Monday afternoon, in an announcement about as shocking as long lines at the post office on Tax Day, Dwight Howard received his third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award, in near-unanimous fashion. Kevin Garnett was second, Tyson Chandler third. Nothing wrong with the selection, since Howard is clearly the league's dominant defensive presence, leading most metrics measuring performance on that end. Three Lakers registered points in the balloting. Kobe Bryant was 11th with 18 points, including five second place votes. Ron Artest finished 18th (eight points), and one voter tabbed Andrew Bynum for second place (three points).
Eleventh constitutes a "reputation" result for Kobe, who no longer guards the other team's best player nor locks down his man with consistency over an 82-game regular season (nor, frankly, would you want him to at this point in his career -- best to save the energy for key moments and the postseason).
And while he didn't deserve to win, 18th is too low for Artest, who now carries much of the defensive burden for Bryant and in one-on-one situations is still an outstanding perimeter defender, capable of altering games. Monday, we asked Artest for his opinion on the voting. While sticking up for his own resume, Artest quickly made peace with the outcome in his own way.
"Those coaches know why they put me in screen and rolls. They don't want too many isos with their best players [against me]," he said. "That's why a lot of coaches don't have jobs, and a lot of coaches are gonna be fired. Because the coaches pick, right?"
Nope. It's the media.
"Media pick? Wow."
Oh well. Water off a duck's back. "It's bad judgment," he said of his ranking, "but that's OK. Nobody's perfect."