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On the pseudo-campaigning for LeBron James as Defensive Player of the Year

Nov 3, 2010, 5:12 PM EDT

LeBron James Getty Images

The media megaphone gives NBA players, coaches, front office officials, and owners a chance to call and respond. We’ve seen players poke at one another both jokingly and pointedly, coaches attempt to jar their players, opponents take shots from across the wall, and almost every conceivable combination of parties make comments of every ilk.

In more than a few of those instances, the relay of comments becomes a typical game of telephone, in which crucial words and qualifiers are often dropped for the sake of a good headline or simplification. It can lead to some hilarious misunderstandings, but more often than not it just has our favorite NBA regulars talking past one another.

Case in point? The absurd “LeBron James for Defensive Player of the Year” quasi-exchange between Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy and Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. From Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse, here is Stan Van Gundy’s response to a comment that was never really made:

“He (James) is the Defensive Player of the Year after five games? Wow. I would say that’s a quick rise to prominence defensively,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said sarcastically after Wednesday morning’s Magic practice. “Nothing surprises me. I just didn’t realize we were going to start the campaign this early. ”

That’s probably a reasonable retort to the claim that LeBron had become the DPoY favorite, but no one ever said such a thing. Here is the instigating quote of this ridiculous conversation, courtesy of Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald:

“The reality is we added a first-team all-defensive player in LeBron James,” Spoelstra said. “He has already proven himself on that side of the floor. He is capable and hopefully will be considered for Defensive Player of the Year this year if he has the year we anticipate.”
If LeBron has the year that Spoelstra and the Heat anticipate, then he’ll hopefully be considered for Defensive Player of the Year. Could Spoelstra have been more unassuming? Spoelstra simply made the case that LeBron is a very capable defender, and that he was an All-Defense first team selection last season. Both are indeed true. Spoelstra also hopes that LeBron will be considered for Defensive Player of the Year honors, as he was last season, when James ranked fourth in overall DPoY voting and second (by a large margin, mind you) in 1st place votes. Is it so ridiculous to think that LeBron could eventually be in the running for the award if he plays as the Heat expect him to play?
  1. david8726 - Nov 3, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    This is Stan Van Gundy we’re talking about. This shouldn’t surprise anyone.

    Most of the time his interviews are great. He tells it like it is.

    But he turns into a bit of douche when the Heat get brought up. Whether it was him calling Bosh Dwyane’s lapdog this summer or acting like it will be a shocker if LeBron wins DPOY.

    I can understand him attacking Riley, but he should leave the players out of it.

  2. hnirobert3 - Nov 4, 2010 at 8:58 AM

    I understand why, but I do not like centers getting Defensive Players of the Year Awards. Of the top 10 players in the league, how many are centers? 2 (Howard and Gasol and he’s a PF playing the 5 while Bynum is out). Why wouldn’t a swing player/SG/SF be given a little more credit for their defensive ability considering they’re guarding the league’s most elite players on a nightly basis?

  3. rbrown4495 - Nov 4, 2010 at 9:40 AM

    I agree, if you are 6’9″ or taller you should be expected to block shots and get rebounds and should be graded on a different defensive scale than someone who is 6’4″ getting 7 rebounds, 2 steals and a half a block per night with great man to man defense.

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