Who is the NBA's Most Valuable Player?
Someone who deserves the award, whether it's Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd or the person at the NBA office who got rid of those annoying Adam Sandler commercials.
Official NBA ballots were mailed to voters a week ago, and the MVP will be announced in May.
Here is one writer's MVP selection, along with choices for other official and some nonofficial awards. (The Associated Press does not participate in official NBA award balloting.)
* MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Duncan, San Antonio Spurs. It didn't seem fair when Duncan was selected as MVP last season over Jason Kidd, who transformed a moribund franchise into the Eastern Conference finalist. This season, however, Duncan has been taken for granted amid all the debate over the MVP credentials of the other candidates. In the end, it comes down to three questions: Who's got the best record? Who swept the Lakers 4-zip in the season series? Who's the best player on that team? Runner-up: McGrady.
* ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Yao Ming, Houston Rockets. Not an easy choice, with Caron Butler of the Miami Heat and Amare Stoudemire of Phoenix having legitimate credentials. There are plenty of arguments to be made against Yao, who didn't produce on a night-in, night-out basis the way Butler did and seemed to play his best only in games which were nationally televised. He gets the nod because he had more to do with keeping the Rockets in playoff contention than Stoudemire did for the Suns. Runner-up: Butler.
* COACH OF THE YEAR: Eric Musselman, Golden State Warriors. He taped a carrot to each locker before the Warriors beat Minnesota. A victory meant a day off, thus the dangling carrot. He placed mousetraps by each locker in a game at Denver to keep his players on their toes. He turned a perennial doormat into a legitimate team. Runner-up: Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz.
* SIXTH MAN AWARD: Bobby Jackson, Sacramento Kings. When Mike Bibby missed the first 27 games of the season, Jackson shot almost 50 percent from the field -- a very high percentage for a shoot-first point guard -- while leading the Kings to a 21-6 record. He broke his hand when Shaquille O'Neal fouled him hard on Christmas night, and he didn't do much after that. Without him, though, the Kings wouldn't have won the Pacific Division. Runner-up: Andrei Kirilenko, Utah Jazz.
* MOST IMPROVED: Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons. Another race in which there are plenty of worthy qualifiers. Billups makes the cut because of his knack for keeping his cool and making several game-winning shots. Runner-up: Troy Murphy, Golden State.
* DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ron Artest, Indiana Pacers. Not only defends people, but scares them. The league's loosest cannon since the days of Dennis Rodman, there's no faulting Artest for his unmatched competitive nature. Runner-up: Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers.
* ALL-NBA: First team: C Shaquille O'Neal; F Tim Duncan; F Kevin Garnett; G Kobe Bryant; G Tracy McGrady. Second Team: C Ben Wallace; F Dirk Nowitzki; F Jermaine O'Neal; G Jason Kidd, G Allen Iverson. Third team: C Yao Ming; F Chris Webber; F Shawn Marion; G Steve Nash, G Stephon Marbury.
* All-ROOKIE TEAM: First team: C Yao Ming; F Amare Stoudemire; F Carlos Boozer, Cleveland Cavaliers; G Caron Butler; G Emanuel Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs. Second Team: C Nene Hilario, Denver Nuggets; F Drew Gooden, Orlando Magic; F Reggie Evans, Seattle SuperSonics; G Gordan Giricek, Orlando; G Marko Jaric, Los Angeles Clippers.
* ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM: C Ben Wallace, Pistons; F Ron Artest, Pacers; F Bruce Bowen, Spurs; G Allen Iverson, 76ers; G Gary Payton, Bucks.
* EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR: John Gabriel, Orlando Magic. His deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, acquiring Gooden and Giricek for Mike Miller, relieved some of the offensive burden from McGrady and made the team a legitimate contender to advance through the Eastern Conference playoffs.
* ALL-INTERVIEW: C Vlade Divac, Sacramento Kings, F Ron Artest, Pacers; F Karl Malone, Utah Jazz; G Jerry Stackhouse, Washington Wizards; G Baron Davis, New Orleans Hornets.
* ALL-OVERPAID: C Travis Knight, New York Knicks, ($4 million); F Danny Fortson, Golden State Warriors ($5.04 million); F Vin Baker, Boston Celtics ($12.4 million); G Antoine Rigaudeau, Dallas Mavericks ($600,000); G Vince Carter, Toronto Raptors ($10.06 million).
* ALL-HAIR: C Ben Wallace, Detroit; F Scot Pollard, Sacramento; F Ricky Davis, Cleveland; G Moochie Norris, Houston, G Dan Dickau, Atlanta Hawks.
* ALL-STIFF: C Mamadou N'Diaye, Toronto; F Samaki Walker, Lakers; F Bostjan Nachbar, Rockets; G Igor Rakocevic; Minnesota; G Jay Williams, Chicago.