of Rock Bottom

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Bj8Yi39IgAA3cNTPHILADELPHIA— Jimmy Fallon, sportscasters throughout the country and op-ed columnists can stop making them the butt of jokes and wisecracks now.

The Philadelphia 76ers will only share a piece of the record book, rather than having it all to themselves.

By scoring 70 first-half points on their way to a 123-98 blowout of the totally disinterested Detroit Pistons here last night, the Sixers avoided the ignominy of owning professional sports’ all-time losing streak. Never will a team be so willing and grateful to only own a piece of rock bottom: 26 games … but finally no longer counting.

At 9:48 P.M. civic pride was officially restored to a town still reeling from the Eagles stunning decision to jettison star receiver DeSean Jackson. While the P.A. system blared that old favorite from better days gone by “Clap your hands, everybody for Philadelphia 76ers,’’ and the message board flashed “Sixers Win’’ in bold bright letters, the players gathered at center court, almost unsure what to do.

After all, when you’ve gone 59 days between victories, it has to seem strange to celebrate rather than commiserate when the buzzer goes off.