It’s a small thing and I don’t know how it started, it’s not my practice to hug players, but when Phoenix travels to town, G Diana Taurasi always gives me a squeeze. We chat for a bit, sometimes I interview her for a minute and the day goes on.
Well, she didn’t hug me after her extreme DUI charges in July that prompted me to write that she shouldn’t be part of the WNBA All-Star game. I doubt she reads this blog or anything, but maybe someone in her circle told her I was pretty harsh. But even getting the traditional hug after shoot-around on Sept. 10 doesn’t melt those feelings.
I’ve read columns and arguments about why Taurasi’s off-court actions shouldn’t be held against her. Everyone deserves a second chance — a belief I agree with – and she was suspended two games by the league. Yet, given the case isn’t settled, delayed until later this month where I’m sure it’ll be pushed back again, I don’t think off-court behavior should be ignored when talking about titles like MVP.
At least known off-court behavior. I love Taurasi’s style of play and she is right there with Storm F Lauren Jackson and Los Angeles F Candace Parker in terms of greatest young players the game has ever seen. I disagree when fans want to call Taurasi a “thug,” complaining about her competitive spirit. Like Cappie Pondexter’s hair or Suzy Batkovic-Brown’s three-pointer, Taurasi’s fire adds a unique quirk to the game.
She’s the best player in the league this season, but got caught doing something a lot of us may have been guilty of doing in our younger days. Because of who she is and the severity of the charges, I can’t knowingly place the MVP tag on her. Especially since there really isn’t a drop off in my next choice, San Antonio G Becky Hammon. It’s just that they’re different types of players.
So Hammon is my MVP. Not by default. Look at Hammon’s stats – ranking second in overall scoring (19.5 and tied for third in assists 5.0) Because I also value character in those who represent the WNBA and this season, Hammon had both.
Hopefully Taurasi and I will hug it out later.
Here’s the rest of my ballot. Enjoy!
Rookie of the Year
DeWanna Bonner, Phoenix (went with consistency)
Sixth Woman of the Year
Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta (truly the definition of what you want a reserve to do)
Most Improved Player
Tanisha Wright, Seattle (she saved team from dipping below second)
Defensive Player of the Year
Erika de Souza, Atlanta (almost made it CP3, but went with consistency, again)
Coach of the Year
Marynell Meadors, Atlanta (made some tough GM moves and changed culture in ATL)
Kim Perrot Sportsmanship
Candice Wiggins, Minnesota (does a lot in community and seems to look out for peers)
F Diana Taurasi
F Tamika Catchings
C Candace Parker
G Becky Hammon
G Sue Bird
F Lauren Jackson
F Katie Douglas
C Erika de Souza
G Deanna Nolan
G Cappie Pondexter