Science and The Bible

Credit where credit’s due: Simmons couldn’t have been more right when he declared that this years MVP candidates form the deepest pool in league history. Of his top five frontrunners – Nash, Wade, Dirk, Bron, and Kobe –, each marshals a claim that is utterly rare and singular. And yet despite (or perhaps because of) this fact, all share a legitimacy that is alarmingly uniform, prompting every Page2 pundit this side of Jericho to anoint their various victors with absolute certainty. Depending on who you listen to, the MVP is either definitely Nash, definitely Wade, definitely Lebron or definitely Kobe. But while the pool of legitimate contenders may indeed be deep, the pool of legitimate arguments is far less so, and as is often the case with the thorniest multiple-choice puzzles, a process of elimination may be the shortest road to grace. With this we present, in descending order of obviousness, the three worst arguments for this year’s Most Valuable Player award:

(1) The Al Gore
“He won it last time, he should win it this time”
Player: Nash
Pundit: Chris Broussard (see also: Marc Stein, Tim Legler)

For the last three months, Nash has enjoyed the top slot on the majority of MVP lists. 52 wins, brand new roster, no Amare – the talking points are well-rehearsed. Yet strip away this pomp and pageantry and the conventional wisdom of virtually every pro-Nash partisan ultimately boils down to following inferential foxtrot:

He deserved/won it last season
He is playing even better this season
Ergo, he deserves/should win it this season

However elegant, this nifty little syllogism obscures one exceedingly simple flaw - so simple, in fact, we’re stunned to be the first to directly call it out. Simply put, this year’s MVP race IS NOT THE SAME AS last year’s MVP race. Last year, the only other contender was Shaq. This year, its half the league. The fact that Nash’s 04-05 season was the better than Shaq’s 04-05 season doesn’t necessarily imply that Nash’s 05-06 season – however much improved – is better than Lebron, or Wade, or Kobe’s 05-06 season. In short: Not all seasons are created equal.

(Note: what this defeats is not an argument for giving it to Nash, but the argument against NOT giving it to Nash, i.e. “how can Nash not get the MVP - he’s playing better than when he won it last year?”. But to the extant that every positive pro-Nash argument seems to rely on this negative one, we may safely conclude that as goes The Gore, so to goes the candidate.)


(2)The Bob Graham
“Great Stats + Viable Team = Winner”
Player: Dwyane Wade
Pundit: John Hollinger

Though recent events may have slowed his momentum, Wade has held his place alongside Nash at the very front of the MVP field. Back in mid-March, no less an authority than John Hollinger anointed him the hands-down MVP with the following, seemingly bullet-proof line of reasoning: Wade is the only candidate putting up prolific numbers (27-7-6) on a contending team. Of course, Bron’s Cavs have since called into question the second postulate, while Wade’s slump from a 1st to 4th PER rating has all but undermined the first. One could argue that this alone renders the Hollinger approach suspect - if his conclusions are so precarious, so must be his method. But there is also a broader point to be made about the incoherence of statistical comparison itself. Wade may average more assists than his rival 2 guards, and may use his possessions more efficiently, but how much of this is a function of his superior teammates as opposed to his own divine right and providence? As mighty an offensive powerhouse as Zydrunas Ilgauskas may be, he is hardly the second-option that Shaq is. Is it merely a coincidence that Shaq’s team has finished in the top 10 in total assists for 12 of his previous 13 seasons?; or that when he left the Magic in 1996, they fell from 2nd to 23rd in that category? This isn’t to say that Wade’s passing is necessarily less impressive than Lebron or Kobe’s – just that it is incomparable. Put simply, not all statistics are created equal.


(3) The Howard Dean
“The Greater the Contributions, the Greater the Man”
Player: Kobe Bryant
Pundit: Bill Simmons

With our choices narrowed to three, Simmons presents us with a logic that comes nearest of any to coherence. Eschewing historicism and fetishism alike, he relies on this simple formula: if we replaced candidate X with a decent player at their position for the entire 05-06 season, what would be the effect on the candidate's team? For example, Simons substitutes Mike Miller for Lebron, and predicts that the Cavs would have won 27 games instead of 50. Similarly, he substitutes Jamal Crawford with Kobe, and predicts that Lakers would have won 18 games instead of 45. Simmons doesn’t propose a substitution for Dirk, but lets assume that had he been replaced by, say, Zach Randolph, the Mavs would have won no more than 42 games this season. With this formula, Simmons believes he can measure – and thus, rank – the quantitative impact that each MVP candidate has had on their respective teams.

Dallas with Dirk = 61 wins
Dallas with Randolph = 42wins
Dirk’s Value = +19 wins

Cleveland with Lebron = 50 wins
Cleveland with Miller = 27 wins
Lebron’s Value = +23 wins

Lakers with Kobe = 45 wins
Lakers with Jamal Crawford = 18 wins
Kobe’s Value = +27 wins

According to Simmons, Kobe’s +27 wins makes him the #1 pick for MVP. Lebron is the #2 pick with +23 wins, while Dirk is #3 with +19 wins. Yet to reach this conclusion, Simmons must assume that all “wins” are completely alike. This clearly isn't the case: a win against Detroit is qualitatively different than a win against Charlotte. Similarly, it is easier to improve from 20 wins to 40 wins than it is to improve from 40 to 60: the first improvement entails beating teams like Houston and Philly; the second improvement entails beating teams like Denver and Phoenix. Ceteris paribus, the closer a team gets to 82-0, the more difficult each additional win becomes.

When evaluating the impact of MVP candidates on their teams, the question must not only be “how many wins do they add?”, but also “what kind?”. In an effort to make Simmons’ model more sensitive to the qualitative differences between wins, I’ve compared the 05-06 Mavs, Cavs and Lakers with those teams that best approximate their (predicted) MVP-less records: Utah, Toronto, and Portland. For each pair of teams (i.e. Dallas/Utah), I’ve categorized their regular season wins according to the quality of the opponent. Thus, of the 19 wins separating Dallas and Utah, exactly how many are against “Top Teams”, how many are against “Average Teams”, and how many are against “Poor Teams”. In this way, we can identity the qualitative distribution of the total wins each player adds to their teams.


In the table above, we see how the quantity of wins added by each candidate varies in terms of the quality of opponent. Of the +19 wins Dirk adds to the Mavs, the majority (10) are against Top Teams. In contrast, the majority of Lebron’s +23 wins are against Average teams, while the majority of Kobe’s +27 wins are against Average/Poor teams. The question of “whose wins are more valuable?” will have a different answer depending on how we value each type. If the values are something like (Top = 2)(Average = 1.5)(Poor = 1), Kobe’s +27 will still make him the #1 pick, followed by Lebron at #2 and Dirk at #3. If the values are more like (Top = 5) (Average = 3)(Poor = 1), then the order will be reversed: Dirk #1, Lebron #2, Kobe #3. In short, once we recognize that not all wins are created equal, Simmons model looses its objective determinacy, and the MVP race is once again up for grabs.


Although Simmons’ model gives no clear-cut answers, personally, I believe that Dirk’s +19 and Lebron’s +23 wins are ultimately more meaningful than Kobe’s +27. (I also think that the latter figure is exaggerated: would a similarly-coached Laker team of Crawford Odom and Parker really win 3 fewer games than this year’s Blazers? would they win 9 fewer games than Mike Miller’s Cavs?). So for me, the choice comes down to Dirk and Bron. On the basis of last month's performances, it isn't even close - Lebron wins hands-down. But insofar the award considers the entire season, I think the choice of Dirk is fairly clear. No one else has played more consistently fearsome, more consistently champion-like, or more consistently Dirk than Dirk. Even when his teammates have struggled with injury, he has continued to bring home wins, going 13-7 without Howard, 19-7 without Stackhouse, and 20-1 without Daniels. And if expert opinion has ignored his candidacy, this is only because its arguments – not the man himself – are lacking. So act quick and spread the word: Dirk is this year’s MVP.


At 4/18/2006 3:46 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

One quick note about the table:

Following Simmons, I've assumed that all three teams (Mavs, Cavs and Lakers) will win their final games. Also, in order to approximate Simmon's prediction of the Lakers as a 18-win team, I had to adjust Portland's record (currently at 21 wins), replacing their last three wins with losses.
Lastly, in the "Lebron=" column under "Average Teams", it should read 15+, not 14+ as it does now.

At 4/18/2006 3:59 PM, Blogger T. said...

I'm not sure why we should be surprised about poor reasoning, after all, punditry once postulated the opinion "LeBron James will never be anything more than an average player in this league"*

Kobe's arguement is much stronger if you say "Well, I think the MVP should go to the best player in the league" - then very few people have a counter arguement.

MVP-aside, is anyone besides me eagerly anticipating the Clippers/Gasol-beard showdown tonight? The one where home-court advantage goes to the losing team?

I think if I asked Dunleavy or the Czar pollitely, they'd let me on the court tonight to guard Cuttino or Eddie Jones.

*Charlie Rosen, circa 2002

At 4/18/2006 4:08 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

silverbird left out one of my favorites, the one responsible for the conversation that sparked this post: "lebron will win plenty in the future, so he doesn't need one now." this assumes:

1. we can predict lebron's future
2. there will be seasons where he is more clearly the front-runner
3. we will give it to him MULTIPLE TIMES in the future if he doesn't clearly deserve it, kind of a Malone X3 supposition.

i'm also intrigued by how it co-exists with the "nash can't win two in a row" principle. both presume that the overall career comes to bear on the decision. lebron will have a four-mvp career, so doesn't need it this year when others may need it more; nash's is not a two-mvp one, so he should be denied it.

but doesn't that seem like the wrong conclusion to draw when you put it like this:

lebron doesn't get it because he's so great, nash doesn't either, since he's not considered that great.

At 4/18/2006 4:37 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

good stuff, Silverbird. i'm a proponent of the "lebron will win plenty" line of thinking. Lebron may well be in the process of changing this, but for the time being i still think this is a League of Necessary Steps, and that a player's career should come into play.

simmons also made the significant point that the NBA has the most meaningful MVP, and i don't think these things are unrelated. by considering the artists prior work when giving out Mo-Pod, the league prevents the regrettable flash-in-the-pan winners that have plagued other sports. do we really want the ken caminiti's of the world winning this thing?

for whatever it's worth, these are the current lines on MVP:

lebron +295
kobe +122
nash +336
dirk +1200
billups +900

kobe was –111 or something yesterday, which makes me think a lot of money came in on lebron. And since we’re talking elections, keep in mind that bettors correctly predicted all 50 states in the last election.

and T, i'm absolutely looking forward to grizz-clips tonight, except it's inevitable that the Grizz win it. they've taken this classy "you can't turn it off and on" attitude, while the clippers, leaning on years of experience, are gettting blown out at staples by the sonics.

At 4/18/2006 4:39 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

I've been behind dirk for a while now, but after watching two national-tv dallas games in a row last week (golden state and phoenix) my faith is shaken a little bit. If the mavs had won out and taken the #1 spot from the spurs, i think dirk would have been a shoe-in. dirk certainly came out of those games with decent numbers, but watching the games i never got the sense that he was taking it over. it seems like there should be something more intense and marquee-worthy of an mvp. If you are down by a point, and have one shot to win the game, a lakers fan can feel ok about kobe taking a shot and missing. in that situation you just give him the ball and let him do what he wants, beacuse that's the best option you have (lebron, carmelo, the same). on the mavs, you'd rather have a good play set up than just letting dirk do as he will. i'm still behind dirk, because i think they are the most improved good team, but more and more i am hoping for a dark horse (elton brand = george mason).

Also, dirk would be the first foreign mvp, which sort of has the dawn-of-a-new-era thing about it.* I've always hoped that yao would go down with that title.

*(hakeem doesn't count, since he played college ball in houston).

At 4/18/2006 4:47 PM, Blogger T. said...

I've always hoped that yao would go down with that title.

You think if Yao put up his 2nd half numbers (27/12) and the Rockets were the 4th/5th seed that he'd have a chance? Or would the Rockets need to move up to #1? Is there a penalty since the Southwest is obviously the most difficult division?

At 4/18/2006 5:04 PM, Blogger Mirabeau Lamar said...

The numbers, especially scoring, are so freakish this year. If MLB allowed metal bats, you wouldn't see a comparable stats increase. I think Arenas would get more consideration too if everyone else wasn't shooting the lights out. 29/game is damn formidable. Plus he's been on a tear in his new incarnation as "Eastern Conference Assassin"* since his semi-snub on the All-Star team.

I guess I'm just saying that this year is such an odd paradox with three 60-win teams, three 30+ scorers and no clear dominant team or player. Is the League just insanely talented this year? Were the Bobcats the final straw in terms of expansion teams diluting the quality of play (i.e. with so many teams, lots of players can drop 50 or more at least once during a season and its easier to win 60).

*I told everybody at the All-Star break: Eastern Conference, I'm coming for you," Arenas said. "I'm the Eastern Conference Assassin right now; it's a tour from city to city."

At 4/18/2006 5:08 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

there is just something kind of counter-intuitive, or at least nor particularly visceral, about dirk taking it this year.

brick, i wonder if the "nba mvp means the most" line can be extended to say "back-to-back nba mvp MEAN SOMETHING." since as i proved a few weeks back, there is no shortage of lackluster back-to-back mlb winners.

my pops has always pointed out that the anomalous career year seems like a baseball-specific thing; would the back-to-back mlb mvp just be a stronger version of that? a career stretch?

and i guess that the mo-pod might have a legit complaint that "only greats can win" when, by and large, the winners are going to have/have had several other mvp-worthy campaigns. in a way, it's just a matter of doling out the trophies to that generation's HOF'ers. that's why nash is so pesky.

i also proposed to silverbird the following argument for dirk: he probably deserves one, and with all these new cats on the horizon, this is as good a chance as he'll ever have to take it. sort of the preemptive malone principle.

At 4/18/2006 5:10 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i dont know why i keep saying malone, since he actually won two. i guess someone trained me to do that.

or it barkley i mean?

At 4/18/2006 5:32 PM, Blogger Josh said...

Fwiw, Hollinger's actually picking LeBron for MVP now. Doesn't mean his argument's not still potentially flawed, but he did pick your guy in the end.

At 4/18/2006 5:42 PM, Anonymous Aaron said...

WPDK... Nash doesn't count as foreign, either, for the same reason as Hakeem? Or just because he's Canadian and they're virtually American?

I really dislike the whole "LeBron has more improvement left in him" argument. Even though I do have the sense that he has not yet reached his peak. Because if he's the best player in the league, why should he be penalized for not being as good as he can be?

At 4/18/2006 5:55 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

yeah, i had just noticed that the espn crowd put up their final picks today. funny coincidence.

I figured Hollinger would give up on Wade once his PER slipped to 4th. Looks like Broussard has jumped ship to Lebron as well. its amazing because if you look back to just 3 weeks ago, almost all those guys were arguing for either Wade or Nash. not only that, they did so as if it was the most obvious, irrefutable gospel.

the new votes for lebron seem to be coming mostly out of wade's pocket, rather than nash's. my guess is that this is because the argument for Bron is closer to Wade's than Nash's (i.e. stats plus borderline-viable team a la hollinger).

still no love for Dirk.

At 4/18/2006 6:11 PM, Blogger T. said...

Way OT, but just for Mrs. Arenas, not one, but two Gil articles.
Article 1

Article 2

At 4/18/2006 6:33 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

All points well taken regarding the different candidates - and as a fellow German I'd be more than happy to see Dirk win it.

But being from overseas and not having any personal ties to or childhood memories of any particluar franchise and simply not having the choice to watch more LeBron games than Wade games or Nash games might actually help this year.

Put simply, this was Kobe's season. He had the two most outstanding individual accomplishment, more team succes than everybody expected , and a significant improvement over last season while returning to the playoffs. Granted, the Lakers are not on par with the Spurs or Pistons. But how is this Kobe's fault?

Maybe this argument is to simple. But with every expert judging by a different standard (stats, team success etc.) and this season being as strange as it has been, maybe that's the way to go - look for the best storyline. I'm sure that every NBA fan from Miami or Dallas at least kept an eye on what Kobe might have done the night before. Hell, even the NBA players themselves were speaking in awe after the 81-point game.

Imagine in 2010, looking back on this regular season, what will you be talking about the longest and most intense? Exactly...

At 4/18/2006 6:47 PM, Anonymous Joe McPhee said...

What time is it?

At 4/18/2006 6:53 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

There has to be some discount for Dirk's lack of Wow-factor.

His shooting is great, he does remarkable things for a guy his size, and he's played a great season. But I can't remember ever having said "Wow" at something he did. I haven't convinced myself of this argument yet, but I think an MVP needs Wow-factor. Even the poor Mailman had at least a little Wow in him.

Right now, I think I'd vote for Kobe for MVP and Phil for COY. Kobe's the only candidate who's exceeded my expectations. The Cavs, Heat, and Mavs are right where I expected. Even the Suns are doing only slightly better than I expected (even with Amare out, I figured the system with Nash would work). I considered it as likely as not that the Lakers wouldn't make the playoffs again. But they've actually been pretty good, and they've seemed to get better as the season progressed. I credit Kobe and would give him the MVP for making his team more successful than I thought likely.

At 4/18/2006 7:19 PM, Anonymous 412hater215 said...

i don't understand how any conclusions can really be drawn from the simmons-style analysis. It looks nice because it spits out some numbers and enables a quantitative comparison. However, the comparisons are being based on semi-arbitrary grounds. Who decides Utah is a Dirk-less Dallas?

Frankly, as we see in the NFL and the Major Leagues, it really is a bandwagon-type popularity contest. All sorts of ludicrous received wisdom is brought into play (e.g. LeBron will win plenty down the line, pitchers can't be MVP).

The whole thing is rediculous and it gives basically exists only because this is one of the few opportunities sportswriters get to make themselves the story. I've worked in the sports section of a major metro daily for 5 years now, and basically, it's the one chance for sportswriters to fake the world into thinking they don't wear sweatpants all the time. They deliberately fuck things up with those principled "i don't think a pitcher can be the MVP" kinds of votes. Or they do things to spite other writers or particular players.

That being said, it's gotta be BronBron.

At 4/18/2006 7:47 PM, Blogger barkan said...

Wll put, my dear Masters Kaifa and Six.Dirk gets no points for his less-than-uber "Wow" factor nor for sharing my central European herritage.

Unfortunately as this post's title indicates, the MVP selection is a matter of faith and politics more than anything else. My heart and mind say LeBron, but just as it excludes Nash from two-peating due to indefinite HOF status, the League will hold off on James' ccoronation at least another year. The weight of the award demands it.

It's fun to debate who should get the Mo-Pod; it's more realistic to predict who will get it. You can argue it's been Detroit's season just as much as it's been Kobe's, but I think the award has to go to one player...

At 4/18/2006 8:15 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

i don't understand how any conclusions can really be drawn from the simmons-style analysis.

I completely agree. I do think that Simmons' reasoning makes more sense than the others, and it can go a long way towards clarifying exactly what it is that makes an MVP "valuable". But he's wrong to think of it as a formula that can magically generate some objective, determinate conclusion about the whole thing. (I hope this criticism comes through in the post).

Similarly, I've very much sympathetic to Wow-Factor or what-will-we-remember type arguments. The fact that they're subjective makes them no less illogical than the 3 "expert" rationales above, and they're a lot more fun to argue about.

I guess the point of the excercise was to try and evaluate the various MVP arguments on their own terms, and ultimately, to show where and to what extent they are flawed. I don't neccesarily think that the modified Simmons-logic is actually the best one for choosing an MVP. I just think that if people are going to try and make logical, non-subjective arguments, they should at least try to make them coherently.

At 4/18/2006 8:28 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

the reason i've concocted to justify my denial of a kobe-mvp is an extension of the "who meant the most to his team" argument. kobe certainly dragged his team along this year, singlehandedly willing the lakers to their impressive record of 3 games over .500. but in my mind, mamba still must take the blame for running shaq out of town. i know its old news, and i know its an off-the-court issue, (and i know that its unfair) but if you replace kobe with jamal crawford for the last two seasons, then l.a. still has the best center in basketball (a center who has, let's remember, been on a title-contending team every year since 1993, his rookie season). in terms of wins and losses, and in terms of total damage to his franchise and city, kobe is still in the red.

At 4/18/2006 8:33 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

However, the comparisons are being based on semi-arbitrary grounds. Who decides Utah is a Dirk-less Dallas?

just to clarify...I didn't choose Utah because I think the team itself resembles a Dirk-less Mavs, but because I think their record (42 wins) does (Dido for Cleveland/Toronto and LA/Portland). Basically, I was trying to figure out how many wins in a typical 42-win season are against Good, Average, and Bad teams, and then figure out how many of each type Dirk adds to the 61-win Mavs. What this does assume that the distribution of wins vs Good/Bad teams will be about the same for any given 42 team - that Utah is in this sense "typical". But I think that assumption is reasonable.

At 4/18/2006 8:51 PM, Blogger dean said...

I don't have much to add except YEAH for droppin that nation time image. Joe Mcphee for MVP!

At 4/18/2006 9:02 PM, Anonymous throwawayidentity said...

In defense of simmons, he did use the quote WOW unquote factor in his analysis. The wierd 'how many wins with X' formula was probably less of his argument than who had the most amazing/memorable/dominant year.

For my own two cents, I certainly don't buy the best player on the best team argument, and I think that stats are often meaningless, so WOW or something similar seems like the way to go. Stats, wins, teams are just pieces of evidence you use to make your WOW argument.
My choice, although not easy, is Kobe over The King.
Bron has been amazing, especially now with the pressure on, but Kobe's year was special. While I love Nash and Wade, Nash for bball sylistic reasons (it aint the hair) and Wade for his freakish athleticism, aggression and talent, they weren't as good as Kobe or Lebron.
As for Dirk, he had a pretty damn good year too, scored a lot of points, won a lot, etc... But he's never done or been a part of anything I'll remember.
I like the memorable argument, it is slightly less arbitrary than almost any other justification brought up.
You can probably say with some definity what things you are most likely to remember. What stuck out?
I think for most of us it's gonna be Kobe and with hindsight, the steady rise of the class of 2003.

At 4/18/2006 10:02 PM, Anonymous aug said...

How come no one is using the oldest anti-nash argument in the book. The man can't play defense. Simmons made a good point when he was talking about nash getting outplayed by a good amount of the point guards he plays against. He can't stop anyone, and no team can stop the phoenix suns offensive powerhouse system. I've seen Diaw do the same things nash does with him on the bench or on the court this season. Also, couldn't people use the same reasoning for dirk? He doesn't get dominated like nash does, but he still can't play much defense. He certainly isn't a threat to be a 1st 2nd, 3rd, 4th(you get the idea) all nba defense selection. Kobe, Bron, Wade, and Brand are the only guys who are playing a huge role in winning games and carrying their team, have wow factor(he has plenty of impact and exciting plays and game, regardless of what the really poor FD article said earlier), and all of those guys could easily end up on an all nba defense and offense team(if they offered it) unlike the other guys. Is that a sane argument? No. I just like complete players as MVPs more. If you're a big scorer on a good team, enjoy the all star game, but if you want the MVP, you better bring it on both ends.

At 4/18/2006 10:35 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

re: Simmons

He actually gives three criteria in his column:
1) who had the most Memorable Year
2) who would you pick first in a league-wide pickup game
3) the substitution question

but he also says that the first two are subjective, and that this makes #3 "the most crucial". so while its true that there's more to his argument, I don't think i'm being unfair in picking on the substitution stuff.

At 4/18/2006 11:04 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...


I agree about Nash's defense. I agree about dirk's Defense.
And I agree that Kobe, Bron, Wade and Brand are the only ones approaching "complete" games. But I'm not sure how you go on to conclude that those four "are the only guys who are playing a huge role in winning games and carrying their team". Are you really saying that Dirk isn't playing a huge role in carrying his team and winning games? (or Nash, for that matter). I'd argue he's playing even more of role: only Wade has led his team to a comparable level of success, but he has the help Shaq.

Defense is important, sure, but only as a means to an end. If Dirk can lead a team to 60+ games without it, who are we to hold that against him?

on the WOW factor - I agree its important. Still, i think one could argue that it actually has too much influence on how honors and awards are currently chosen. I noticed this telling exchange from today's Hollinger-chat transcript. When asked why Dirk doesn't get any attention from MVP analysts, Hollinger responded:

"Because it's not an easy pic to write an impassioned column about. I'm only half-kidding here -- the Nash argument is so easy to make, even if it's logically tenuous, whereas the Dirk argument doesn't have the same sex appeal. That's a stupid way to settle an MVP debate, of course, but I do think it may end up in the wrong guy getting the trophy."

At 4/18/2006 11:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Defense is important, sure, but only as a means to an end. If Dirk can lead a team to 60+ games without it, who are we to hold that against him?"

I don't understand this argument at all. I mean, if Dirk's a mediocre defender and Dallas wins 60 games, to me that says that his offensive numbers are overstating his contribution and maybe Dallas without Dirk wouldn't be as bad as we think.

With Wade, Kobe, Dirk, Nash, and Lebron, we're talking about five guys
who are offensive juggernauts and whose contributions on that end are basically interchangable. Given this situation, what excuse could you possibly have for not picking one of the two lock-down defenders? Lebron is good but not great on the offensive end, Dirk is mediocre, and Nash is a total liability.

Between Kobe and Wade, it's obvious that Kobe is doing more with less. Although -- and I don't know if this was meant seriously or not -- the argument about running Shaq out of town does keep chirping away in the back of my mind.

At 4/19/2006 12:14 AM, Blogger mutoni said...

Bryant : -signature moment(s) of the season
-most talented and complete player
-did most with the least for his team
-NO ONE ELSE could've dragged that team into the playoffs. Not a single other player. Don't be silly.

Yeah, he ran Shaq out of town, but that fat-ass also wanted too much money and the owner had to make a business decision. Guess what, he made the right call.

What Wade, Bron, Nash and Dirk did this season is cute and all, but it's not groundbreaking (fine, Lebron's stuff is ridiculous, but still...)
All of their teams are exactly where they SHOULD be.

Bryant, however, is on some other shit.

If you watch the Lakers with any sort of regularity you quickly realise that they have no business whatsoever being in the postseason (with an outside chance of even putting a scare into Phoenix).

To vote for anyone else is beyond ridiculous, as far as I'm concerned.
Simmons hit a monster homerun with that column. I don't care if he spends the rest of the year writing about reality TV, he's in my good book. He has seen the light and it's about damn time.

At 4/19/2006 12:31 AM, Anonymous 412hater215 said...

in using a team's record as the criteria for including said squad in your analysis, you have made a completely subjective choice which is, in and of itself, the determinant for the "answer" you derive.

The team you choose, with all of the intangible qualities which play into its performance, provides your answer, not the actual effect of the player. The number of wins YOU THINK they would have without their marquee name is the single greatest factor in what the dependant variable returns.

(what can i say, i'm a scientist. picking apart experiements is my forte)

At 4/19/2006 12:40 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i have to say, i think that kobe's negative pr is affecting people's ability to see what an unbelievable season he's had. if anyone, i meant ANYONE else in the nba had this season, it would be an automatic mvp. bringing up shaq, or grudgingly acknowledging that he put up 81. . .at some point, you're hurting your own appreciation of the game if you get hung up on petty shit like that.

and for anyone who salutes lebron's fantastic finish: guess what, kobe has not only put on one of the all-time great individual searing broths, he's also now actually managed to help pull together that team around him. no, he's not a point guard, but if you've watched that laker team over the last month and seen how flat-out coherent they all of a sudden look. . . that's got to be partly kobe's doing. or, rather, if you blame him for sabotaging the team when it was "everyone watches kobe," give him some credit for getting kwame involved and confident, and learning to work off of odom to the tune of a nightly forecast of a chance of 3x2.

he was the greatest individual player before the all-star break, and since has stayed that but brought a team together around it. process, people, process.

At 4/19/2006 12:45 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...


i'm pretyt sure those were simmons' numbers, not silverbird's. i agree that those are arbitrary, but i think the point is that, if you go with those, there is a more precise way to think about them. and in that, you discover a trend that is relevant to measuring the importance of wins in an mvp race. for instance, i now am inclined to think that dirk's presence on a team that would be pretty good with a lesser #1 option makes them great rather than good. and that's more significant than shitty to good. that's why tim duncan kept getting it, right?

At 4/19/2006 12:50 AM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

But if you are a laker's fan, are you happy with where this team is now as compared to where it was 2 seasons ago? No chance. And that's all mamba.

At 4/19/2006 2:47 AM, Anonymous aug said...


If you read my not very coherent paragraph, i said that kobe, bron, wade and brand were the only ones with all of that. Of course dirk carried his team, but when did the mvp become simply about that? Basketball is different than other sports because of how important playing both sides of the ball is. Look at past mvps not named nash. It's not just about getting more wins. It's about winning games, having a complete game, meaning the most to your team, dominating and wowing. That's just what i get from most all the mvps not including last year. In football, you only play offense or defense and in baseball, fielding isn't nearly as important as hitting(see fat, old barry winning mvps and ortiz almost winning last year). The NBA has always had a very high standard until last year. If you win an MVP, you better be a SUPERSTAR. Not Gilbert, not Nash, not dirk. Carrying your team and having a flaw in your game, whether it be defense(nash, dirk, and sometimes gilbert), or putting up big numbers with not enough wins(gilbert), just isn't enough. I don't want to see my mvp get dominated the way nash and dirk do. You don't see kobe, bron, wade or brand get destroyed by opposing players nearly as often as nash or dirk. That's just not a good image for an MVP, unless you want their stock MVP photo to feature a player blowing by them. I'm not saying it's easy or even possible to fairly judge the mvp. I'm just saying that the MVP doesn't just go to reward guys for nice seasons, it historically(not nash) has gone to one of the most complete and best players in the league who means the most to his playoff team. That person is most always a SUPERSTAR. I just hope we erase last year and return to that tradition. Let it be heard: let it be Kobe

At 4/19/2006 3:07 AM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...


I think we have a differing interpretation of the kind of "value" created by an MVP. You seem to define it as the maximum sum of offensive and defensive production, whereas i'm more interested in production vis-a-vis team success.

So, in statistical terms, you're probably right that Wade, Kobe, Dirk, Nash and Bron are "basically interchangeable" on offensive, and thus, we might as well give the award to the best defender.

But do you also want to argue that all 5 players are "basically interchangeable" with respect to their impact on team success? This would mean that any differences between their teams must be attributable to differences in their teammates. Do you really believe that Wade's supporting cast is 9 wins worse than Dirk's supporting cast? If not, the impact they have on team success must in fact be distinguishable.

At 4/19/2006 3:51 AM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...


Sorry I misread your last comment.
You're exhortation to "look at past mvps not named nash" is well taken. I'm not going to argue that Dirk's game has the completeness and superstar quality that has traditionally marked the MVP. The fact is, he doesn't - at least not when compared to a Kobe or Lebron.
But your advice cuts both ways. Besides their superstardom, past MVPs have also been distinguished by the quality of team that they lead. Of the past 25 MVPS, 24 were picked from teams with either the #1 or #2 regular season record. The traditional definition is clear: the MVP isn't just a superstar, but a superstar on a contending team. That said, does anyone honestly believe that the Cavs or Lakers will even make it out of the conference semis this year?
Ultimately, I think we just have to admit that this season is weird, and that no player can meet all the traditional criteria.


You're right that the predicted number of wins "is the single greatest factor in what the dependant variable returns", and that this prediction is ultimately subjective. But as Shoals said, I didn't make the predictions - Simmons did. And besides, just because its subjective doesn't make it arbitrary. given enough time, we could probably come to a consensus about how many games a Kobe-less Lakers could win. its more intersubjective than anything else.

At 4/19/2006 4:00 AM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

Broussard and Hollinger may have changed their ways, but Marc Stein is holding strong. The teaser for his newest Dime reads:

"With so many deserving MVP candidates, it's tough to argue too hard against any of the finalists. But Steve Nash, the reigning MVP, was even better than he was last season, and that should seal it".


At 4/19/2006 4:03 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

But do you also want to argue that all 5 players are "basically interchangeable" with respect to their impact on team success? This would mean that any differences between their teams must be attributable to differences in their teammates. Do you really believe that Wade's supporting cast is 9 wins worse than Dirk's supporting cast? If not, the impact they have on team success must in fact be distinguishable.

i think he meant "basically interchangable" in terms of offensive output, which still isn't true, but at least would allow someone to argue that defense provides the extra part. though like any of the mvp candidates--and i include bryant in this--are game-altering defenders this season. as in shut down the best player on the opposing team, reliably, for more than just one key play.

At 4/19/2006 4:05 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

mostly i am just sick of thinking of nash as mvp, since it's been going on now a lot of last season and most of this one. you could make the same argument for kobe and the past eight months. at least lebron is somehting fresh.

why the fuck am i still awake.

At 4/19/2006 4:59 AM, Blogger Zembla said...

The whole anomalous baseball MVP thing is a factor of there being separate awards for each league. If MLB awarded one single MVP like the NBA does, Dale Murphy wouldn't have back-to-back MVPs; he'd have zero MVPs. If the NBA awarded separate conference awards, you'd lose the MVP=HOF thing immediately. Also, I feel like Kobe would be much more of a slam dunk over Nash in a Western-Conference-only race - Mamba's really competing for votes with LeBron and Wade, while Nash is riding the effects of his totally-undeserved win last year. I'm with Shoals - I can't believe we're at like month 18 of Nash being considered a legit MVP.

I think limiting the player pool makes baseball writers more prone to saying, "Fuck it, Tejada", without considering larger implications of the vote. AL voters in particular seem crazy, with writers equally likely to refuse to vote for pitchers as they are to give the award to a guy who pitched only 80 innings. Though Karl Malone won just because people felt sorry for him, and I don't know if the equivalent situation ever happened in baseball.

At 4/19/2006 8:34 AM, Blogger Josh said...

ah, the illogic of Marc Stein. so does this mean next year if Bron avgs a triple-double and Kobe avgs 40/game and Nash gets 20 and 10 we have to give Stevie the three-peat? after all, that'd be EVEN BETTER THAN THIS YEAR!

At 4/19/2006 8:35 AM, Blogger Josh said...

ok, 20 and 11 to be precise.

At 4/19/2006 10:43 AM, Blogger mutoni said...

WPDK : "But if you are a laker's fan, are you happy with where this team is now as compared to where it was 2 seasons ago? No chance. And that's all mamba."

I know this is petty and has been discussed ad-nauseum, but I can't help myself, not with people continuisly using this insane train of thought to discredit the great #8.

Let's first agree on one thing. There's no way both Bryant and O'neal were both going to stay in LA. I'm surprised they even managed to stick together 8 years to begin with. This is not entirely Bryant's fault, and if you truly think it is, you're nothing if not misinformed.

Dr. Buss (the owner) and the GM had to pick one of the two. If you recall, O'neal came into camp whining about getting a massive contract extension and talks had broken off by mid-season.

Option 1)
Shaq : 34 years old, missing ton of games, in no shape, can't dominate anymore, can't carry a team anymore.

Option 2)
Bryant : 27 years old, in his prime, doing historic things and carrying a team and DOMINATING.

Now, please, tell me how as a Laker fan how I could possibly be happy with option 1. Humor me.

At 4/19/2006 10:55 AM, Anonymous Torgo said...

Just since no one is mentioning him, what about Billups? Last season, the Spurs finally proved who the most valuable Piston is when they put Bowen on him at the end of Game 7. Popovich was like some evil overlord in a bad kung-fu movie, where the hero thinks he's won, and evil overloard says "I see you forgot about my army of ninjas" (yes, I know ninjas and kung fu don't really mesh). If Billups is shut down, the Pistons lose.

As for wow factor, Billups can, when needed, take over games. He has amazing range, drives, posts up, has sick ft%, and plays solid d to boot. Not to mention the 4:1 Assist/Turnover thing. And, well, franchise record in wins, ten more games than last year, that sort of thing. It seems, though, that he's getting honorable mention status. Maybe he's not going to win it, but he deserves better than that.

As for Phil as COY, poop, I say. He hasn't coached a bit. He twirls his goatee and calls Kwame (a head case with serious confidence issues) a pussy. Good work, Coach. He knows it's Bryant's show, and he's just along for the ride, and that nice paycheck that comes with it. Maybe Bryant is uncoachable, maybe he's transcended coaching, but you can't tell me Jackson ever once drew up a play and said, "okay, you four guys, stand there with your hands out, waiting for the ball. Kobe, you drive to the hoop, and take a shot over 3-4 defenders. Go Team!"

As a sidenote, I believe Larry Brown's inability to handle the Bowen on Billups situation, making some kind of substitution, finding a play, that's the proof that he's over-hyped. We didn't need to see the Knicks this year, we already knew.

At 4/19/2006 11:04 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

"okay, you four guys, stand there with your hands out, waiting for the ball. Kobe, you drive to the hoop, and take a shot over 3-4 defenders. Go Team!"

WATCH THE LAKERS. this is some barkley-type shit to continually claim that the team has no flow.

and like the cavs are a portrait of team trust and collaboration

At 4/19/2006 11:28 AM, Blogger Vegan Viking said...

I don't like the "he doesn't play defense argument" when arguing about a player on a team that wins 50+ games.

To put it into simplified individual terms:

If Player X scores 40 but gives up 25, why is he less valuable than Player Y who scores 25 and gives up 10?

The point of basketball is to win games. If you've got a balanced or defensive team and win games 88-80, fine. If you've got an offensive show and win games 118-110, fine. Simply saying "he doesn't play defense" isn't an argument against a player if that player is still leading his team to victories.

At 4/19/2006 11:36 AM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

PV - very well said.
i tried to express this sentiment in an earlier comment, but your version is far better.

At 4/19/2006 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Simply saying "he doesn't play defense" isn't an argument against a player if that player is still leading his team to victories."

So your argument is: if a guy has good offensive numbers and his team wins a lot of games, I guess that proves defense doesn't matter.

All this stuff about adding up the number of games you think a team coulda/shoulda/woulda won without player X is fantasy. Heat - Wade > Dallas - Dirk? Who the hell knows. Offense is basically quantifiable, and I don't think there's a knock-down argument for any one of these guys on the offensive end. Certainly there is no argument for Dirk that negates Kobe's HUGE advantage on the defensive side. Is there? Seriously, besides sitting around and guessing about how many games a deep and talented Dallas team would have won without Dirk, what is it about his game that has enabled him to "lead" his team to all those wins?

It's silly to look at a bunch of guys with comparable stats and just pick the one whose team has the most wins. If you watch the games, it's pretty obvious that Kobe is dominating on another level.

At 4/19/2006 12:34 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

sb2k5: I didn't mean to over-emphasize Wow-factor. It's a necessary but not a sufficient basis for awarding the Mo-Pod.

On Kobe's Shaq discount: What happened with Kobe, Shaq, Buss, and Kupchak will and should color all of their careers. That they couldn't figure out how to share that pie is straight up stupid. (I don't buy the "this team ain't big enough for the both of them" line of thinking. They pretty smart and obviously self-interested guys. Someone should have been able to mediate.) WPDK raises a good question; however, LA fans may not be as happy as they were two seasons ago, but they have to be happier than they were last season.

torgo: The Lakers that I watched beat the Suns on Sunday wasn't the same team that I saw at the beginning of this season. I credit Mamba and Coach Goatee-Twirler. They've turned what could have been another disastrous season into a success. Even if CGT never drew up a clever play in his life, and even if that approach with Kwame was a failed experiment, overall what he's done has worked.

Confidential to Mo Cheeks: Last night Iggy put up 19 shots, scored 27, and handed out 8 assists. Next season, whether AI is still there or not, you might want to figure out how to get AI2 a few more shots.

At 4/19/2006 1:11 PM, Blogger c-los said...

Im tired of hearing people say that Dirk "carried" his team. He is surrounded by a pretty damn good supporting cast. He's got the probable Coach of the Year(Avery), 6th man of the Year(Stack), and a cast of other solid players. He's having a great year but its not on the same level as Bron & Kobe. Bron carried this team all yr despite Larry being hurt, Basketball Jones reverting back to his sorry ass, Gooden showing up every once in a while, and a coach who is lost. Kobe has been discussed to the death already. The only argument you can make against Kobe is that his team is barely over .500 and very rarely does a player not from a top 5 team not get it.

At 4/19/2006 1:14 PM, Blogger Vegan Viking said...

No, Anon, I'm not suggesting defense doesn't matter.

I'm suggesting there is more than one way to win at basketball, and both defense and offense only matter if you're able to lead your team to wins. So yes, I think an MVP candidate should be able to lead his team to a winning record (but that doesn't mean I'd consider candidate X on a 60 win team to be better than candidate Y on a 45 win team). But I wouldn't hold a player's defensive deficiencies against him if he was leading his team to wins, either.

At 4/19/2006 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But c'mon dude, spell it out -- what is Dirk doing to "lead his team" to all those wins that's over and above what all the other candidates are doing? OF COURSE we'd all be willing to overlook Dirk's defensive mediocrity if he was actually BETTER at offense than any of the other guys. Do you want to make that case? Let's hear it.

Dirk is surrounded by the perfect supporting cast for his game -- a bunch of athletic, deferential guys who cover his ass on D. That's where 60 wins comes from.

At 4/19/2006 2:18 PM, Blogger Vegan Viking said...

Anon, I'm not arguing for Dirk as MVP; I'm not trying to make a case for him or anyone else in particular. I'm just making a general statement about the relative role of defense.

At 4/19/2006 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can't resist:

nash as MVP just seems silly to me. if you watch the suns, it's marion ripping balls out of the sky and throwing them down that makes it work just as much as nash (diaw throws the same type lobs and gets the same type assists). it's like giving stockton MVP for dishing so much to malone. even ignoring nash's lack of D, that seems silly.

billups fits the mold in almost all ways but the most critical -- he just doesn't seem like an MVP compared to the ridiculous years some others are having.

giving kobe the MVP for playing great on a weak team, dragging them to the playoffs seems off compared to past -- MVPs usually coming from great teams -- but he does seem to be dominating like the MVP should.

wade suffers from shaq's shadow, even though i think miami's success is more about wade than shaq, and the heat are nearly a contender (i expect the nets to take them down, vince finally deciding to quiet the critics).

lebron has just been ridiculous of late, with little more help than kobe, but doing it in the east.

so i see it as toss up between LBJ and kobe, though wade's selection wouldn't offend me.

At 4/19/2006 3:22 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i would just like to point out how unlikely it is that wade will get it. he's not as impressive a one-man team as lebron or kobe, and his team's not that good.

in terms of "i can picture this happening" factor, i would have to go:

1. kobe
2. bron
3. nash
4. dirk
5. billups
6. wade
7. brand

very meaningful word verification: wwshqe

At 4/19/2006 4:41 PM, Anonymous mcgee said...

Along the lines of the irrational MVP arguments, the one that is constantly dragged out against Kobe is that he doesn't "make his teammates better."

But why should making teammates better be the responsibility of any player -- even the MVP (particularly if the player is not a PG)?

The MVP is supposed to make his team better. Sometimes that means knowing when you've just got to take over.

The NBA is sport where this makes the most sense, because a single guy can take over a game and start making the five guys on the other team look like cattle, even if his teammates are just following him around the court and occasionally snagging a rebound. Making the team better, in this case, means being the team, not getting 13 assists.

Sometimes players take over for only a few minutes, but sometimes it's for an entire season. And it's this "take over" quality that seems to be what an MVP needs.

In Kobe's case, there are times when him putting up 18 shots in a quarter is going to more reliably lead to victory than him trying to dish it off to Smush Parker and Luke Walton. Does it make him more valuable if he tosses a pass to Kwame Brown and then Brown can't finish?

Whether or not they gel as a team is much more dependent on the degree to which the players buy into the Kobe-centric offensive philosophy. There have been at least two games I watched this season where Odom refused to give up the ball at the end of the game and the shots he got weren't good enough to win. It's debatable whether Kobe could have done more, but Odom's resistance to "give Kobe the ball" was what lost the game. In this case, Kobe "making his teammates better" would involve yelling at Odom to not take that off-balance three and instead letting Kobe drive to the basket.

Kobe puts up a lot of bad shots. Almost certainly more than anyone else in the league. But these are a side-effect of his desire to win. He believes -- and some would say rightly so -- that he is the one who gives the Lakers the best chance of scoring points on any given possession. So he takes the shots.

At 4/19/2006 4:53 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

i can't get over this debate raging throughout the night. playoff fever, catch it!

i defer to a-wood of idle@werk regarding any mention of Kobe not making his teammates better:

"Last year, Smush Parker was bouncing around the D-League and Kwame Brown was suspended and threatening to beat up his point guard. Now they're starting on a Western Conference playoff team."

At 4/19/2006 5:07 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

why if the regular season is meaningless and the playoffs kingz are we not talking about the great season-after?

so on point about reminding us what a-wood said. it's not just that "someone has to start next to kobe." smush is a legit nba player now, and kwame a decent young post thing. they're not just taking up space.

At 4/19/2006 5:24 PM, Anonymous aug said...

Seriously. I don't see how Kobe doesn't make his team and teammates better when you look at what Mihm, Smush, Cook, and Kwame are doing. It's not like Nash created Marion, Joe Johnson, Qrich or Amare. Those guys were stars or budding stars before he got there. If anything, Nash was one of the least talented members of that suns team last year.

At 4/19/2006 6:26 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Aug, I'm with you on Kobe's influence, but some of the credit for those guys' improvement could go to the triangle offense and maybe even Phil Jackson and staff. Remember, the offense helped make the Longley/Wennington combo into productive NBA players and Jud Buechler look like he belonged. So it's at least plausible that giving Kwame and Mihm a clearly structured role in the triangle, thereby hiding some of their weaknesses and putting them in situations that work to their strenghts has been as important as a dose of Kobe's confidence/arrogance (whatever you want to call it).

Regarding the playoffs, which players are you looking forward to see go at each other when the stakes are the highest (Conf. Finals, Finals)? One-on-one match-ups that are destined to be great for whatever reason, even if we'll never see them in reality...

The plausible ones:

Rasheed vs. Dirk. Wallace seems like the bizarro Dirk, having the same range on his shot but oozing emotion where Nowitzki seems to lack it. Both having the potential to cause problems with their fall-away jumpers in the low-post but being reluctant to go there.

Gary Payton against Nick van Exel. How would this not be wildly entertaining if those guys saw major minutes against each other in an overtime game where Williams/Wade and Parker have already fouled out?

And one dream match-up: Amare vs. Dwight Howard. Although a healthy Amare is clearly a step ahead of Howard right now, don't they just seem perfectly bulit to beat the shit out of each other on the biggest possible stage?

At 4/19/2006 6:46 PM, Blogger barkan said...

Colangelo made the Suns better! If you have Amare, JJ, and Shawn on your team, a) get a PG who will set them up and b) a coach who will run a style through which they can succeed. The excellence of Diaw, Bell, House, and the ressurection of Tim Thomas are all assists from Colangelo rather than Nash.

Argument I find almost as vile as Stein's: Billups, because he runs the best, most complete team in basketball. Bill Walton should be in a wax museum.

At 4/19/2006 8:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am more inclined to give the majority of the Lakers success to Phil.

No one is a greater product of a system than Kobe.

Kobe, lost the MDE and HOF coach, result for the Lakers, lottery.
Kobe, got a HOF coach, along with his coaches' system, result for Lakers, 7/8 seed.

Without at least a HOF coach, and a system, regardless of what Kobe did, I fear they would again have been destined for the lottery.

At 4/19/2006 11:19 PM, Anonymous WizzNutzz said...

Why does everybody leave out THE BLACK PRESIDENT when talking MVP? Without Agent Zero the Wizards wouldn't be going to the playoffs; they'd be going over to Wes Unseld's house for the annual uncomfortable team picnic where Abe Pollin always drinks too much cheap brandy and starts pinching G-Wiz in the ass and Rod Strickland hammers half-smokes like he's stocking up for winter. AND NOBODY SHOULD BE FORCED TO SEE WES UNSELD IN A BANANA HAMMOCK BEFORE MAY!!!! Thank you, Gilbert!

At 4/19/2006 11:51 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i think too little of the mvp award to suggest that

At 4/20/2006 12:00 AM, Anonymous 412hater215 said...

credit where credit is due. simmons is a chump, you did drop a pretty thorough analysis.

At 4/20/2006 12:40 AM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

If Good Gil did win the Mo-Pete, where would he get the motivation to write "SNUB" in black Sharpie on his sneakers prior to dropping 40 on Cold Mountain Hughes? Better that the Black President stay snubbed.

Today's Good Gil story: In his last year with the Warriors, in a game against Atlanta, Agent Zero could be heard by nigh onto the entire arena in a timout before the final possession saying: "I'm gonna steal that ball!"

And then he said it again, just in case we hadn't heard it the first time. "I'm gonna take the ball!"

Then he went out there, stole that ball and went the length of the court for the lay-up and the win.

Good Gil!

Oh man, looks like it's Wizards-Cavs. If Lebron gets the MVP, that could stoke the snub-fires even higher.

At 4/20/2006 10:21 AM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

b. shoals, as the font of all gilly wisdom, i wanted to get your opinion on the aforementioned cavs-wiz contest. (the first round matchup i am most excited about). do you think the wiz can that series?

At 4/20/2006 12:36 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

you can expect some tangentially relevant playoff wisdom before they blast off, but regarding the series that made my future: lebron is perfect, but arenas is a post-season demon. he was enormous against the bulls, remember? and while the cavs have a more sensibly constructed supporting cast, the wizards arguably have more talent.

lebron has made a career so far out of being as consistently fantastic as we expect him to be. arenas has constantly defied the odds. that pretty much explains why, to me, this is a dead heat.

but in the end, no amount of arenas witchcraft can measure up to lebron's immanent greatness. and they don't have a center.

At 4/20/2006 1:18 PM, Anonymous aug said...

Speaking of gil, does anyone know his online poker alias and what site he uses? I'd like to see how good he is.

At 4/20/2006 2:07 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

last night i dug up the old PokerStars account and ran member searches at halftime of Pistons-Wiz. alas, searches for "Gilbert," "agent zero," "Black President," and "Bacon" produced no results. but i can't stop thinking of Gil calculating pot odds in full-uni. something tells me he likes going all-in.

however, now that i'm aware of gilbert's fondness for internet gambling, i'm wondering if he'll use the current odds for motivation. vegas dogged the Wiz last night, making them +200 something underdogs (it's gone down a little since). it isn't too surprising since the public loves lebron, but i personally think the Wiz will take this series.

At 4/20/2006 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a load of crock. BS' argument about replacing the MVP candidate with an 'average player' was just that -- BS. You layering additional pseudo-statistics on top doesn't make it any more valid, even for the purposes of evaluating the argument itself.

The sarcasm regarding Hollinger's 'authority' was amusing...that guy has a Bill-Walton-esque ability to piss people off. I lost interest and faith in his stats a long time ago, after it became apparent he uses his ESPN-granted courtside seats to watch the scoreboard rather than the game.

BTW, how come we're not hearing as much this year about the comparative quality of the conferences? Eastern-is-Leastern still holds as far as I'm concerned (fo' sheezy -- the Eastern has 4 sub-30-win teams as compared to the West's 1). In fact, the average Western Conference team averages more than 6 more wins than an average Eastern Conference team (and I haven't even discounted for the distortion that the Pistons' near-record-breaking season introduces).

The MVP is Kobe: superlative all through the season, and playing the role required of him to a T. Watch out for Kwame and Big Baby in the playoffs.


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