Take your pick of Derek Fisher or David Stern, because one of them is to blame for all of these ACL tears and terribly lopsided games. Players bodies aren’t meant to play this many games in this short of a span of time – and now the NBA is paying the price.
The NBA regular season came at you hard and heavy – like a DeAndre Jordan foul shot – and some players exceeded expectations, while others underachieved. I’m going to hand out some awards to celebrate both of those ends of the spectrum, but before you read this I ask you, please take a moment of silence for Robert Traylor who died a year ago Friday. RIP Tractor, I’m not going to lie – I saw this coming.
The Walking Dead Award – Given to the player who everyone thought was dead, but rose again to be a not quite complete version of their old self:
Winner – Michael Redd
Redd used to be one of the best scorers in all of basketball, however, back to back ACL tears had people thinking that his days as a productive player were all done. The Suns signed him to a one year deal and Redd was a pleasant surprise – averaging 8.2 points while playing around 15 minutes a game for the Suns who – thanks to Steve Nash – almost made the playoffs. He may be a shell of the player he once was, but Redd did have a flashback against Houston – going for 25 points – and seemed to get more comfortable as the season progressed. If he can keep his knee stable, then there is no reason to think he won’t be a targeted free agent this off season for teams looking for scoring off the bench. Michael Redd can still microwave with the best of them and it’s nice to see him be able to get a season of injury free ball under his legs.
The Kwame Brown Award – Given to the player who was the biggest disappointment – like it’s namesake.
Winner- Lamar Odom
Look, I know the guy had a tough off-season, and I’m sure it’s not easy being married to Miss Piggy – but what the **** was good with Lamar Odom this year? He was an absolute beast last season and finally seemed to be coming in to his own. There was always talk around the NBA that Lamar Odom could be a top 5 player if he gave a ****, and while the ship had already sailed on him getting to that level – it appeared that Odom was ready to at least be a top 5 sixth man.
All year long Odom seemed distinterested and laxadasical on the court and it finally culminated in Mark Cuban telling him to just stay home and rub Khloe’s bunions. Maybe it’s all the sour patch kids and photo shoots, but Lamar is going to have put some serious work in during the off-season to get a team to take a flyer on him.
I always thought that Odom would be the perfect player on the Celtics – someone who could play all five positions, move inside and out on offense and bring the ball up the court to give defenses a different look – now I would rather the C’s sign the namesake of this award instead.
The “Are You Not Entertained?” Award – Given to the player who – despite playing their balls off – is criticized incessantly by the media and fans.
Winner (s) – Rajon Rondo, Blake Griffin
For all the flack Rajon Rondo has received since training camp, he still went out and averaged 11.9 pts, 11.7 ast, 4.8 rbds and 1.8 stl per game. He carried the Celtics down the stretch and if they are going to make the run they hope to in the playoffs the load will be directly carried by Rondo, but all I ever hear is what he “can’t” do and that he’s too volatile to build a team around. Even fantasy “experts” called Rondo a disappointment. I guess leading the league in assists and having six triple doubles on the year should be considered a bust. Appreciate Rondo for what he is, a distributor. Yeah, there are times when I scream at the TV because Rondo passed up a wide open lay-up to bounce it off Ryan Hollins’ face, but if that’s the price we as fans have to pay for watching him make countless other amazing passes that many PG’s don’t even bother attempting – nevermind the fact that he consistently hits players in their shooting “pocket”, enabling them to be fluid with their shot, which leads to more baskets (just ask Brandon Bass about it) – then so be it.
Rondo has an outside shot at being All NBA – stop nit picking.
What I here is: “Oh, all he can do is dunk.” “His foul shooting is terrible.” “He has no outside shot” “Unless he shoots a wide open, set shot – he can’t score from outside the paint.” “He doesn’t play defense.”
What I see is Blake Griffin completely control a game on both ends of the court. I see a second year player who for two years in a row has averaged 20 and 10, works hard, supports his teammates, is working on his post game and handles being the fact of the franchise better than any 23 year old this side of Kevin Durant.
Sure, the foul shooting is a concern and he tends to be out of control at times – but those things will improve. The Clippers – and Griffin – are going to be good for a long, long time. Enjoy what you’re seeing now, because players like Griffin don’t come around all the time.
The Desmond Mason Award – Given to the player who continues to get chances because of his athleticism and once a week has a dunk that makes everyone go, “Jesus Christ Monkey Balls!!”
Winner- Gerald Green
Once thought to be the future of the Celtics, Green found himself relegated to the D-League and the uncertain world of the 10 Day contract. Fast forward to now and Gerald finished the season with 31 games under his belt for the Nets. Green averaged a respectable 12.9 pts and 3.5 rbds per game and thanks in large part to plays like this, he should have no problem getting a contract next season. Hopefully he does the dunk contest because there isn’t a player in the NBA who gets hang time like he does.
The Werewolf Award – Given to the player who, once a month, transforms in to a beast.
Winner – Tracy McGrady
My former favorite player – and the guy with the best shoulder vein in the league – can still go out there and give you a game when that micro-fractured left knee of his is feeling good.
And don’t let anybody fool you, micro-fracture surgery is still terrible. Just because Amar’e played well the first half last year doesn’t mean they have it figured out. Look how Stoudemire has regressed. And if you don’t think the injury to his back is from favoring one knee then you’re kidding yourself.
But T-Mac is one of the main reasons the Hawks make me nervous now that they’re all playing. You know there is going to be one game this series where McGrady has a 2011 Brandon Roy performance. It’s sad to see him where he’s at now, but the skills are still there – just under the incredibly fragile surface.
The “That guy is still in the league?” Award – Given to the player who whenever he comes on the screen, people consistently ask the question:”That guy is that still in the league?”
Winner – Juwan Howard
The last remaining member of the “Fab Five” in the NBA and recipient of one of the grossest contracts in NBA history – Howard is still plugging along for the Heat. It may not be pretty, but he does contribute, somewhat. I can’t stand it when announcers talk about “the added toughness that Juwan Howard gives the Heat” but I do think he provides a good veteran voice and he does dress for games – while Eddy Curry wears street clothes – so the Heat must like something he does. Keep on keepin’ on, Juwan. Soon enough you can join Chris Webber on that awful NBA TV pregame show.
The Dennis Rodman Loose Cannon Award – Awarded to the player who best embodies Rodman’s style of play and bursts of lunacy.
Unanimous Winner – Metta World Peace
It wasn’t even a contest.
The Shawn Kemp On The Magic Award – Given to the player who gained the most weight.
Winner – Erick Dampier
See, and you thought this award was going to be about crack. Shame on you.
I watched Erick Dampier play live the other night and when I say the rims shook, it doesn’t do it justice. I literaelly thought they were going to come down when he dunked the ball. And it’s not like he was ripping down on the hoop like Shaq used to. Dampier can barely get off the ground anymore, but he would go up for dunks and just shake the entire backboard to its base. If I had to guess I would say Dampier goes a cool 350-360 now, and judging by this picture – it isn’t muscle.
The Lebron James Shut The **** Up Award -Given to the player who acted most like Lebron James did during the summer of “The Decision.”
Winner – Dwight Howard
Seriously, shut the **** up.