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:

TEAMS

Best record | Milwaukee Bucks, 53-12, a 67-win pace

Worst record | Golden State Warriors, 15-50, a 63-loss pace

Best offense | Dallas Mavericks, the best offense of all time

Best defense | Milwaukee Bucks

Fastest pace | Milwaukee Bucks

Slowest pace | Charlotte Hornets



AWARDS

MVP | Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

Best offensive player | James Harden, Rockets

Best defensive player | Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

Most clutch player | Chris Paul, Thunder

Coach of the Year | Nick Nurse, Raptors

Rookie of the Year | Ja Morant, Grizzlies

Sixth Man of the Year | Montrezl Harrell, Clippers



ALL-NBA

First team

Forward | Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

Forward | Anthony Davis, Lakers

Point center | Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Guard | LeBron James, Lakers

Guard | James Harden, Rockets

Second team

Forward | Kawhi Leonard, Clippers

Forward | Jimmy Butler, Heat

Center | Rudy Gobert, Jazz

Guard | Luka Doncic, Mavericks

Guard | Chris Paul, Thunder

Third team

Forward | Jayson Tatum, Celtics

Forward | Khris Middleton, Bucks

Center | Bam Adebayo, Heat

Guard | Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

Guard | Kyle Lowry, Raptors

Honorable mention

Center | Domantas Sabonis, Pacers

Forward | Pascal Siakam, Raptors

Guard | Ben Simmons, 76ers



ALL-DEFENSE

First team

Forward | Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

Forward | Anthony Davis, Lakers

Center | Rudy Gobert, Jazz

Guard | Ben Simmons, 76ers

Guard | Kris Dunn, Bulls

Second team

Forward | Kawhi Leonard, Clippers

Forward | LeBron James, Lakers

Center | Brook Lopez, Bucks

Guard | Marcus Smart, Celtics

Guard | Patrick Beverley, Clippers



LEADERS

Real Plus-Minus | Giannis Antetokounmpo, 10.5

Box Plus-Minus | Giannis Antetokounmpo, 11.7

Win shares | James Harden, 11.5

Player efficiency rating | Giannis Antetokounmpo, 31.8, currently chasing Wilt Chamberlain’s single-season record

Scoring | James Harden, 34.6

Rebounding | Andre Drummond, 15.2

Assists | LeBron James, 10.5

Field goal percentage | Mitchell Robinson, .742, who beat Wilt Chamberlain’s single-season record

3-point percentage | George Hill, .474

Free throw shooting | Devin Booker, .916

Steals | Ben Simmons, 2.1

Blocks | Hassan Whiteside, 3.0



SUPERLATIVES

Best shooter | J.J. Redick, Pelicans

Best backcourt | James Harden and Russell Westbrook, Rockets

Best frontcourt | Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, Bucks

Iron men | James Harden, Devin Booker

Tallest player | Tacko Fall, 7-5

Shortest player | Isaiah Thomas, 5-9

Best young player | Luka Doncic, 20 years old

Best old player | LeBron James, 35 years old

Debut | Zion Williamson

Farewell | Vince Carter

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.

Battle Q&A | Judy Norton-Taylor



Judy Norton-Taylor will forever be known as Mary Ellen Walton, the oldest daughter to John and Oliva on The Waltons (1972-81), the earnest television series about a Depression-era family in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The family drama was watched by more than 20 million viewers a week.

To millions less, Norton-Taylor is simply the greatest women’s athlete in the history of Battle of the Network Stars (1976-85), the biannual made-for-television special in which stars from the three broadcast networks competed in various sporting events. “A female superstar,” Howard Cosell said.

Norton-Taylor could do it all — and play through pain. Her signature events: the obstacle course and 3-on-3 football. She won the women’s obstacle course in each of her three appearances — beating Kristy McNichol (thanks to a 3-second penalty), Susan Richardson and Randi Oakes — and she holds the all-time record for touchdown catches. Battle IX was her masterpiece, arguably the best individual performance in the show’s history, helping CBS win six events, three with a broken finger. “It was a good weekend,” she said. Battle X was nearly as good: five wins, two with a sprained ankle.

Today, Norton-Taylor is Judy Norton, but she is still a hyphenate — actress-writer-director-producer and singer. Finding Harmony and Another Day in Paradise — two films she wrote and co-starred in — are scheduled for release later this year. Her IMDb page lists five films in pre- and post-production. Still in the development phase: a stage musical based on the life of Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis.

Jerry Sloan, 1942-2020


Jerry Sloan was all those stories told by grandparents everywhere. He grew up on a farm in Gobbler’s Knob, about 16 miles from McLeansboro, Ill., the youngest of 10 children. His father died when he was 4 years old. His elementary school was one room. Basketball practice was before school — and after school. He hitchhiked home every day.

Sloan fought his way out of that hardscrabble rural town, leading Division II Evansville to consecutive national titles. He became a six-time All-Defensive team guard with the Chicago Bulls and then the longest-tenured coach in professional sports with the Utah Jazz. Sloan, who won 1,221 games and led the Jazz to two NBA Finals, died on Friday. He was 78 and had suffered from Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

“He was a mentor for me from afar until I got to know him,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “A man who suffered no fools, he possessed a humor, often disguised, and had a heart as big as the prairie.”

Technician Sports / Grudge Bowl



Listen to this episode of postmodcast.

sports editor, 1993-94 | Kevin Brewer
Grudge Bowl founder | Owen Good

1. Origin story (0:00)
2. Brian Absher (6:30)
3. The Game of His Life (14:45)
4. It’s our way of life against theirs. (20:00)