Why announce the NBA’s annual regular-season awards via cold and impersonal press conferences when you can roll out the red carpet and do it in a star-studded, prime-time TV event?
On Monday night at 9 p.m. ET on TNT, the league will air its first annual NBA Awards Show, which will include all the yearly categories like Most Valuable Player, Sixth Man of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, etc., plus a host of other new awards.
Think of it as the ESPYs, only without being bogged down by all of those other annoying sports. Monday’s event will be a great beta test for whether this type of show has enough legs to become an annual event (unlike the NBPA Players’ Awards, which has been drastically scaled back after its debut in the summer of 2015).
Here are the top five reasons to watch:
An obsequious hoops fan, the Canadian-born rap-boy wonder is the perfect/most obvious choice to emcee this awards show. He has experience hosting the ESPYs and is generally adept at making himself the center of attention even among a sea of fellow celebrities. Plus, Drake’s fandom is like water. It takes the shape of whatever container it happens to be poured into at the moment, so there should be a sufficiently-permeable objectiveness to the proceedings.
With all due respect to the “Anaconda” songstress, we were a little disappointed they couldn’t get Rihanna to perform, if only to witness Jeff Van Gundy’s unquenchable thirst one more time. Regardless, you know Nicki Minaj always brings the heat to her live performances, so it’ll be worth the watch just to find out what kind of ostentatious set designs and elaborate choreography she has in store for us.
The Individual Play Awards
Given that we spend so much time and energy as soon as the season starts to identifying early “Dunk of the Year” candidates and so forth, it’s nice to see these honorifics will finally earn a little more well-deserved fanfare. There are, of course, the main categories like Assist of the Year, Block of the Year, etc., but then there are some more interesting wrinkles added to the mix like Performance of the Year and Best Playoff Moment. For instance, would you take Devin Booker’s 70-point outburst over the game where Klay Thompson dropped 60 points through three quarters?
The Best Style Award
Every week is Fashion Week during the NBA season, and some of this year’s most memorable sartorial decisions pulled double duty as not-so-subtle shots fired at rivals. Thinks Russell Westbrook’s photographer vest or the Washington Wizards’ funereal ensembles. As if they needed another reason to show off their style, the league is now handing out an award for this, which will only make things that much more competitive going forward.
The Most Valuable Player Award
Given Russell Westbrook’s statistical demolition derby this season, it seems unfathomable that this is even a debate. Yet, here we are, thanks to a certain sect of the basketball intelligentsia who wants to argue that James Harden was just as, if not more so, impressive. We won’t waste anymore digital ink outlining the arguments for either side. There’ll be plenty of time for that even after the winner is announced as irate fans will surely flock to social media to voice their displeasure.
Russell Westbrook claims he doesn’t care about these types of awards, but a win here would surely offer some vindication against his chorus of detractors, particularly in light of Kevin Durant skipping town to join Golden State. We may never adequately solve the conundrum of what “most valuable” means in this context, but that’s also why it’s the most compelling and divisive award given out each year.