April 20, 2004
It's time to give out some hardware, baby! I had to go to the VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) to get the winners of the major NBA awards.
Player of the Year: KG
Three guys jump out at me in this competition – San Antonio's Tim Duncan, Minnesota's Kevin Garnett and Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal.
|Kevin Garnett could actually be earning a higher salary.|
Garnett has been an absolute sensation all year long. Averaging over 24 points and 14 rebounds a game for the entire season is impressive. Equally impressive is his 71 double-doubles, which proves his metronome-like consistency.
As great as Duncan has been, he missed some time due to injuries. Meanwhile, O'Neal had a super season for the Pacers, developing into a dominant big man.
My choice is the multi-talented Garnett.
Rookie of the Year: LeBron
This is a tough call in a two-man race. LeBron or Carmelo? Carmelo or LeBron? Yes, Anthony has his team in the playoffs, but Denver added more than just the former Syracuse star. Think about the importance of free-agent acquisition Andre Miller and a healthy Marcus Camby.
I give the slight edge to LeBron for revitalizing Cleveland. The Cavaliers made a run at the playoffs, but fell a bit short down the stretch.
James did not have the supporting cast, but at least this team has stepped forward in the right direction for the future. Don't measure LeBron just by scoring; look at his court presence, his awareness, his passing ability.
Besides, Anthony should have been in a Pistons uniform. Imagine if he was in Detroit instead of Darko Milicic right now!
Coach of the Year: Hubie
There are a number of deserving candidates out there. Think about Terry Porter and the job he did as a diaper dandy coach in Milwaukee. Jeff Bzdelik took Denver from 17 wins a season ago to the playoffs this year. Stan Van Gundy took the Heat to fourth in the Eastern Conference after an 0-7 start. Flip Saunders led the Timberwolves to the Western Conference regular season championship. Also, Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown each did outstanding jobs.
In the end, the Coach of the Year is a runaway. Hubie Brown led the Memphis Grizzlies to 50 wins. How many people would've imagined that happening?
Let's put in perspective. Memphis won a total of 51 games over the prior TWO seasons!
Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979 (he's been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.