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May 9, 2013

WALK TALK: LeBron’s near unanimous MVP and another hoax

1 LeBron James became the first player since 2000 to receive every vote but one while being named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. It was his fourth MVP award, and it surely won’t be his last. The one thing I question in all this is the person who didn’t vote for James — The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn. As I said here in February — back when he was scoring 30 points and making 60 percent of his shots every night — his winning the award was a lock. Washburn’s excuse is that the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony “meant more to this team” this season. He stopped LJ from becoming the first ever unanimous NBA MVP.

2 There was one great thing to come of Washburn selecting Anthony for MVP. Rumors started that Miami journalist Dan Le Batard picked Anthony, and in response, he trolled the Twittersphere by not denying those claims. And Deadspin — which was the first to report that the girlfriend of Manti Te’o didn’t exist — was one of the first to report Le Batard’s “vote.” The website has since retracted that story. Better yet, Le Batard doesn’t even hold an NBA MVP vote. Te’o, Lance Armstrong, false initial reports on Boston Marathon bombing suspects captured and now the Le Batard/LeBron story — the year of the hoax continues.

3 Let’s get back to Anthony, though. The way he’s played lately, he doesn’t even deserve that lone MVP vote. He shot 10-of-28 from the field during New York’s Game 1 loss to Indiana on Sunday. That’s 18 misses in one game. By comparison, James missed 22 shots during Miami’s first-round sweep of Milwaukee. Anthony was 35-for-110 over his last four games, and the Knicks were 1-3 during that span. People try to treat the NBA like it’s a team game, but we all know the Knicks are going nowhere if Carmelo keeps shooting 32 percent.

4 Many people who are deeply religious, and that’s great. But when God continuously comes up after sporting events, it becomes a bit tiresome. How did Kevin Durant make the game-winning shot on Sunday? “... By the grace of God, it went in,” he said afterward. Golden State coach Mark Jackson said “Nothing but God” when asked how his team pulled out the victory in the fourth quarter to eliminate the Clippers a few days ago. Does this mean God was rooting against Los Angeles and Memphis in those scenarios?

5 Religious talk aside, Durant continues to give the Thunder a shot at reaching the conference finals for the third straight year. Not only did he become the third player in NBA history to score 20-plus points for the 33rd straight playoff game; he also tallied 15 rebounds and six assists during his 35-point effort. For as great as he was last year, I said at the end of last year’s finals that Durant needs to do more than just score to be regarded as the second-best player in the league. He’s now a more complete player; and OKC is reaping the benefits.

6 I make a number of predictions in this column, but let’s revisit what I said at the beginning of the NBA season. I said the Lakers won’t win this year’s championship because Dwight Howard would come up small; the Brooklyn Nets would fall flat on their face after being overhyped; the Cavs would make the playoffs if Kyrie Irving was healthy; and that the 76ers would be one of the best teams in the East if new addition Andrew Bynum’s head was on straight. Looks like the first two were spot on. Irving couldn’t stay on the court enough to give the Cavs a chance, while Bynum never played one game in Philly.

7 I guess I shouldn’t be surprised anymore, but a week into the NHL playoffs, the biggest headline-grabber to this point was the combined 236 penalty minutes issued to Ottawa and Montreal on Sunday. Forget that Ottawa won 6-1 and 20-year-old Jean-Gabriel Pageau recorded a hat trick. Once again, NHL fans rejoice over fighting instead of the actual sport — hockey.

8 Congratulations to Tim Tebow, who just reported is the most influential athlete in sports in 2013, according to a survey. He beat out the likes of Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and Derek Jeter. Now, if he can only influence an NFL team to give him a shot on the gridiron — whether it be at quarterback (unlikely), fullback or tight end. Otherwise, Tebow won’t qualify for next year’s survey.

9 ESPN ran a story on Monday about a number of NFL veterans who are struggling to find work after having great careers. Among the players mentioned were defensive back Charles Woodson, linebacker Brian Urlacher, nose tackle Casey Hampton and defensive end Dwight Freeney. All of them have been in the league for 10 years or more and are in their 30s now, but I’m surprised no team has given them a shot yet. All of them have surely lost a step and have trouble staying on the field for a complete season, but just having them around developing players and serving as leaders would be huge. Those four players have a combined four Super Bowl rings and numerous professional accolades.

10 Floyd Mayweather cruised to another unanimous decision victory over the weekend. All three judges had Mayweather winning 117-11 over Robert Guerrero. Even after not fighting for a year and spending two months in jail, the undefeated boxer continues to fight at a different level from everyone else.

The preceding was The Walk Talk 10, which runs in the Tribune's sports section every Tuesday. Assistant news editor Dan Walk can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at

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