Around the time the win streak climbed into double digits, Travis Outlaw leapt from one category of my brain to another. I was already appreciating his growth on the court, ecstatic at the sight of this consistent contributor that had replaced the talented enigma we had come to know and love/hate. He is having his best season statistically so far, but his intangibles have been the hardest to believe. He has become a player that can have a bad shooting night, but start hitting down the stretch. I’ve become enamored with those frequent awkward skyscraper jumpers. They seemingly always go in when they have to, much to the befuddlement of the defense. We’ve seen him block shots, now we see him block shots that ensure victory. He gets clutch rebounds. When the other team gets physical (always a go-to strategy against the skinny guy), Outlaw couples an awkward enthusiasm with his awkward game. Somehow this equals beautiful basketball and Blazer victories.
In my raging homerism, I started postulating that maybe these emerging attributes qualify him for the Sixth Man of the Year Award. I welcome that this is against logic. Ginobili is probably considered a mortal lock at this point. Even if he manages to fall off for the rest of the season, players such as Jason Terry, last year’s winner Barbosa, or some other guys I’ve overlooked are of course ahead of Outlaw.
Because this award is given to the best player that does not start. Right?
Something is lacking. Each and every year we sit and listen to guys on TV emphatically debate what “MVP” means, and who deserves the award. Then we talk to our friends about what “MVP” means, and who deserves the award. Then we take our significant other out to eat and tell them what “MVP” means, and who deserves the award. And they don’t care, so you have the conversation with the server. And your server is totally up on it because you always take your significant other “out” to that wings place with a million jumbotron TVs that show sports all day, so all employees there have heard every debate on the topic a thousand times. The sports and TV orgy is really why you keep dragging this person to this place anyways, although you continue to hold strong to the tired “the wings are amazing” line. Admirable.
Anyways, there is always a debate on exactly what it means to be MVP. Common perspectives include “Best player on the best team,” “Single player most critical to team success,” or the old standby “Best player, period.” Despite this gooeyness, nobody complains that the award is given based on a myriad of differing perspectives. The definition of what this award means remains in flux, and keeps debate wide open. Sounds healthy.
Why not take a similar philosophical argument to the SixthMOY? Do we dare look beyond that uninteresting “best guy that doesn’t start” thing? Circling back to Travis Outlaw, I think he could fit the award more than many of the automatic selections. He is a bench player, in letter and spirit. Ginobili and Terry fit the letter, that is they don’t start. Of course, they get starter minutes, starter money, starter fame, and starter respect. Barbosa doesn’t get the money, but gets those other nice startery things to a respectable degree.
If you defined this award as a means to credit the guy that doesn’t get those nice starter things, and helps his team win in the most ways, you’d have a totally different list of top candidates. There’s a lot of reasonable alternative explanations out there, but this post is already too long and I am far too lazy to think of them.
Admittedly, this started as an attempt to justify why a Blazer deserves an award he otherwise has no chance of getting. But the question that comes out of this could be more valuable. Of course, the MVP is the biggest deal as far as regular season awards go. It follows then that it would dominate debates both on TV and at fine wings serving establishments throughout the universe. But this gets old, real old. We have blogs and twenty four hour TV to talk about these things. Lets not be afraid to open it up and talk crazy talk about what the seemingly self-defined Sixth Man of the Year Award really means. And we won’t stop there, just wait until you see guys screaming at each other over the Citizenship Award.
These fine places have linked here, even after they read it:
- Agree to Disagree
- Alana G
- And One
- Ball Don't Lie
- Ball In Europe
- Be The Three
- Blaze of Love
- Bust a Bucket
- El CAI a la ACB
- El Ilusorio Blog de Rudy
- Give Me The Rock
- KNEE JERK NBA
- Life on Dumars
- NBA FanHouse
- OregonLive.com Blazers Blog
- Peninsula is Mightier
- Peter Robert Casey
- Rip City Forever
- Roundball Mining Company
- Rusty's Blog
- Sport Chit Chat
- Steven's Triathlon Station
- SunSpectrum: A Phoenix Suns Blog
- The AltRaps Blog
- THE WIZZNUTZZ
- Trailblazers Talk
- Tremendous Upside Potential
- What Would Oakley Do?
A sampling of other places I steal from:
- ► 2010 (29)
- ► 2009 (233)
- ► 2008 (261)
- The Consistent Stat
- Blazers vs Philly: Lucky 13
- Appreciating Aldridge
- Portland vs Minnesota: 12 in a row and vanity issu...
- China still loves Houston
- Travis Outlaw, 6th Man
- Taurean Green back where he should be
- Portland vs Denver: 10
- Checking in with Taurean Green
- Portland vs Toronto: No jinxes here
- Hottest team in the League: Your Portland Trailbla...
- A Boom-Dizzle Christmas
- Blazers vs Hornets: Dear God
- ESPN: We know who Travis Outlaw is!
- Blazers vs Denver: Nick Cannon did this to you!
- Redefining Bassy
- Blazers vs. Utah: Six wins in a row
- Finland Can Groove
- Blazers vs Warriors: still hot
- Baby, I'm Boom-Dizzl-ING
- Blazers vs Utah: Mandatory Recap
- Taurean Green will love Boise
- Paul Allen's gonna go broke! Oh wait, nevermind
- Finnagler concussed, but fine
- Tim Kisner in Finland
- Sweet Road Victory!
- Aldridge, darling.
- ▼ December (27)