Mavs, Nash stand out at break

first_imgThe best answer to that is “tradition,” although “revenue” is actually the more accurate answer. With all of the teams having completed at least 50 games of their 82-game schedule, we can gleam a lot about this season so far, although some pronouncements made earlier in the season, such as “There is no way Miami is repeating!” might not be no-doubt-about-it, take-it-to-the-bank true. Photos NBA All Star “It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon.” Those words were said to me by not one, but three NBA-ers during the first half of the season. Dwyane Wade, Cavaliers coach Mike Brown and Sam Cassell all made that point – in those words – and if indeed the NBA season is a marathon, then why are 82 regular-season games necessary before the most fun – the postseason – comes? As far as the individual stuff, here is a look at what the NBA’s awards should be, if they were handed out this weekend in Las Vegas. Most Valuable Player: Steve Nash My initial feeling when he won the MVP two years ago was that it was a borderline pick with Shaquille O’Neal still dominating the game. With Phoenix struggling horribly with Nash out with a shoulder injury, his worth is being underscored, and he could become the first player since Larry Bird in 1985-86 to win the award three times in a row. LeBron James might be the best overall player in the league, and Kobe Bryant is the best competitor/closer. But Nash is the MVP. Coach of the Year: Avery Johnson There are a lot of ways to look at this award, but the fact that the Mavs have such a great record and Johnson righted them after their poor start when they were ripe to implode makes him the choice. Another way to look at the award is who has made the most with the least — and that might be Jeff Van Gundy in Houston. The Rockets lost Yao Ming for 25 games and Tracy McGrady for eight games, and they are holding steady as the top-ranked defensive team in the league. Rookie of the Year: Brandon Roy The Portland Trail Blazers guard would have been an easy pick, but he missed 20 games due to injury. Still, he averages a rookie-high 14.6 points per game with no other rookie close to his production. Defensive Player of the Year: Kevin Garnett This is a wide-open category, and Garnett gets the nod because his defense often goes underrated. He is an athletic wonder, who rebounds, blocks shots and gets steals. The only problem is that Minnesota probably isn’t going anywhere this season, and that’s happened too much in Garnett’s career. Sixth Man of the Year: Leandro Barbosa Barbosa probably is the fastest player in the league, and his production – 16.8 points per game – is just too high to overlook as the best sixth man. Plus, as such a speedy guard, he is a bear to guard by anybody, especially other reserves. Most Improved Player: Josh Howard Sacramento’s Kevin Martin has made bigger leaps statistically than Dallas’ Josh Howard, but the Kings haven’t made any leaps at all. J-Ho got on the All-Star team, although that’s a borderline pick in the loaded Western Conference, but he and his 19.3 points and 7.3 rebounds have been huge to the Mavs. Out and aboutA lot of talk this week has been about John Amaechi becoming the first former NBA player to come out of the closet. However, I’ve realized that beyond that fact, not a lot of people know that much about Amaechi and his story. Excerpts from “Man in the Middle” by Amaechi on ESPN.com are enlightening, entertaining and well-written. He makes a lot of strong points in the book, including the antigay sentiment of players in the league. “Over time, I realized their antigay prejudice was more a convention of a particular brand of masculinity,” Amaechi writes. “Homophobia is a ballplayer posture, akin to donning a ‘game face,’ wearing flashy jewelry or driving the perfect black Escalade.” Amaechi, who was the first player raised in Great Britain to play in the NBA, also has written some funny excerpts about nearly coming out late in his career. “Every time I did something eccentric, like bringing my fabulously flaming friends to games, people would quip, ‘Oh, he’s just English. Leave him alone.”‘ The fact that Amaechi was coming out was first reported by Outsports.com, which was co-founded by former Press-Telegram sports editor Jim Buzinski. A shameAmaechi’s outing has spurred a national debate on gay rights, and that could be positive. However, Tim Hardaway’s antigay comments also got a lot of play this week. Those comments were full of hate and were a shame. In case you missed it, Hardaway said, “I hate gay people, so let it be known. I don’t like gay people, and I don’t like to be around gay people. I’m homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the United States.” Commissioner David Stern responded in a fast and smart way, banning Hardaway from All-Star weekend. Hardaway was scheduled to make several public appearances on behalf of the league. Mr. Style Roscoe Nance deserves credit for an illuminating story in USA Today on Cleveland Cavaliers shooter/fashion star Damon Jones. Jones says he owns 450 suits and 150 pairs of shoes and claims to not only be the best shooter in the world, but the best dresser in the NBA. As for the keys to being a well-dressed man, Jones says to avoid mismatching belts and shoes and wearing oversized clothes. He added, “The biggest fashion mistake is trying to reach my level. “That cannot and will not happen. No one will ever be able to put clothes on the way I do.” Joe Stevens can be reached at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img Miami sure doesn’t look like it will repeat, but if the Heat and a healthy Shaquille O’Neal make it to the playoffs as any seed, they will have a reasonable chance to get through the weak Eastern Conference. Hardly anything is ever a certainty in this league, and that was shown in last season’s playoffs. In hindsight, many will say they expected Dallas to win Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals in San Antonio. Many also will say they expected Detroit to fall to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals. But hardly anybody was talking about Miami as a title contender during last year’s regular season, and though that Dallas/San Antonio series was as wacky as can be, it’s hard to bet against a home team in a Game 7. Anyway, the biggest thing that we’ve seen this season is that, yes, Dallas is darn good. The Mavericks stand at 44-9, and this came after an 0-4 start. They are the obvious favorite to win the NBA title, but getting through the ridiculously tough Western Conference is no gimme. Plus, if Dirk Nowitzki goes down, the Mavs will be done. last_img read more

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Award’s for more than job on fires

first_imgSIMI VALLEY – The Ventura County Fire Department chose Steve Kaufmann as Battalion 4’s Firefighter of the Year for more than just the lifesaving work he does on the job. Kaufmann has been active for years while off duty, raising money for charities, including the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Casa Pacifica home for abused children, the Make-A-Wish Foundation for children with life-threatening medical conditions and the Spark of Love toy drive for needy children. He also helped the county’s firefighters raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the families of firefighters who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Kaufmann, 38, grew up in Simi Valley and lives in Pasadena, where he is a member of the Tournament of Roses Association. He has also been a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Kaufmann has been a firefighter since 1996 and has worked for Ventura County since 1998. One of the major projects he and other local firefighters contribute to is the Fill the Boot campaign to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Firefighters across the nation have raised nearly $275 million since 1954 in this campaign. Just last December, Ventura County firefighters raised $26,000 for the effort. “I’m in a position (as a firefighter) where I see a lot of terrible things,” Kaufmann said. “It’s nice to be in a position where I can do something positive for somebody less fortunate.” Capt. Chris Johnston, who worked with Kaufmann for three years on the same firetruck in Thousand Oaks, said he was a good choice for the honor, which was bestowed Wednesday at an awards luncheon in Camarillo. “He’s extremely intelligent. He can analyze a problem and solve it fast,” Johnston said. “He’s always right in the middle of things, and he’s always been doing the fundraising, especially for the kids.” [email protected] (805) 583-7602160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “I’m just honored to be a firefighter and to serve the community, and I like to put the Fire Department in a good light in a different perspective than when the bell rings,” he said. “Charity is a way to give back to the community when I’m off duty.” Capt. Chris Mahon, president of the Ventura County Professional Firefighters union, said he has worked with Kaufmann for 10 years, at times fighting fires and at times with the union, for which Kaufmann is the charities director. “Every year he buys toys for families at shelters for the needy. He just really goes above and beyond to organize activities that bring a lot of help for people,” Mahon said. “He has done a tremendous amount of work to help the community through charity work.” Mahon recalled how Kaufmann coordinated several charity events in Ventura County that raised $450,000 to help the families of the fallen New York firefighters. “He’s energetic. He’s capable. He takes it to another level, the whole idea of public service,” Mahon said. last_img read more

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