Lebron James, Kevin Durant

2014 PBT Awards: Most Valuable Player


Though none of us have a ballot for the NBA’s official awards, we’ll be presenting our choices and making our cases this week for each major honor.

Kurt Helin

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

2. LeBron James, Miami Heat

3. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

4. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

5. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

One and two are pretty clear cut (even if you want to flip the order, I don’t because I think Durant played at his peak longer and meant more to his team this season). Then it got hard — leaving off Dirk Nowitzki and Al Jefferson was brutal.

Brett Pollakoff

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

2. LeBron James, Miami Heat

3. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

4. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

5. James Harden, Houston Rockets

LeBron is still the game’s best overall player, and few would dispute that. But Durant’s consistent and elite scoring all season long for a Thunder team that finished with 59 wins gets him the award this season. Griffin elevated his game and kept the Clippers winning while Chris Paul missed time with an injury, which gave him the slight nod over Noah on my nonexistent ballot.

Dan Feldman

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

2. LeBron James, Miami Heat

3. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

4. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

5. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves

I hate, hate, hate voter fatigue. If LeBron James has the best season every year, he deserves MVP every year. So, I’m especially wary of the hot candidate with the better narrative trying to unseat the favorite. But Durant had a better season than LeBron, and while LeBron is still great, Durant did enough to ensure I won’t regret choosing him. Where the race gets interesting: No. 3. Curry is an offensive star and good defender in the Warriors’ system.  Chris Paul is the Clippers’ best player, but he missed too much time, and when he did, Griffin was awesome. Love rates No. 3 in many advanced stats, but he too often chooses to go for rebounds rather than defend his man responsibly. It’s a small, and sometimes overblown, problem, but it’s enough to drop him a couple spots on this list.

Raptors unveil updated court design

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Several teams have updated their court designs this offseason, including the Bulls, Nuggets, Bucks and Hawks. The Raptors are the latest team to update their floor, to go along with a new logo and uniforms. Here’s what the Air Canada Centre will look like this season:

It features their new claw/basketball logo at center court and the font on their new uniforms at the baselines. The “We The North” along the sideline is a nice touch, too. Overall, the Raptors have done an excellent job with their rebrand, just in time for All-Star Weekend to be hosted in Toronto for the first time.

Former UCLA, NBA player Dave Meyers dies at 62

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Dave Meyers, the star forward who led UCLA to the 1975 NCAA basketball championship as the lone senior in coach John Wooden’s final season and later played for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, died Friday. He was 62.

Meyers died at his home in Temecula after struggling with cancer for the last year, according to UCLA, which received the news from his younger sister, Ann Meyers Drysdale.

He played four years for Milwaukee after being drafted second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers. Shortly after, Meyers was part of a blockbuster trade that sent him to the Bucks in exchange for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The 6-foot-8 Meyers led UCLA in scoring at 18.3 points and rebounding at 7.9 in his final season, helping the Bruins to a 28-3 record. He had 24 points and 11 rebounds in their 92-85 victory over Kentucky in the NCAA title game played in his hometown of San Diego.

Meyers Drysdale also played at UCLA during her Hall of Fame career.

Meyers assumed the Bruins’ leadership role during the 1974-75 season after Bill Walton and Jamaal Wilkes had graduated. Playing with sophomores Marques Johnson and Richard Washington, Meyers earned consensus All-America honors. Meyers made the cover of Sports Illustrated after the Bruins won the NCAA title.

“One of the true warriors in (at)UCLAMBB history has gone on to glory,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “Dave Meyers was our Captain in `75 and as tenacious a player ever. RIP.”

Johnson recalled in other tweets how Meyers called him `MJB’ or Marques Johnson Baby when he was a freshman, and later in the NBA, Meyers was nicknamed “Crash” because he always diving on the floor for loose balls.

As a junior, Meyers started on a front line featuring future Hall of Famers Walton and Wilkes.

Meyers was a reserve as a sophomore on the Bruins’ 1973 NCAA title team during the school’s run of 10 national titles in 12 years under Wooden. The team went 30-0 and capped the season by beating Memphis 87-66 in the championship game, when Meyers had four points and three rebounds.

In 1975, Meyers, along with Elmore Smith, Junior Bridgeman and Brian Winters, was traded to Milwaukee for Abdul-Jabbar and Walt Wesley.

During the 1977-78 season, Meyers was reunited with Johnson on the Bucks and averaged a career-best 14.7 points. He missed the next year with a back injury. Meyers returned in 1979-80 to average 12.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in helping the Bucks win a division title.

Born David William Meyers, he was one of 11 children. His father, Bob, was a standout basketball player and team captain at Marquette in the 1940s. The younger Meyers averaged 22.7 points as a senior at Sonora High in La Habra, California.

Meyers made a surprise announcement in 1980 that he was retiring from basketball to spend more time with his family. He later earned his teaching certificate and taught sixth grade for several years in Lake Elsinore, California.

He is survived by his wife, Linda, whom he married in 1975, and daughter Crystal and son Sean.