More MVP talk around the league with Jon Barry making the wonderfully decisive call: “If the New Orleans Hornets win the West’s pitched regular-season battle, I’ve got Chris Paul. If the Hornets don’t win the West, I’ve got Kobe Bryant no matter what.” Thank you Jon, you can now jump off that fence you’re sitting on. I know the MVP race is hard this year but even I managed to rank them in order, kind of. For the record Kobe has jumped Lebron in my rankings and is now sitting at #2 behind Paul. Without Gasol he’s really stepped it up: he’s averaging a Lebron-esque 29-7-7 over his last five games which includes impressive road wins over Dallas, Utah (only their fourth home loss all season) and Golden State. CP3 is still my #1 though. Today he had another impressive 31 point, 14 assist outing which is not actually all that impressive because he seems to do it every couple of games. It was actually the seventh 30-10 game Paul has had this season – in the last twenty years only 8 players have had more 30-10 games in a season. Lebron is still #3 for me because the Cavs stock is slipping and quite simply, the Lakers and Hornets are blowing every one away. Plus, it looks like Lebron is not going to reach the magical 30-8-8 mark set by MJ and MJ only back in 1988-89. Still, Lebron’s season surely tops the list of most impressive all-round statistical seasons of the new millenium. That list, from earliest to most recent, is as follows:

Chris Webber: 27.1pts, 11.1rebs, 4.2ass (2000-2001)
Tracy McGrady: 32.1pts, 6.5rebs, 5.5ass (2002-2003)
Kevin Garnett: 23.0pts, 13.9rebs, 6.0ass (2002-2003)
Kobe Bryant: 30.0pts, 6.9rebs, 5.9ass (2002-2003)
Lebron James: 31.4, 7.0reb, 6.6ass (2005-2006)
Kobe Bryant: 35.4pts, 5.3rebs, 4.5ass (2005-2006)
Allen Iverson: 33.0pts, 7.4ass, 3.2reb (2005-2006)
Lebron James: 30.8pts, 8.2reb, 7.3ass (2007-2008)

Chris Webber has retired. I could make a few jokes about how physically disabled he’s been the past few years, how I watched him steal a starting spot for Detroit last season while his vertical leap was approximately three inches. How I laughed out loud when I heard he was going back to Golden State – you think Shaq keeping up with the Suns was unlikely? Webber keeping up with the Warriors would have been one of the modern miracles of science. But instead of all the obvious wheel chair jokes, I prefer to remember Chris Webber like this.

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I actually got a bit emotional watching that clip. I was a Golden State fan through and through back in 92-95. Timmy Hardaway, Chris Mullin, Latrell Sprewell, Mitch Richmond and C-Webb. Those were the days. Watching Webber in that clip, it almost seems like a different player. This is the same guy folks, fifteen years later. It’s eerie. Webber is walking away from the game after achieving very little over his last few years. But I won’t remember that. I won’t remember his years in Philly, his comeback to Detroit, or even the fact that he lied to a grand jury. I’ll remember him as the superstar power forward who made 20-10-5 games look easier than anyone I’ve seen not named Kevin Garnett. The Sacramento star who almost lead his team past the powerhouse Lakers during the peak of their reign. The guy that went around his back and dunked on Charles Barkley. The guy famous for hugging his teammates. “One of the best power forwards to ever play in the NBA” Pistons president Joe Dumars said. One of only six guys ever to average 20 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists over their career (his company ain’t bad: Bird, Wilt, Baylor, KG and Billy Cunningham). That’s the Chris Webber I’ll remember. Thanks for the memories Chris.

A few weeks back I wrote that Lamar Odom seems to enjoy playing alongside Pau Gasol. Well now Pau is injured, but Odom’s form hasn’t wavered. In fact, Lamar Odom has officially gone nuts. He is playing the best ball of his career now – without doubt. Lamar Odom is 8th in the league in rebounding. Lamar Odom is averaging 17 and 13 with 1.7 blocks and 1.4 steals throughout the month of March while shooting 57%. The guy has been shooting about 60% over his last 27 games! Against the Warriors yesterday he had his second straight 20-20 game. You wanna know something ridiculous? Not even Shaquille O’Neal had back-to-back 20-20 games as a Laker. People often like comparing him to Scottie Pippen but I don’t remember Scottie ever having back-to-back 20-20 games. He’s filling out in to one of the more complete players in the league, and he’s only started doing it with the pressure of being “No. 2″ off his shoulders. Remember two years ago in the playoffs when the Lakers almost upset the Suns in the first round. People will look back on the series, remembering Kobe’s heroics in game 4, and assume that Kobe was carrying the Lakers hopes in that series. But you go and watch those games and you’ll realize something very different – Lamar Odom was the man. He opened that series up for LA and allowed them to exploit the Suns lack of size and rebounding, while he distributed the ball like a point guard. It was Odom who top scored in that game 4 with 25 points, to go with 8 rebounds and 5 assists. It was Odom’s monster 15 point, 17 rebound, 3 block performance that set up the Lakers win in game 3. My point is that if the Lakers are to make noise in this year’s playoffs, they need Lamar to be playing at that level. Oh wait, he is right now. Lucky for them hey?

Three games to care about tomorrow:
Boston v Phoenix – I would pick the Celtics in a landslide if I didn’t think they had lost all interest in the regular season and were more concerned with keeping their stars healthy. This game just means so much more for the Suns. Which is all the more reason they should be upset when they lose.

New Orleans v Cleveland – Two MVP-candidates go head to head. Two things can happen here. Chris Paul could single-handedly kill off Lebron’s chance of winning MVP. Or Lebron wakes up and reminds everyone why he shouldn’t be left out of the race. The Paul-killing-Lebron scenario is more likely in my opinion.

Detroit v Toronto – A possible first-round preview given how bad the Raptors have been playing. They seemed like a lock for a first-round encounter with the Cavs only a week ago, but now they seem destined to finish 7th because Philly just continue to rocket through the standings. I know its a little early to start the scare tactics, but Philly is becoming that team that no one wants to face in the first round. They’ve only lost 3 of their last 15, and that streak has included wins over Orlando, Phoenix, Detroit, San Antonio, Denver and Boston – in other words, four of the top six teams in the league. Tomorrow they will kill the Bulls.

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