June 6, 2021

Age [36] All-Star team

LeBron James lost in the first round of the playoffs for the first time on Thursday night, but he finished possibly the best Age 36 season in history.

James, who turned 36 years old on Dec. 30, averaged 25.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists in 45 games for the Lakers. He missed 27 games with an injured right ankle.

The Lakers were 28-13 when he injured the ankle on March 20 in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks. They finished 30-14 with James in the lineup, 12-16 without him.

LeBron’s chief competition as the top 36-year-old is Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone, who averaged 25.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 1999-00. He played 82 games.

James, who has played 18 seasons, is now sixth all-time in minutes played with 50,055. Malone is second with 54,852.

They lead the Age 36 All-Star team:

STARTERS | Stockton to Malone ... and LeBron and Kareem.

Forward | LeBron James, Lakers [2020-21]
>>>  25.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.8 assists

Forward | Karl Malone, Jazz [1999-00]
>>>  25.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists

Center | Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lakers [1983-84]
>>>  21.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 57.9 field goal shooting

Guard | Steve Nash, Suns [2010-11]
>>>  14.7 points, 11.4 assists, 91.2 free throw shooting

Guard | John Stockton, Jazz [1998-99]
>>>  11.1 points, 7.5 assists, 81.1 free throw shooting

BENCH | Chamberlain, Rodman led the league in rebounding.

Forward | Dennis Rodman, Bulls [1997-98]
>>>  4.7 points, 15.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists

Forward | Vince Carter, Mavericks [2012-13]
>>>  13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 40.6 3-point shooting

Center | Wilt Chamberlain, Lakers [1972-73]
>>>  13.2 points, 18.6 rebounds, 72.7 field goal shooting

Center | Hakeem Olajuwon, Rockets [1998-99]
>>>  18.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.5 blocks

Center | Tim Duncan, Spurs [2012-13]
>>>  17.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.7 blocks

Guard | Jason Kidd, Mavericks [2009-10]
>>>  10.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 9.1 assists

Guard | Reggie Miller, Pacers [2001-02]
>>>  16.5 points, 40.6 3-point / 91.1 free throw shooting

May 19, 2021

2021 NBA awards

Nikola Jokic, the second-round draft pick from Sombor, Serbia, is this season’s easy MVP selection. The Denver Nuggets point center averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists, shooting 60.6 percent on 2-pointers, 38.8 on 3-pointers and 86.8 from the free throw line. He led the league in Estimated Plus-Minus, Box Plus-Minus and 538’s RAPTOR WAR. In a season with more excused absences than any other, from COVID-19 protocols to schedule-induced injuries, Jokic played in every game. When guard Jamal Murray tore his left ACL against the Golden State Warriors on April 12, the Nuggets (47-25) kept rolling, winning 13 of their last 18 games.

Stephen Curry scored 46 points on the last day of the season to win the scoring title. The Phoenix Suns made the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons, while the New York Knicks made the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons. Russell Westbrook chased triple-doubles, catching Oscar Roberson’s all-time record. James Harden joined Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. They played eight games together. The Toronto Raptors played their games in Tampa, Fla. Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett were inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Marv Albert will retire after the Eastern Conference finals.
— Kevin Brewer

My 2020-21 season in review, awards and All-NBA teams:

August 9, 2020

Age [20] All-Star team

As Jon Landau might say: I have seen basketball’s future and its name is Luka Doncic. The Mavericks wunderkind had possibly the finest game of his career on Saturday night, putting up 36 points, 14 rebounds and a career-high 19 assists in a victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Doncic is finishing up the best season by a 20-year-old in league history, averaging 29.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.9 assists while leading the most efficient offense of all time. Well, it’s either him or LeBron James. Doncic, LeBron and Magic Johnson — three playmaking polymaths — lead my Age 20 All-Star team:

Forward | LeBron James, Cavaliers [2004-05]
>>>  27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists

Forward | Anthony Davis, Pelicans [2013-14]
>>>  20.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.8 blocks

Center | Shaquille O’Neal, Magic [1992-93]
>>>  23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds, 3.5 blocks

Guard | Magic Johnson, Lakers [1979-80]
>>>  18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists

Guard | Luka Doncic, Mavericks [2019-20]
>>>  28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 8.8 assists


Forward | Chris Webber, Warriors [1993-94]
>>>  17.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.2 blocks

Center | Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves [2015-16]
>>>  18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 55.9 2-point shooting

Guard | Chris Paul, Hornets [2005-06]
>>>  16.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 7.8 assists

Guard | Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers [2012-13]
>>>  22.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists

Guard | Kobe Bryant, Lakers [1998-99]

Rookies of the Year | Adrian Dantley (1977), Shaquille O’Neal (1993), Chris Webber (1994), Elton Brand (2000), Mike Miller (2001), Amare Stoudemire (2003), Chris Paul (2006), Derrick Rose (2009), Tyreke Evans (2010), Karl-Anthony Towns (2016)

NBA Finals MVP | Magic Johnson (1980)
— Kevin Brewer

August 2, 2020

2020 NBA awards

Giannis Antetokounmpo was sui generis. LeBron James and Luka Doncic were position-less basketball polymaths. Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis moved to Los Angeles — but to different teams. Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook traded teams. Paul won the deal. Jimmy Butler took his talents to South Beach. Zion Williamson made his debut. Vince Carter played his final — and record 22nd — season. Michael Jordan took everything personal in The Last Dance.

The league also lost David Stern, Kobe Bryant, Jerry Sloan and many games to the COVID-19 pandemic.

My 2019-20 season in review, with awards and All-NBA teams, and all statistics through March 11:

June 22, 2020

Zen and the Art of Mark Harmon

If Mark Harmon did not exist, man would have to invent him — out of necessity or desire for someone so good and true that he seems too good to be true.

Harmon has played many roles on television and in life. Quarterback at UCLA. Dr. Bobby Caldwell on St. Elsewhere. Special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS. And one that is more obscure: the greatest athlete in the history of Battle of the Network Stars.

But make no mistake. Every part of this story — from the obstacle course to the Tug of War to the time he saved a young man’s life by pulling him from a burning automobile — is true. That’s the way Thomas Mark Harmon would want it.

Like some sort of half-athlete, half-actor mythological creature, Harmon was born in Burbank, Calif., the son of Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon and Vogue model and B-movie actress Elyse Knox. Which meant he was perfectly cast in Battle of the Network Stars (1976-1985, 1989), a biannual made-for-television special in which stars from the three broadcast networks competed in various sporting events.