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Kyrie Irving on confidence level with Celtics: ‘Next question’ (VIDEO)

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Kyrie Irving doesn’t seem very happy with the Boston Celtics. The team is a disappointment, and currently stands fifth in the Eastern Conference amid a four-game losing streak.

Irving has had several headline-grabbing quotes over the course of the season, the most recent coming in response to what Marcus Smart told reporters after a loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Boston lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, and Irving again showed how testy he can be with the media. A reporter asked Irving what his confidence level was with the team, and Irving responded by acting as though the question was unfair.

Via Twitter:

Reporter: “What’s your confidence level in the team going forward?”

Irving: “What do you mean? What kind of question is that?”

Reporter: “A legitimate one.”

Irving “Nah. Next question.”

This of course is a completely normal question. It holds no discernible difference from the other types of basic, open-ended, quote-producing questions reporters ask of Irving on any given night.

In fact, the majority of regular season post-game questions are perfunctory in any case — often met with similarly bland answers — where the resulting platitudes are only of interest based on how well-practiced the athlete is in reciting them.

Who knows how or why Irving interpreted this innocuous inquiry the way he did? It’s clear that Irving didn’t like this question. It could be contextual within his relationship with the reporter, it could be that he’s simply sick of losing, or it could be that the true answer isn’t something he wants to give. But the question, at its core, is perfectly fair (if not a little boring).

If you wanted to wade into the pool of conjecture, Irving could have potentially seen the question as an invitation to profess his confidence that the team would get back on track as a show of leadership. Perhaps it was his chance to finally take the reigns of this whole “I want my own team” thing? Players have done more with less.

I’m not going to go too far into this without a life jacket, but the idea that Irving is “weird” or “quirky” or “off-beat” is simply wearing thin. It feels as though Irving’s commentary, particularly since his Flat Earth remarks, are built on creating a media frenzy around him to raise his Q rating. If it’s a marketing strategy, it’s a transparent one and one that isn’t endearing, especially when the end result is a 103-minute Pepsi commercial.

Nobody can blame Irving for being bummed about what’s happening in Boston, but acting as though “What’s your confidence level?” is some unfair question is an opinion projected in such bad faith I can’t take it or Irving seriously.

Plus, we all know the answer: it’s low.

The Greek Freak has arrived, Giannis Antetokounmpo wins NBA MVP

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Mike Budenholzer came in with a plan — an offense built around the fact no one man on the planet can guard Giannis Antetokounmpo.

It worked. The Bucks won 60 games and had the best record in the NBA. Budenholzer picked up Coach of the Year hardware for his efforts.

Now Antetokounmpo has won the NBA MVP award, edging out James Harden (who chose not to attend the NBA’s awards show in Los Angeles Monday). He was emotional in thanking teammates and family for helping him reach this point.

Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds a game, but it was his ability to destroy any defender one-on-one that made the Bucks offense work. Either the Greek Freak got to the basket and finished, he drew a foul, or he drew so much attention the shooters that surrounded him on the floor had clean looks of their own. He also was the Bucks best defender, a guy tasked with tough assignments nightly.

Antetokounmpo was the best player on the best team.

James Harden — who averaged 36.1 points, 7.5 assists, and 6.6 rebounds per game — finished second in the voting, Paul George of Oklahoma City was third. Harden has finished first or second in the voting for four of the past five seasons. Harden believed he deserved to win.

The last player from Europe to win the MVP award was Dirk Nowitzki in 2007.

 

Rudy Gobert wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year for second straight season

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Rudy Gobert owns the paint for the Utah Jazz.

And he owns the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Gobert won his second straight DPOY award Monday night, beating out the other 2019 finalists Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George.

The Jazz had the second best defense in the regular season and it is completely built around Gobert and his abilities in the paint, which is what separated him for this award. Utah’s defense was 20.1 points per 100 possessions better when Gobert was on the court and gave up less than a point per possession with him as the anchor.

This was a deep field with players such as Myles Turner of the Pacers, Joel Embiid of the 76ers and others getting votes as well.

Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer named NBA Coach of the Year

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Mike Budenholzer unleashed Giannis Antetokounmpo and from the start that made him the Coach of the Year favorite (and maybe Antetokounmpo MVP).

It was a wire-to-wire win for Budenholzer, who was the frontrunner for this award from early on and was named the NBA Coach of the Year Monday night, the second time he has won this award (Atlanta in 2015).

Budenholzer was the favorite with good reason. The Bucks won 16 more games than the season before and had the best record in the NBA, they improved their net rating by +10.1, and became a top-five team on both ends of the floor. To be fair, part of Budenholzer’s success was a contrast to how poorly the previous coach handled this roster, but give Budenholzer credit for utilizing players well.

He beat out Doc Rivers of the Clippers and Mike Malone of the Nuggets in what was a very deep field for this award.

Clippers’ Lou Williams won second-straight, third overall Sixth Man of Year Award

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The Clippers bench play this season was the reason they made the playoffs (and pushed the Warriors to six games in the first round). Montrezl Harrell blossomed into his own as part of that.

However, it was Lou Williams who made it all work, which is why he won his second straight (and third overall) Sixth Man of the Year Award on Monday night. He garnered 96 of the 100 first-place votes.

Williams spoke from the heart about second chances and his faith in himself.

“Four years ago, I thought I was done, like I was coming to the end of my career,” Williams said.

Williams averaged 20 points a game and he is still one of the better bucket getters in the NBA, an isolation master. What he did better this year, however, was playmaking, dishing out 5.4 assists per game. His teammate Montrezl Harrell — the NBA’s best energy big off the bench last season who finished third in the Sixth Man voting — was the biggest beneficiary of those passes.

Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis came in second in the voting, with Spencer Dinwiddie of the Nets third and Terrence Ross of Orlando fifth. Here is the voting breakdown.