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JASON SMITH BUZZ: Three In a Row; The Real MVP Award

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History will tell us won this year's regular-season MVP award, and that he was dominant, setting career highs in offensive blah blah blah blah blah rebounds, blah blah blah blocks, blah blah blah. Wasn't it funny how and didn't make much noise when Duncan won it? Sure it's great to get it, and everyone wants to win it at least once. But the real award comes after the champagne has flowed in the winners' locker room. In winning his third consecutive finals MVP award, O'Neal is cementing himself as not one of the top 5 centers of all time, but one of the top 5 players of all time. Another couple of these and it'll be Shaq and Mike, hand-in-hand. The finals MVP is the one award everyone will tell you they want to win, and it doesn't matter the sport. From the biggest star down to the 12th man, winning the most valuable player award in the NBA or NHL finals, World Series or Super Bowl is the crowning achievement in any athlete's career. It's being the best at the time your team needs you the most. To me, it's the real MVP award. You can have your regular-season hardware. Do you think Desmond Howard would trade his Super Bowl XXXI honors for a regular-season one? You're playing the game on its biggest stage for the entire world to see. Would the NFL be home to QBs Kordell Stewart, Steve McNair, Randall Cunningham, and on down the line, if Doug Williams doesn't win the Super Bowl? The finals of any sport is when you make your legacy. They're the highlights you'll see 20 years from now on all the Classic Sports stations. More so than anything you can do from November until April. Don't believe me? Take a look at the list of the NBA finals MVPs. It's nothing short of a Hall-of-Fame list, and now O'Neal's name rises to the top. Three in a row, heading toward a fourth, which no one has ever done before. And who's going to stop him from winning it again next season? The know all they have to do is get to the finals, and Shaq will lead them to an easy series win. There is no one in the East who can even make them sweat. No and his flopping 7-1 frame. would love to get his hands on it just once, but let's face it, even he knows once the finals start it's Shaq's show. In 2000 against Indiana: 38 points and 16 rebounds a game. In 2001 against Philadelphia: 33 points and 15 rebounds a game. In 2002 vs. the ? 36 points and 12 boards a contest. And don't forget about free throws. 45-68 (66.5 percent) from the line against New Jersey. Both four-game finals records for attempts and conversions. How about that? O'Neal holds free-throw records now as well. Ice hockey in Hell starts Friday everyone.

Sound Bites

Going to be tough in France the next few weeks. The defending World Cup champions get eliminated in the first round without scoring a goal. That's the NFL equivalent of the Rams going 3-13 this season and Kurt Warner not throwing a touchdown. I would use the Patriots as an example, but they have a decent chance of going 3-13. ... Speaking of the Pats, they got their Super Bowl rings this week. A couple of interesting no-shows and developments. Drew Bledsoe wasn't at the ceremony, which is understandable. How much does it suck for Bledsoe, who realizes every player's dream by winning it all, and then can't enjoy the spoils because he was traded? I realize he made his own bed with that situation, but it's still a downer. The other decision the team made was not to give a ring to ex-teammate Terry Glenn. I know he caused problems and gave Bill Belichick and Co. huge headaches, but they still went well out of their way to keep him around last season, playing him in four games in between injuries and suspensions, when they could have just released him. And now they won't give him a ring? They're handing out 250 of them! Do you honestly think someone like Bob Kraft's assistant deserves a Super Bowl ring more than Glenn does? What a "screw you" that is. ... It was announced this week that instant replay in the NBA will be approved in July at the league's board of governors meeting. It's the biggest slam-dunk certainty of the off-season, other than Rick Adelman's continued bitterness. The league is doing it 100 percent the right way, using it on shots at the buzzer and to see if players' toes are over the 3-point line when they shoot. I can't believe the NBA is doing something I don't disagree with. ... Maybe it's "The Buzz" jinx, but ever since I wrote such glowing things about Hideki Irabu, he's gone in the Hitanki. He recently lost three consecutive decisions including a blown save and has seen his ERA rise to the 6 and a half region. (Giving up 11 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings will do that to you). ... It's already a tighter ship under the Tyrone Willingham regime in South Bend than it ever was with Bob Davie. (Think T.W. would take kindly to players watching cheerleaders go at it in a hotel room?) Leading runner Julius Jones was dismissed from the team for academic reasons, bringing to five the number of starters who have left this off-season, either due to choice (Matt LoVecchio) or legal issues (Donald Dykes, Abram Elam, and Lorenzo Crawford). This latest move shows you there will be no slackers (geez I sound like Vernon from "Breakfast Club") and I'm excited to see the new era in Golden Domers football, but now the Irish have just one tailback with game experience on the roster. It may be another long season on the gridiron before it gets better. ... Don't look now Mariners fans, but the Anaheim Angels may be around for awhile to make things tight in the AL West. After a miserable start, the Halos are neck and neck with Seattle for the division's top spot. The pitching has been better than last year, and while Aaron Sele and Kevin Appier don't have dominant numbers, they brought stability to a very young staff. So how are they really doing it? It sounds simple enough, but they're driving in runs. Anaheim has six players with more than 30 RBIs with another set to join them, yet they have only one regular with a batting average over .300. Timely hitting, young little leaguers, is a panacea for all ills. It's a different hero every night for Anaheim, which is the mark of a team steeped in chemistry, something the Angels have been lacking the past few seasons. Now, can they keep this up all season? Before landing in radio, Jason Smith was a producer for ESPN, Fox Sports and ABC in Los Angeles. Now that he has found his true calling, he can be heard on Fox Sports Radio from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. PT on Saturdays and 10 p.m.-2 a.m. PT Sundays, in addition to various guest slots during the week.
Tagged: Lakers, Nets, Kings, Spurs, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Jason Kidd, Tim Duncan

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