The NBA MVP race is now technically over, too

The league announces the seeding phase won't count for regular season awards. Congratulations, Giannis.

Good morning.

The WNBA season is just days away and the NBA season is following a few days after that. So let’s celebrate with a giveaway. Actually, four giveaways!

I have a little survey that shouldn’t take you too long to complete, just asking some basic questions about the newsletter and newsletters in general. As an incentive to fill it out, I’m giving away four newsletter subscriptions. Two people who are on the free GMIB newsletter list will receive 1-year subscriptions to GMIB. Two people who are on the paid GMIB list will receive a 1-year subscription to one of the below newsletters/websites (winner’s choice):

One entry per subscriber. You have a much better chance of winning if you’re on the paid GMIB list, for what it’s worth. Ahem.

Again, here’s the survey. It closes Friday. Thanks!

Let’s basketball.

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We’ve known for about five months that Giannis Antetokounmpo would win his second consecutive NBA MVP award — all four months of the NBA shutdown, and at least a month prior to that as No. 34 dominated and his Milwaukee Bucks took control of the Eastern Conference. There was some intrigue after LeBron James and the Lakers beat the Bucks on March 6, and given LeBron’s leadership and performance for the top team in the West. But this was mere intrigue: few suggested by March 11 when the NBA went on hiatus that LeBron could truly catch Giannis in the hearts and minds of enough voters.

When the NBA announced its July 30 restart, little changed. With just eight regular season games in lieu of the 15+ the competitors would have had in a normal season, there was even less time to change the status quo opinion of the majority. It became harder to imagine LeBron catching up to Giannis for the MVP award. It became impossible to imagine Zion Williamson catch Ja Morant for the Rookie of the Year award, too. Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Most Improved Player are idiosyncratic enough to have been relative mysteries in March; eight games in the bubble could absolutely have changed minds.

Now it’s officially impossible for LeBron to catch Giannis: the NBA has declared that ballots for the leaguewide regular season awards will be submitted before the season resumes on July 30. The following races are done for the year: MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Most Improved Player, Rookie of the Year, All-NBA, All-Defense, All-Rookie and (I assume) Executive of the Year. However, the seeding phase will count toward the scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks races. Most of those are not in question, and scoring titles are the only one most people care about. James Harden is still going to win that, his third straight.

Giannis will be the MVP, deservedly so. He might be unanimous. LeBron should finish No. 2 by acclamation. After that, I’d probably go with James Harden No. 3, Anthony Davis No. 4 and Kawhi Leonard No. 5 with apologies to Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic. In addition to those seven players, I expect Jimmy Butler will get some low-ballot action, and perhaps Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry or Jayson Tatum will get a few votes as well.

We’ll talk about other categories later this week. But MVP has been over a long time. Now it’s just official.

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Why Is [Blank] Trending? Mark Cuban Edition

A Texas radio host tweeted that he was excited for the Mavericks’ stretch run but that any player kneeling for the anthem would ruin it. This was Mark Cuban’s response.

Cuban followed up with another tweet, too. He’s not here for the national anthem stuff. By the way, Cuban’s position is now the majority opinion (narrowly) in the United States. Surely it’s a bigger majority among NBA fans.

Links

Zach Lowe’s 13 most fascinating lineups to watch in the bubble.

Great piece from Chris Haynes on his experience getting into the bubble before it was a bubble.

Malika Andrews on how players are adjusting in the bubble.

Tina Charles did receive a medical exemption.

SKINNY MELO.

Darnell Mayberry in The Athletic on why Jim Boylen is still the head coach of the Bulls. ($)

Tracy McGrady and Jermaine O’Neal are starting a sports agency.

Vince Goodwill on the potential for the bubble to foster creation of a new superteam.

Matt Brown on the money drying up in college athletic departments.

Jaylen Brown is holding up his end of the bargain.

Sabrina Ionescu is ready to not be perfect in the WNBA.

David Thorpe in TrueHoop on some in-season changes to expect in Orlando. ($)

T.J. Warren needs to adjust how he works the baseline.

Rest in power, John Lewis and C.T. Vivian.

Be excellent to each other.