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ISSUE 116 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 5/2/2003

KG4MVP: Not this year

By Ken Foote
Sports Editor

Friday, May 2, 2003

It is once again time for the great MVP debate in the NBA. This year it appears to be a battle of the initials with hometown favorite Kevin Garnett (KG), Orlando’s Tracy McGrady (T-Mac) and the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (Co-B?) as the top three prospects.

KG has been dubbed the front runner because he is arguably the most versatile player in the league. He finished ninth in the NBA in scoring, second in rebounding and was tops in assists among big men while ranking 13th overall. For good measure he led the league with 68 double doubles and six triple doubles while guarding everyone from Allen Iverson to Shaq.

T-Mac gets his pub from leading the league in scoring with the highest average, 32.1, since the bald guy from North Carolina’s nightly output was 32.6 points per contest in 1992, despite facing constant double and triple teams. He has carried his team into the playoffs and has them one win away from sending the top ranked Detroit Pistons home for the summer, all without a consistent second scoring option.

Kobe’s credentials stem from his 30 points per game average and his reputation as the most complete player in the game today. Along with Shaq, Kobe led the Lakers back from a poor start to finish fifth in the Western Conference and within one win of preventing KG’s Timberwolves from advancing past the first round for the seventh straight year. Kobe also recorded an historic scoring binge, averaging 40 points per night for the entire month of February and scoring 40 or more points in nine straight games, tying the record set by His Airness in the late eighties.

So who deserves this most prestigious of awards? That depends on the definition of most valuable player. Is it the player that is most valuable to his team? The league? The universe?

In the nineties the decision was easy. Give it to Michael Jordan, the game’s permanent player, four times and sprinkle in hall of famers Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and David Robinson. Now, without a clear-cut top dog, the decision becomes difficult.

Alex Rodriguez did not win the MVP award despite being baseball’s best overall player. Bryant is the best player in basketball, but that does not mean he is the most valuable. Shaq could carry the Lakers into the playoffs and maybe even win a championship without the star two guard. It is hard to penalize Kobe for having a gifted teammate, but until Shaq takes a subordinate role or Kobe posts out of this world results, he will not win the MVP award.

It all comes down to T-Mac and KG. Both are their respective team’s best players. However, the only difference is that the Magic has no supporting cast. KG has sharpshooter Wally Szczerbiak and emerging center Rasho Nesterovic. T-Mac has Darrell Armstrong and the obese version of Shawn Kemp.

Sorry, Minnesota fans; T-Mac is the most valuable player. He carried his injury-ridden team into the playoffs while Garnett carried his to yet another first round exit.

Congratulations T-Mac; let’s hope you get a little help next Christmas and don’t need to be the MVP just to get your team the eighth seed in the parody-ridden Eastern Conference.

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