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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Sporting News Strikes Again

First, the Sporting News predicted that the Washington Wizards would be the third best team in the NBA in 2009-10 and that the Utah Jazz would miss the playoffs entirely (the Jazz currently rank fourth in the West, while the Wizards' plight is well documented). Now, SN has progressed from ludicrous predictions to rewriting history: the February 4, 2010 issue of Sporting News Today includes a chart that purports to list the ABA's nine championship teams and Playoff MVPs. The problems begin right at the top with a photo of Julius Erving bearing a caption that describes him as a "two-time MVP in the ABA"; Erving actually won three ABA MVPs (1974-76, sharing the 1975 honor with George McGinnis). For some reason, the fiction that Erving only won two ABA MVPs is widely repeated, reminiscent of the myth that Erving's famous "rock the cradle dunk" over Michael Cooper took place in the 1983 NBA Finals (that dunk is actually from a January 5, 1983 regular season game).

It is not clear why a piece about championships and Playoff MVPs would have a photo/caption pertaining to regular season MVPs but this actually turns out to be a fitting introduction to the list of "ABA Playoff MVPs": the list is an absolute mess--at first you might think that SN Today simply confused "Playoff MVP" with "Regular Season MVP" but in fact SN Today's list is wrong on both counts. Here are the correct lists, followed by SN Today's fictional account:

ABA Regular Season MVPs

1968: Connie Hawkins, Pittsburgh Pipers
1969: Mel Daniels, Indiana Pacers
1970: Spencer Haywood, Denver Rockets
1971: Mel Daniels, Indiana Pacers
1972: Artis Gilmore, Kentucky Colonels
1973: Billy Cunningham, Carolina Cougars
1974: Julius Erving, New York Nets
1975: Julius Erving, New York Nets; George McGinnis, Indiana Pacers
1976: Julius Erving, New York Nets

ABA Playoff MVPs

1968: Connie Hawkins, Pittsburgh Pipers
1969: Warren Jabali, Oakland Oaks
1970: Roger Brown, Indiana Pacers
1971: Zelmo Beaty, Utah Stars
1972: Freddie Lewis, Indiana Pacers
1973: George McGinnis, Indiana Pacers
1974: Julius Erving, New York Nets
1975: Artis Gilmore, Kentucky Colonels
1976: Julius Erving, New York Nets

ABA Playoff MVPs according to February 4, 2010 Sporting News Today

1968: Connie Hawkins, Pittsburgh
1969: Mel Daniels, Indiana
1970: Spencer Haywood, Denver
1971: Mel Daniels, Indiana
1972: Artis Gilmore, Kentucky
1973: Billy Cunningham, Carolina
1974: Julius Erving, New York
1975: Artis Gilmore, Kentucky
1976: Julius Erving, New York

SN Today lists the AP and Insidehoops.com as the sources for the above erroneous information. I have no idea why anyone would consider Insidehoops.com to be an authority on basketball history and it is shameful if the AP's archives are truly that messed up. An even more important issue is the fact that SN Today's editors not only are ignorant about ABA history but lack the common sense to figure out that it would be odd that--according to this chart--there were five different years that the Playoff MVP came from a team that did not win the ABA title (1969-1973). The NBA has awarded 41 Playoff MVPs (now called the Finals MVP), the ABA awarded nine Playoff MVPs and only one of those 50 honors went to a player whose team did not win the championship that year: Jerry West received the 1969 NBA Playoff MVP after posting 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists as his L.A. Lakers suffered a game seven loss to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

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posted by David Friedman @ 6:49 PM

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