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The Suns' Steve Nash or the Miami Heat's Shaquille O'Neal will win the NBA's Most Valuable Player award, to be announced next week.
The race for the NBA's 50th MVP is too close to call. The Republic surveyed 104 of the 127 writers and broadcasters with MVP votes and found that Nash and O'Neal each received 51 first-place votes. Amare Stoudemire of the Suns and Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs received the other two.
Based upon the 10-7-5-3-1 points system (10 points for a first-place vote, seven for second, etc.), Nash holds an 875-869 lead over O'Neal. When the announcement comes (likely Tuesday or Wednesday), it could produce the smallest margin ever between the winner and runner-up. Since writers took over the voting from players in 1981, the tightest races were when Magic Johnson edged Charles Barkley by 22 points in 1990 - despite Barkley having 11 more first-place votes - and when Karl Malone edged Michael Jordan by 29 in 1997.
For the sake of Nash's chances, it is a good thing his opinion won't count. Nash believes O'Neal should get the award.
Nash would be the first point guard to win the award since Magic Johnson's 1990 victory and only the sixth guard overall.
Nash has edged Miami center Shaquille O'Neal to become just the fourth point in MVP history to win the league's highest individual honor, according to sources familiar with the results. The others are Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Bob Cousy.
Dan LeBatard, Miami Herald, Sunday May 9, 2005
Unprecedented choice for MVP begs question
How much of this has to do with race?
Or ''zero,'' as Miami Heat president Pat Riley said before the little white guy beat the big black guy for MVP?
I don't pretend to know these answers. There is no good way to do these measurements with science or math. And I, too, am tired of seeing racism thrown like a Molotov cocktail into discussions where racism doesn't exist.
But don't you have to ask these questions when confronted with something unprecedented?
Or do we just continue laughing and making noise at our playoff cocktail party while ignoring the pinkish elephant standing in the middle of the room in a Nash jersey?
No one who looks or plays like Steve Nash has ever been basketball's MVP. Ever. In the history of the award, a tiny, one-dimensional point guard who plays no defense and averages fewer than 16 points a game never has won it. But Nash just stole Shaquille O'Neal's trophy, even though O'Neal had much better numbers than Nash in just about every individual statistical measurement except assists, so it begs the question:
Is this as black and white as the boxscores that usually decide these things?
Nobody is suggesting voters made their selection while wearing Klan hoods. Today's racism rarely is that overt. It tends to be hidden better than that, as it is with the NBA's proposed age restriction, a rule that would ostensibly affect all creeds and colors but really affects only one.
Does that mean commissioner David Stern is racist? Of course not. But, in that age restriction, he is proposing something that basically affects only black people until the age of 20.
And you can see why blacks might see the prejudice in that, just like Jews might object if there was suddenly a $2,000 tax placed on all flights to Israel.
The rule might apply to everyone flying to Israel, but one group is more likely to see and feel the anti-Semitism in it more than others.
Does it mean that a prejudice exists? Maybe. Maybe not. There are usually other valid explanations, too. But if only one group feels it, it might as well exist. And that's where this MVP discussion gets tricky:
Voters might have simply chosen Nash because he was different and the underdog. And being white is part of what made him those things.
After unleashing the Phoenix Suns to a frenetic pace and guiding them to a league-best 62 wins, Mike D'Antoni is the NBA's coach of the year, according to several sources.