The “Dirk for MVP” campaign has started in Mavericks-land. The push started Thursday night when the Mavericks gave away 20,000 MVP T-shirts. “We’re not doing anything cutting edge here,” coach Avery Johnson said.
“That’s why fans scream MVP when guys are at the free throw line. They’re campaigning for him. When I used to shoot free throws, they didn’t say that.’’
“It’s about time,’’ said teammate Devin Harris. “I think last year we came in kind of late with it.
“But he’s been doing great things and even realizing what he has to do to make us better, like stepping back to let Josh (Howard) step up and that sort of thing.’’
That’s the sort of things leaders do, Harris said.
“Leadership is realizing the smart basketball play, whether you’re double-teamed and find the open guy or whatever,’’ he said. “Dirk’s been doing that.’’
A LIKELY STORY
The Lakers have had quite a season off the court.
First there was the Kwame Brown’s birthday cake caper in Hermosa Beach.
That’s where Brown took a piece of cake, threw it at a teammate and ended up hitting a bystander who wanted to press charges.
Now, there’s the possible regular-season-ending injury to Vladimir Radmanovich.
Radmanovich, a disappointing free agent (6.9 points and 3.4 rebounds in the first season of a five-year, $30.2-million deal), slipped on some ice in Park City, Utah, during the All-Star break and separated his shoulder.
“It was just a patch of ice. I had my hands in my pocket and I didn’t have time to put them out.”
Or was he skiing or snowboarding when he hit that patch of ice?
Coach Phil Jackson, asked what he thought, paused several seconds, then said: “After we get Pinkerton on the case, we’ll get back to you.
“We have to accept that story and go from there.”
During last week’s Trail Blazer game at Orlando, Magic TV analyst Matt Guokas ripped Zach Randolph for his lack of interest in defending.
He called the Blazers power forward “a lollygagger on defense ... he refuses to run back on the defensive end, which is unnerving to the head coach and the other guys on the floor.”
Later, Guokas — once head coach of the Magic and 76ers — shed light on why Randolph has yet to be an All-Star.
“He shoots, thinks he’s fouled and stops to look at the official, or he takes a little step and lets the play go by him,” Guokas said. “Many times in the first half, he didn’t even bother to take three steps toward midcourt.
“He has never been a diligent defender, but the simple act of running back on defense is important.”
Guokas says several factors, including the number of off-court incidents Randolph has had, play into his failure to make the All-Star game.
“(The Blazers) are not a playoff team,” Guokas says.
“I could see where a Portland apologist would question (Utah’s) Mehmet Okur, but he’s a better all-around player on one of the best teams in the conference.
Mike Bibby is slumping, and he could bring his coach down with him.
Bibby, perhaps distracted by trade rumors, averaged 9.7 points and 28.2 minutes in the four games preceding the break, then scored just 10 points vs. the Celtics in the Kings’ first game back.
His playing time also has diminished, and coach Eric Musselman would not say why, other than, “We’re just searching for combinations.”
Coaches who are still searching for combinations this late in the season don’t look good. He could be on his way out.
Same goes for Bibby. Though the West would be his preference, the Cavs could be a landing spot for him.
The last word
“He’s crazy. Charles Barkley said it best. He said Scottie retired because he couldn’t play anymore. He feels good now because he’s not running up and down that floor every night. He hasn’t improved in the last three years has he?”
RON HARPER, PISTONS ASSISTANT COACH AND FORMER TEAMMATE OF SCOTTIE PIPPEN ON PIPPEN’S INTENT TO RETURN TO PLAYING
The Trail Blazers already have eclipsed last year’s NBA-worst 21-61 record and have won 11 games on the road after going 6-35 away from home a year ago.
A Sports Illustrated poll of 271 NBA players asking who is the fastest player in the league was released this week, with Raptors guard T.J. Ford winning with 25 percent of the vote. Next closest: Denver’s Allen Iverson, 18 percent; and the Suns’ Leandro Barbosa was third with 9 percent.
One more year
The Rockets’ Dikembe Mutombo has declared his intention to play next season.
“I will play next year. My hope is that I will play here.
“After spending time with the family, I asked myself if should I do this thing again? It’s a hard process traveling all the time and being away from them. I had a nice talk with my wife and my kids and I told them that I would like to play again. They were very supportive about that position.”
Did you know?
The Mavericks are just the fourth NBA team to have recorded three 10-game win streaks.
The others: the 1970-71 Bucks (16, 10 and 20), the ’80-81 76ers (12, 10 and 10) and the ’99-00 Lakers (16, 19 and 11).
The Pistons’ Rasheed Wallace picked up his 15th technical on Wednesday. His next “T” will earn him a suspension.
Yao Ming (broken leg bone) says he’s about two weeks away from playing, though the Rockets’ medical staff isn’t sure.