Winderman: Playoffs should count toward post-season awards

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Every year the process feels dirty, for some reason this season more so than others.

Why, exactly, do NBA award ballots have to be in to the league office by Thursday?

Why can’t the playoffs count, especially since many consider those the only games that matter, anyway?

This isn’t baseball, when you play a six-month regular season and a one-month postseason. This is a sport where the postseason lasts two months, roughly a quarter of the overall process.

Yes, we appreciate that the postseason is exclusionary, not everyone makes it.

But most do, 16 of 30 teams. (Also known as the only teams we care about, anyway.)

More to the point, virtually every voter factors in winning, with most making it a primary component. The most meaningful winning comes now.

Granted, it would be unfair with some ballots. So keep an end-of-the-regular-season deadline for Rookie of the Year, since leading candidates are drafted by dreadful teams. (But wouldn’t the view on Landry Fields or Gary Neal change with a solid postseason?)

David Stern’s response to this has been that the NBA already has an award for the postseason, namely MVP of the Finals. But that is just for one series, not for all four rounds.

And while it would delay the ceremonies, remove those lavish pregame presentations during the playoffs, Major League Baseball has done just fine doling out its hardware as late as Thanksgiving. And the NHL captures Canada’s collective attention with their postseason awards gala.

Heck, July announcements this offseason would take some of the gloom off the lockout.

If Derrick Rose goes out in the second round to Orlando and LeBron and Kobe and Dwight play on, will this season truly be remembered for Rose’s breakout?

If Chris Paul stirs up playoff magic, will there be second-guessing over the All-NBA first team?

Thursday is too early of a deadline. And this is not like those mayoral recalls sweeping the nation. No second chances here to make things right.

This is one and done. Even if the process gets done too early.

In the NBA, true MVPs aren’t the ones at the top of ballots in mid April.

They’re the ones standing in mid June.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.