We ran a weekly Rookie Rankings this season, and while the Rookie of the Year was decided sometime before the All-Star break, it remained to be seen who would join Portland’s Damian Lillard among the NBA’s top five rookies.
I always wait until the final day of the season to make up my mind on my official NBA ballot choices.
Because during the lockout-shortened NBA season in 1999, I was in San Antonio covering a forgettable game at the Alamodome when I spoke with a veteran writer for a national publication who had already submitted his ballot after only 44 of the 50 games had been played.
I asked him, and I asked myself … “What’s the rush?”
I was working at the Associated Press in those days, and the AP does not allow its writers to vote for national awards (same rule applies at The New York Times). But after I left AP and went to ESPN, I became a national voter both for regular season and postseason awards.
I don’t have a vote but I am hoping to influence his thought process with my choices, which are below.
If not, I am hoping I will make him laugh with my snotty remarks.
Let’s get to it.
Bryant is a student of the game who understands its history and normally is not given to hyperbole. So when he offers an evaluation of an opponent – most of whom he holds in disdain – it should not be taken with a grain of salt.
And here’s what he had to say about Portland Trail Blazers rookie point guard Damian Lillard.
“He’s spectacular … really fantastic,” Bryant said. “A lot of players get hot, but he’s got the moves, patience, intelligence, the balance on his jumpers. He’s the real deal.”