â†µ â†µToday's Calls: Chris Paul vs. Kobe Bryant, Warriors vs. Nuggets, Jazz vs. Rockets, Carmelo vs. His Teammates, David Ortiz vs. Nate McLouth, Zack Greinke vs. Randy Johnson, Sean Avery vs. Martin Brodeur, Michael Beasley vs. Kevin Durant and More! â†µâ†µ
â†µThe Opening Pitch: Who is YOUR NBA MVP? As the Lakers complete their season tonight at home against the Kings (looking to lock up the No. 1 seed in the West) and the Hornets host their final home game of the regular season (looking to finish off the league's most unexpected turnaround), the competition, for me, is down to two contenders: Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul. â†µâ†µ
â†µWhat is your most valuable Most Valuable criteria? â†µâ†µ
â†µ*Most talented player, period?
â†µ*Most important to his team?
â†µ*Do you discount the level of supporting cast?
â†µ*How about comparisons to preseason expectations?
â†µ*Where does "breakthrough" novelty fit in?
â†µFor me, it's a mix of all of those, maddening to fans looking for clarity (and joining their guy on the outside looking in), but perfect for a toss-up season like this one. â†µâ†µ
â†µI appreciate that Kobe is the best player in the league, just as I appreciate that LeBron is the most talented. â†µâ†µ
â†µIn MVP voting, I place a heavy value on novelty, also known as the "Jordan Discount" -- obviously, Michael Jordan was the best player every year, but MVP voters agreed that novelty matters when giving out the award. (The question is whether voters will look at the fact that Kobe has never won an MVP and agree that qualifies as more novel than giving it to Chris Paul.) â†µâ†µ
â†µKobe was already the best player in the league; CP3 forced himself into the argument for the first time, which is good enough for me (that, and the Hornets' utterly unpredictable jump to join the elite of the West). â†µâ†µ
â†µThe Wake-Up Call NBA MVP Ballot: â†µâ†µ
â†µ1. Chris Paul
â†µ2. Kobe Bryant
â†µ3. LeBron/Kevin Garnett (tie) â†µ
â†µLeave your own pick for NBA MVP -- and your own set of voting criteria -- in the comments section. â†µâ†µ
â†µNBA West: Like some sort of karmic payback for last season's glorious first-round playoff series, the Warriors are out after losing to Phoenix ... The defending champ Spurs are in position to secure the No. 3 spot after a win over the Kings ... The Jazz beat the Rockets in Utah in a preview of a likely first-round playoff match-up; it remains to be seen which team will have home-court advantage. â†µâ†µ
â†µMeanwhile, what impact will Carmelo Anthony's arrest Monday on suspicion of DUI have on the player and the team? â†µâ†µ
â†µThe Warriors' loss was Denver's gain as the Nuggets don't have to worry about being distracted in a must-win Game 82 and instead can deal with this problem before their presumptive first-round meeting with the Lakers. â†µâ†µ
â†µAll I can think is: What was Carmelo thinking? â†µâ†µ
â†µSix Must-Know MLB Storylines: â†µâ†µ
â†µ(1) Randy Johnson's return: 7 Ks in an uneven 5 IP, but no W with the D-backs allowing 5 unearned runs ... â†µâ†µ
â†µ(2) "Ortiz Line:" .104, after Papi put up a 2-for-5 effort in a Red Sox W over the Indians (2 Ks and 2 LOB, though) ... â†µâ†µ
â†µ(3) Zack Greinke: AL's best pitcher this season? So far: Yes! Ran his record to 3-0 with a complete-game win, allowing only 5 H and 1 ER ... â†µâ†µ
â†µ(4) Tigers win first home game of '08, only their third win of the season. Their Six-run 8th to come from behind was promising ... â†µâ†µ
â†µ(5) Nate McLouth: Pirates fantasy sensation extends hit streak to 13 games AND clocks walk-off 3-run HR ... â†µâ†µ
â†µ(6) A-Rod: 15th on the all-time career HR list tying McCovey and the Splendid Splinter. (13 from Jimmie Foxx at 14; 48 from the top 10) â†µâ†µ
â†µMichael Beasley is going pro: More than anything, Beasley makes those claims about Kevin Durant from a year ago -- that he was "once in a generation" -- seem ludicrous. â†µâ†µ
â†µBeasley is the superior player in almost every way -- NBA scouts clearly appreciate his advanced rebounding skill (Durant has averaged a measly 4.2 rebounds per game in his rookie NBA season.) â†µâ†µ
â†µWhere Durant appears to be the next coming of a player like Rashard Lewis, Beasley is closer to the next coming of Dirk Nowitzki. (Hmm: Who would YOU rather have?)
â†µOne Thing to Know from Last Night's NHL Playoffs: The Predators scored two goals within 9 seconds with less than 4 minutes to play to beat Detroit 5-3, avoiding an impossible 0-3 hole in their series. â†µâ†µ
â†µMeanwhile, kudos to the NHL for acting quickly and decisively after Sean Avery's ridiculous (though effective) screening "techniques" against Martin Brodeur on Sunday, now worthy of an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. It's now known as the "Avery Rule," but do you really want to have a rule named after you for that?
â†µThe Last Word: Guess what, Hawks fans? Your team is finally back in the playoffs, one of the more amazing turnarounds of the season; it's not quite the Hornets or Celtics, but fans in Atlanta will presumably take what they can get after suffering through the longest playoff drought in the NBA ('99). 37 wins? Who cares? Playoffs, people!
â†µDan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.