The winners and losers of the NBA’s annual (?) award show are not limited to the players who finish with the most votes in each category. For example, when it comes to mom shout-outs, everyone wins. When it comes to the presenter skits, everyone loses. Here are the evening’s real champs and fails.
Loser: The Timing of the Awards
Dwane Casey had a valid case for NBA Coach of the Year after leading the Raptors to a franchise-record 59 wins. He also had a valid case for the NBA awards happening too late after accepting his Coach of the Year award a month and a half after Toronto fired him. Casey, who was let go in May after another underwhelming Raptors postseason, has since been hired by the Pistons. He’s the fourth coach in league history to win the award only to not be with the same team next season, joining Dolph Schayes (1965-66), Pat Riley (1989-90), and George Karl (2012-13).
The awards are based off, and voted on at the end of, the regular season, but by the time they’re announced, they often feel expired. If the Raptors had gone further in the playoffs, perhaps Casey would have accepted the honor as a Toronto staffer. That he is already employed again made the moment a tad less uncomfortable, but it still felt like watching Andy be the last person to find out Angela was cheating on him with Dwight. (The trophy being the better prize of the two.)
Only Casey can say whether being crowned the best at his job this season felt like vindication or just awkward. He addressed being fired in his speech without a hint of spite, and later thanked Detroit owner Tom Gores for his next opportunity: “That’s all you want as a player, and also a coach: an owner who believes in you and trusts you with his franchise,” Casey said. To be fair, the Raptors did for seven seasons. Still, the NBA created an entire show to spotlight the awards. I doubt this is the kind of publicity it wished for.
Winner: Bill Russell
“Winner” is kind of evergreen for someone with more rings than fingers, but on Monday he needed only one:
Loser: Nick Young
Nothing like minimally contributing to winning a ring to give a guy some real confidence. Not that Nick Young needs any more of it, but somehow, that’s his current state. Last week, he advocated for coke to be legalized: “I want people to pass cocaine,” Young said in response to the news that Canada is legalizing weed. “Everybody needs to do cocaine.” Whew! I wonder whether by “everybody” he was including himself, a professional basketball player who is subjected to regular drug testing.
Swaggy was “being funny” (which is exactly the kind of thing someone should joke about when leaving a club on a Tuesday). His takes kept rolling into the awards show, as he tweeted out his opinion of the Rookie of the Year winner:
Should’ve pull a kanye at the Nba awards show ......about the rookie of the year award— Nick Young (@NickSwagyPYoung) June 26, 2018
He presumably meant that Donovan Mitchell—I’m sorry, but Donny had one of the best rookie seasons of all time—should’ve won over Ben Simmons. Two things: Ben is Taylor Swift in this analogy, which projects well for his future earnings. (I just compared Ben Simmons to Taylor Swift. Look what you made me do.) Also, Young just finished his 11th season.
Winner: Lou Williams
Drake’s new album comes out in four days, but I’m holding out hope that he’ll slip in another “6 man” line about Lou Will. He deserves it: After his 13th season in the league, and after winning the Sixth Man of the Year award three years ago, Williams was at his best right when the Clippers needed him to be. He averaged a career-high 22.6 points per game this season, becoming the only player in history to average a career-high of 20 or more this late in his career. He was even an All-Star candidate!
Williams was the ideal spark, yet again. Lou had six games in which he put up 35 points or more (and eight total). Every other bench player in the league combined for five such games.
Winner and Loser: Statement Suits
Your 2018 MVP wore cow print.
It was more of a trench coat than a suit jacket, but he had the full support of Chris Paul. There’s only one ball, but there is a world of prints.
"If I would have been told 15 years ago that I would be here I probably wouldn't believe it" Rudy Gobert thanks Jazz fans and the organization in his acceptance speech for #nba Defensive Player of the Year Award. #NBAAwards #utahjazz pic.twitter.com/WehCuKgtLZ— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) June 26, 2018