Single page view By Skip Bayless
Page 2

The problem with this opinion – or fact – is that it casts me as a Nash-bashing villain in many wide eyes.

Steve Nash
Steve looked almost as surprised as the rest of us when he won the MVP.

So before we proceed another dribble, let me be very clear about this: Steve Nash had a wonderful season. In fact, he got more out of his natural ability than any other NBA player got out of his. I get a great kick out of watching Nash and his Phoenix Suns run and stun. Nash was the NBA's Catalyst of the Year.

But the league's Most Valuable Player?

That's more laughable than Shaquille O'Neal's many hilarious one-liners.

Shaq was the MVP, as much for his mature leadership as his numbers (22.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.3 blocks). Shaq Diesel should have blown Steve's little Nash Rambler off the voting road. Yet Nash somehow prevailed by the fourth-closest margin in league history – 1,066 points to 1,032, including 68-58 in first-place votes.

What were those 71 voters thinking? (Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and Amare Stoudemire each got a first-place vote – with two for AI).

Shaq is basketball's most dominant player – and has been since Michael Jordan left Chicago in 1998. Yet in 13 seasons, Shaq has won only one MVP, in 2000.

That's funny-sad.

Shaq was traded by a team – Kobe Bryant's Lakers – that fell from Western Conference champion and prohibitive Finals favorite to 34-48 and 11 games out of a playoff spot. Shaq carried the Miami Heat from 42-40 last season to the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Nash left Dallas for Phoenix, which became only the second team to go from a 50-loss season to a 60-plus-win season, at 62-20. Yet those who have been paying close attention know Dallas is a little better without Nash. Dallas no longer relies on a two-man offense (Nash and Dirk Nowitzki). And Dallas' perimeter defense is much quicker and stronger and mentally tougher without Nash.

Bomani Jones believes Steve Nash would be an MVP candidate regardless of his skin color. Plus, check out Mike Tirico's thoughts Oddcast
Ask the Houston Rockets.

Case closed.

At 7 foot 1 and 325 or so in-shape pounds, Shaq changes games on offense and defense.

Listed at 6-3, with the sinewy frame of a marathon runner, Nash is merely the quarterback of a flying circus of an offense. Nash can be a liability on defense. A point guard who can't cover scoring point guards should not be the MVP.

In 2003, San Antonio's Tony Parker went for 19 on Nash – in a quarter. This season, as the Spurs were blowing out the Suns in San Antonio, Parker was taking such advantage of Nash that Spurs broadcaster (and former Spurs star) Sean Elliott said: "This is embarrassing."

So, occasionally, is Shaq's free-throw shooting. Yet he does seem to make the most important ones.

Nash deserves to be first team All-NBA. Shaq deserved his second MVP.

Yet Nash's coach, Mike D'Antoni, deserves to be NBA coach of the year. D'Antoni risked the ridicule of rival coaches and GMs by basically saying from the start of the season: "My team is best when we go 'small' with Amare Stoudemire as our 'center' and Shawn Marion as our 'power forward' and we let Steve run our break and we shoot 3s and concentrate on outscoring our opponents."



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