This is the time of year when NBA reporters are made to feel like valued stockholders in a takeover fight.
It's time for postseason awards and the league's public relations directors are bombarding the postal system with reasoned missives on why players and coaches in their respective organizations are worthy of postseason accolades.
This season, the most consistent -- or pesky, depending on one's point of view -- have been Bill Kreifelt of the Utah Jazz and Bill King II of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Almost from the first day of training camp, it seems, Kreifelt has crusaded to have forward Karl Malone elected rookie of the year, sending out weekly statistics that compare him to other first-year men.
King's pitch began only two weeks ago but makes up for that in volume -- a full four pages on why Don Nelson should repeat as the NBA's coach of the year. And, while you're at it, why not vote for guard Ricky Pierce as the best sixth man?
The arguments are reasoned and well thought out. I also believe they are wrong. Here's one man's view of the best in the NBA:
*Rookie of the Year: Easily the most controversial race. In the last three weeks there has been a backlash against New York's Patrick Ewing because he played but 50 games before his knee surgery. Since then, other contenders, including Malone, Charles Oakley of the Chicago Bulls and Xavier McDaniel of the Seattle SuperSonics, have been touted.
Of the three, Oakley, a forward from Virginia Union, has played by far the best since February, despite playing out of position at center. But it took injuries to such non-household names as Jawann Oldham and Dave Corzine to get him into the lineup a month ago. Where was he in November and December?
McDaniel, another forward, might have lost votes by getting into nine fights this season. Closer to the nature of why awards are bestowed -- playing the game -- Malone's sub-40 percent mark from the foul line is irksome.
The choice here: Ewing. Think of how incredibly bad the 22-57 Knicks' season would have been without Ewing, the former Georgetown center. If that's not enough, picture him on another NBA team. With him in the pivot, the Washington Bullets, for example, win 50 games. Easy.
*Sixth Man Award: Another highly contested race, with candidates ranging from Pierce to Robert Reid of the Houston Rockets and Michael Cooper of the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference to Darryl Dawkins of New Jersey and Vinnie Johnson of Detroit.
The choice here: Bill Walton of the Boston Celtics. Although the aforementioned have all started more games than Walton, a starter only once, he simply is the substitute who does the most for his team when he's in the game. For those of you saying, "Yeah, especially when he's on the court with Larry Bird," that's a good point. However, Bird, my automatic choice for a third consecutive MVP award, would be the first to say that Boston wouldn't be nearly as dominant without Walton.
*Coach of the Year: This really seems to be a lock for Mike Fratello of the Atlanta Hawks for taking a lottery team to the brink of a 50-victory season. I've been more amazed all season at the job turned in by K.C. Jones in Boston. Sure, he has great players, but shouldn't he get credit for making them mesh? On a more technical note, Jones and Pat Riley of the Lakers (another overlooked coach) do remarkable jobs of getting quality minutes for all that talent.
*Comeback Player of the Year: Another close one. The first inclination was to vote for Walton, who already has achieved a career high in games played. However, my vote went to the Clippers' Marques Johnson, who seemed to have fallen further than fellow UCLA alum Walton but reemerged this season as a spectacular performer -- and at a new position, guard instead of forward.
*Most Improved Player: A new category and, yes, another close call. Charles Barkley of Philadelphia will get some votes, as befitting a man who will go from rookie to first- or second-team all-NBA. More votes will go to Dominique Wilkins of the Hawks. The winner though, should be Alvin Robertson of the San Antonio Spurs. Setting a league record for steals this season, Robertson, another second-year man, also was a rarity in that he actually deserved the starting position in this season's all-star game.
*Defensive Player of the Year: Are you kidding? " 'Nute! 'Nute!"