Great quote at the very end by Matt Bullard

WINDERMAN: NBA Sunday column
The winners are ...
Published April 17, 2005


The award is selected by media, with the ballot requiring the listing of five names in order.

This ballot: 1. Shaquille O'Neal, Heat; 2. Steve Nash, Suns; 3. Tim Duncan, Spurs; 4. Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks; 5. Allen Iverson, 76ers.

Reasoning: While a case certainly can be made for Nash, the bottom line is that the point guard left the Mavericks and Dallas still was pretty good this season. By contrast, O'Neal left the Lakers and now the lottery awaits.

While O'Neal hardly produced career stats, if one went solely by numbers, Iverson would rate closer to the top, as would Nowitzki. So so much for that argument.

Also worth considering: Ray Allen, Sonics; Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves; LeBron James, Cavaliers; Amare Stoudemire, Suns; Dwyane Wade, Heat.

2004 winner: Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves.


The award is selected by media, with the ballot requiring the listing of three names in order.

This ballot: 1. Rick Carlisle, Pacers; 2. George Karl, Nuggets; 3. Mike D'Antoni, Suns.

Reasoning: Ron Artest brawled his way to a November conclusion of his season. Suspension and injury took Jermaine O'Neal away for half the schedule. Then there was the time the league mandated Stephen Jackson sit and the foot problems that sidelined Jamaal Tinsley. Through it all, the Pacers go into the final games contending for home-court advantage in the playoffs. Remarkable.

While Karl was around about as much as some of those aforementioned Pacers, he emerged as Coach of the Half Year and a fitting runner-up to Carlisle. In any other year, D'Antoni could have run away with the honor.

Also worth considering: Mike Fratello, Grizzlies; Eddie Jordan, Wizards; Nate McMillan, Sonics; Scott Skiles, Bulls; Stan Van Gundy, Heat.

2004 winner: Hubie Brown, Grizzlies.


The award is selected by media, with the ballot requiring the listing of three names in order.

This ballot: 1. Marcus Camby, Nuggets; 2. Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves; 3. Bruce Bowen, Spurs.

Reasoning: There is a reason George Karl was able to get his team's defense to come around. The reason was Camby. And the reason the Nuggets endured was because Camby endured beyond the usual injury setbacks.

Garnett's rebounding numbers keep him at the top of this field, with the perimeter nod that last season went to Artest this season given to Bowen.

Also worth considering: Tyson Chandler, Bulls; Larry Hughes, Wizards; Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz; Shawn Marion, Suns; Tayshaun Prince, Pistons; Ben Wallace, Pistons.

2004 winner: Ron Artest, Pacers.


The award is selected by media, with the ballot requiring the listing of three names in order.

This ballot: 1. Ben Gordon, Bulls; 2. Emeka Okafor, Bobcats; 3. Dwight Howard, Magic.

Reasoning: Gordon made a difference on a team that made a difference. No, he did not have to toil with an expansion team like Okafor, but the guard helped prevent Chicago from looking like one again.

Okafor certainly had the numbers, but he also had a former UConn teammate, in Gordon, who made more noise. And yes, we agree with the thinking that years from now Howard could mature into the prize of this class.

Also worth considering: Andre Iguodala, 76ers; Josh Smith, Hawks; Beno Udrih, Spurs.

2004 winner: LeBron James, Cavaliers.


The award is selected by media, with the ballot requiring the listing of three names in order.

This ballot: 1. Ben Gordon, Bulls; 2. Vladimir Radmanovic, Sonics; 3. Ricky Davis, Celtics.

Reasoning: No player has produced more double-figure scoring totals in the fourth quarter than the Bulls rookie. He changes the complexion of a game when he enters, which is the definition of the award.

Although injured at the end of the season, Radmanovic provided a spark for a team that relied on its bench to emerge as a contender. Davis has always been a dynamic scorer, but he essentially has played starters' minutes in producing his bench points.

Also worth considering: Earl Boykins, Nuggets; Antonio Daniels, Sonics; Donyell Marshall, Raptors; Antonio McDyess, Pistons; Jerry Stackhouse, Mavericks; Wally Szczerbiak, Timberwolves.

2004 winner: Antawn Jamison, Mavericks.


The award is selected by general managers, with the ballot requiring the listing of a single name (since we're not a GM, we'll list our top three).

This ballot: 1. Pat Riley, Miami; 2. Bryan Colangelo, Suns; 3. John Paxson, Bulls.

Reasoning: Riley traded for Shaquille O'Neal without giving up his best player, Dwyane Wade. Enough said.

Had Shaq not been dealt by the Lakers, then Colangelo would have been hailed for the heists of Nash and Quentin Richardson, as well as the canny additions of Jim Jackson and Walter McCarty. Only such thefts shut out Paxson from cashing in on the drafting of Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Chris Duhon, as well as the signing of Andres Nocioni, and the perseverance to retain his other young players.

Also worth considering: R.C. Buford, Spurs; Carroll Dawson, Rockets; Ernie Grunfeld, Wizards.

2004 winner: Jerry West, Memphis.


The award is selected by media, with the ballot requiring the listing of three names in order.

This ballot: 1. Bobby Simmons, Clippers; 2. Dwyane Wade, Heat; 3. Tayshaun Prince, Pistons.

Reasoning: While it could be argued that Wade, or even LeBron James, made the most difficult of strides, from star to superstar, this award generally has gone to players who emerged from obscurity.

In that respect, Simmons makes more sense in the lineage of previous winners Pervis Ellison, Ike Austin, Alan Henderson and Darrell Armstrong.

The irony is that this originally was the Comeback Player award, in which case we might have made an argument for Reggie Miller.

Also worth considering: Chris Bosh, Raptors; Primoz Brezec, Bobcats; Dan Dickau, Hornets; LeBron James, Cavaliers; Joel Pryzbilla, Trail Blazers; Amare Stoudemire, Suns.

2004 winner: Zach Randolph, Blazers.


This award is selected by media, with the ballot requiring three, position-specific teams.

First team: G Steve Nash, Suns; G Allen Iverson, 76ers; F Tim Duncan, Spurs; F Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks; C Shaquille O'Neal, Heat.

Second team: G Dwyane Wade, Heat; G Kobe Bryant, Lakers; F Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves; F Ben Wallace, Pistons; C Amare Stoudemire, Suns.

Third team: G Gilbert Arenas, Wizards; G Ray Allen, Sonics; F LeBron James, Cavaliers; F Shawn Marion, Suns; C Marcus Camby, Nuggets.

Also worth considering: F Vince Carter, Nets; F Rashard Lewis, Sonics; F Tracy McGrady, Rockets; G Paul Pierce, Celtics; C Yao Ming, Rockets.


The award is selected by coaches, with the ballot requiring two, non-position-specific teams.

First team: G Ben Gordon, Bulls; F Emeka Okafor, Bobcats; F Dwight Howard, Magic; F Andre Iguodala, 76ers; G Josh Smith, Hawks.

Second Team: G Beno Udrih, Spurs; G J.R. Smith, Hornets; F Luol Deng, Bulls; F Al Jefferson, Celtics; C Nenad Krstic, Nets.

Also worth considering: G Tony Allen, Celtics; F Matt Bonner, Raptors; G Josh Childress, Hawks; G Chris Duhon, Bulls; G Jameer Nelson, Magic; F Andres Nocioni, Bulls; F Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers.


The award is selected by coaches, with the ballot requiring two, position-specific teams.

First team: G Bruce Bowen, Spurs; G Larry Hughes, Wizards; F Shawn Marion, Suns; F Ben Wallace, Pistons; C Marcus Camby, Nuggets.

Second team: G Kobe Bryant, Lakers; G Dwyane Wade, Heat; F Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves; F Tayshaun Prince, Pistons; C Tim Duncan, Spurs.

In the Lane

MOVING ON? For those who forget, the trading period resumes at season's end for teams out of the playoffs. Other teams are allowed to make moves once they are eliminated. Among those who could be on the move (either during the trading period or through free agency, which starts July 1):

Timberwolves guards Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell, who last week were termed a "failed experiment" by owner Glen Taylor. Sprewell is a free agent, while Cassell said the owner's words cut so deep that he couldn't envision returning, although, with $6.1 million due next season from the 'Wolves, that decision does not rest with Cassell.

Magic guard Doug Christie, who, like former Magic forward Tracy McGrady, said differences with General Manager John Weisbrod make an enduring relationship "extremely difficult." Christie has one season left on his contract, at $8.2 million, with Weisbrod insisting the guard isn't going anywhere.

Blazers guard Nick Van Exel, who now is not so sure he wants to retire. Van Exel is due a non-guaranteed $12.7 million for next season, meaning Portland can wait on a decision with the guard until training camp, or use him as a salary-cap chip. "I want a chance to be on a playoff-contending team," Van Exel, 33, said.

Warriors forward Nokoloz Tskitishvili, whose midseason trade from Denver to Golden State did not result in a reprieve from the end of the bench. At 22, Tskitishvili said he might bypass free agency to return to Europe. "I don't want to get old and not [have] any experience," he said.

Pistons forward Carlos Delfino, who told the Argentine newspaper Clarin that his relationship with coach Larry Brown had grown so fractured that he recently considered returning home. The Olympic standout has two years at $2 million left guaranteed on his rookie-scale contract.

Knicks forward Kurt Thomas, who is due $22 million over the next three seasons and nearly was dealt to Cleveland in February. "I've been a Knick for seven years and almost every year my name has come up in trade talks," the former Heat forward said.

NO, NO NOCIONI: Four games after being labeled a "punk" by Heat coach Stan Van Gundy for his takedown of Dwyane Wade, Chicago forward Andres Nocioni was suspended one game after being chastised by Pistons coach Larry Brown for a hard foul on Tayshaun Prince. To the Bulls, it is a case of the NBA taking a cue from the power franchises. "They're listening to elite teams in the league and we end up getting hurt because of it," General Manager John Paxson said. "I think it's a compliment to Andres that teams are frustrated by how he competes. If the lead teams or star players complain, the league tends to listen."

TOUGH GUY, TOO: Then there's Utah rookie forward Kirk Snyder, who last week was suspended one game for a postgame scrap beneath the stands in Dallas with Mavericks guard Jerry Stackhouse. While most viewed Stackhouse as the aggressor, it is at least the third incident involving Snyder, who kicked at Heat forward Rasual Butler during one game and confronted the Rockets' bench during another. Before the latest incident, Stackhouse complained to the referees that Snyder was intentionally throwing elbows.

LAKER LINEAGE: With his team at the bottom of the Western Conference, Hornets coach Byron Scott said he has been able to persevere through the assurances of Heat President Pat Riley, his former Lakers coach. "He sent me a letter a couple of months ago about hanging in there and persevering," said Scott, who met with Riley last week in Los Angeles during a reunion of the Lakers' 1985 title team. "I have a pipeline to maybe the best coach to have ever coached this game. There are not a lot of people who can say that."

STILL TALKING: Having talked his way out of South Florida, former Heat forward Wesley Person now is making noise in Denver, saying his Nuggets would welcome a playoff series against the Sonics. "It would be nice to play Seattle because they haven't had the success that San Antonio has had in the playoffs the last few years," Person said. ... As it is, the Sonics hardly are enamored of the Nuggets, at least not after Denver coach George Karl spent part of a recent game holding an infant while working on the sidelines. The Nuggets' mascot had handed the child to an unsuspecting Karl, who nonetheless was criticized. "We're going to bring our babies out next time," Sonics forward Reggie Evans said. ... Former University of Utah coach and ESPN analyst Rick Majerus has joined the Nuggets as an unpaid consultant to Karl.

HEATED ISSUES: Former Heat assistant coach Marc Iavaroni, now a Suns assistant, has been linked to the Blazers' coaching vacancy. ... Former Heat television analyst Mike Fratello continues to endure turbulent times in Memphis, with guards Jason Williams and Bonzi Wells both calling out their coach over the past week for what they considered ill-timed removal from games.

DOWN ... OUT?: With San Antonio big men Tim Duncan and Rasho Nesterovic having missed time because of injury, the Spurs are considering loading their playoff roster with reserve big men. The inclusion of Robert Horry, Nazr Mohammed and Tony Massenburg on the playoff roster could come at the cost of a spot for rookie point guard Beno Udrih. ... The Kings plan to have center Brad Miller and guard Bobby Jackson on their playoff roster, but questions remain about whether either will be healthy in time.

By The Numbers

23 -- Career 4-point plays (3-pointer, free throw) by Pacers guard Reggie Miller, with retired guard Michael Adams second on the all-time list at 11. Miller had his latest last week against the Nets.

4 -- Stitches Rockets center Yao Ming required to his chin after taking a blow in the third quarter of Monday's victory over Seattle.

4 -- Stitches Yao had removed a day earlier from his chin from a cut he sustained against Phoenix a week earlier.

.387 -- Career winning percentage of NBA coaches who played collegiately under Bob Knight (Isiah Thomas, Butch Carter, Randy Wittman, Keith Smart, Quinn Buckner and current Hawks coach Mike Woodson, whose team has the NBA's worst record).

24 -- Couples married Monday during halftime of Dallas' home game against Memphis. The plans were for 25 couples to take part in the team's 25th anniversary, but cold feet left the team one couple short.

The List

With the Heat uneven in recent weeks, a look at how recent NBA champions fared down the stretch of their title seasons:

Season, Champion, Last 10, Last 15, Last 20

2003-04, Pistons, 8-2, 12-3, 16-4
2002-03, Spurs, 8-2, 12-3, 16-4
2001-02, Lakers, 7-3, 11-4, 14-6
2000-01, Lakers, 9-1, 11-4, 15-5
1999-00, Lakers, 7-3, 12-3, 16-4

They Said It

"I'm not Steve Nash. I'm not going to get you 22 assists." -- Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas, after scoring a career-high 44 points in a loss to the 76ers, with only three assists.

"You have to give them the ball and let them feel good about themselves." -- Arenas, after closing with a season-high 13 assists the following game, in a victory over the Bucks, while attempting only nine shots.

"I gave up my body to science, at least to the Amare Stoudemire Foundation." -- Warriors center Adonal Foyle, after twice yielding showcase dunks to the Suns center.

"Our goal was to get as many wins as possible and not be the worst team in the NBA." -- Bobcats guard Brevin Knight, whose team beat Atlanta twice last week to hand the Hawks that distinction.

"If they want him, I'm going to back him. If they go with somebody else, I'm going to back who they pick." -- Knicks guard Stephon Marbury, offering a less-than-ringing endorsement for interim coach Herb Williams.

"Working on ESPN with Stephen A. Smith would have been a nightmare." -- Former Rockets forward Matt Bullard, on emerging as a loser on ESPN's Dream Job.