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Third time was the charm for James Harden.

The Houston Rockets star was voted the NBA’s Most Valuable Player after twice being runner-up Eagles Markus Wheaton Jersey , beating out four-time winner LeBron James and Anthony Davis of the Pelicans at the NBA Awards on Monday night.

Harden joined Michael Jordan as the only players to average at least 20 points, eight assists, five rebounds and 1.7 steals in a season.

He led the league in scoring, 3-pointers and 50-point games with four while helping the Rockets to an NBA-leading 65 wins.

”The last four years have been like knocking on the door, knocking on the door. Now the moment is finally here,” Harden said backstage. ”Just every single year you try to come back and be better than you were the year before, and just to be holding that trophy finally, it means a lot.”

James didn’t attend the show in Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport amid frenzied speculation about his future. He has until Friday to tell the Cavaliers if he will pick up his $35.6 million option for next season or opt for free agency.

Harden, who is from Los Angeles, led his mother on stage before he accepted the trophy from Commissioner Adam Silver.

”I’m not going to get emotional,” he said from behind dark sunglasses. ”She’s my backbone in good times and bad times.”

Harden received a total of 965 points and 86 first-place votes. James finished second with 738 points and 15 first-place votes, while Davis was third with 445 points and no first-place votes.

Harden didn’t prepare a speech.

”I felt like last year I should have won as well Authentic Nate Solder Jersey , so I didn’t see a difference between last year and this year,” he said backstage. ”If I won it, then I was going to go off the top and try to show my appreciation to everybody helping me along the way.”

Harden’s teammate, Chris Paul, popped up among reporters backstage and asked Harden how many bottles of liquor Rockets CEO Tad Brown would have to buy at the next location.

”Couple cases,” Harden said, grinning.

The Rockets had another winner in Daryl Morey, who was honored as Executive of the Year.

In other awards, Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers won Rookie of the Year.

The guard averaged 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, joining Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as the only rookies to post those numbers in a season.

Simmons helped Philadelphia to a 52-30 record, including ending the season with a 16-game winning streak.

He beat out finalists Donovan Mitchell of Utah and Jayson Tatum of Boston.

Guard Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers earned Most Improved Player.

He averaged 23.1 points in his first season with the Pacers while nabbing his first All-Star berth. He also led the league in steals for the first time.

The Defensive Player of the Year went to center Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.

He was the leading vote-getter for the league’s All-Defensive first team while anchoring a Jazz defense that ranked second in the NBA in defensive rating.

Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers took Sixth Man honors.

The guard became the first player to average at least 20 points for the first time in his 13th season or later. He led the league in fourth-quarter points and scoring average.

Williams kissed his two young daughters on his way to the stage after becoming the Clippers’ third winner in the last five years.

Dwane Casey was chosen Coach of the Year for his work with the Toronto Raptors Matt Prater Jersey , who fired him last month. He has since become coach of the Detroit Pistons.

”Can’t look in the rear view mirror,” Casey said backstage. ”Winston Churchill said success is measured by failure, failure, and then come back with enthusiasm, and that’s what I’ve done.”

Casey led the Raptors to the No. 1 seed in the East for the first time in franchise history after winning a team-record 59 games. Casey coached the East in the All-Star Game for the first time.

Casey won over Quin Snyder of Utah and Brad Stevens of Boston.

Robertson received the Lifetime Achievement Award from presenters Charles Barkley and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

After Barkley mentioned last year’s recipient Bill Russell, Boston’s Hall of Fame center flipped his middle finger in Barkley’s direction.

Robertson is the career leader in triple-doubles and was the first player to average one for a season. His antitrust case against the NBA also ushered in free agency for players, which Robertson said was his most important assist.

Backstage, Robertson commended the activism of today’s players, although he wondered why more white athletes aren’t speaking out.

”The only thing that really bothers me is where are the white athletes when this is happening?” he said. ”This is not a black athlete problem. You see injustice in the world. It’s all around.”

Robertson went on to say he hopes ”the whites and the blacks get together, even with the football,” a reference to NFL players who have taken a knee or sat in silence during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

Former NBA player Dikembe Mutombo received the Sager Strong Award, named for the late Turner Sports broadcaster. He donned a garish sports coat similar to what Craig Sager always wore.

The Hustle Award went to Amir Johnson of the 76ers.



During the first day of Bengals minicamp Vita Vea Color Rush Jersey , the offense ran through new plays.

A day later, some of them were gone.

Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor decided they didn’t look as good on the field as they did in his overhauled play book.

”You keep moving, keep evolving,” Lazor said Wednesday before practice. ”That’s what we’re in the process of doing.”

Cincinnati’s offense is a work in progress, a year after it finished last in the league for the first time in franchise history.

Lazor was elevated to interim coordinator after Ken Zampese was fired two games into the season. He’s been retained and given discretion to redesign the playbook.

Players say the terminology and some of the play designs have changed significantly. Fans and the rest of the league won’t start noticing the differences until the season begins. For now, the staff is trying to get the offense into a final form.

Lazor decided on a major overhaul after the Bengals’ 7-9 finish, their second straight losing season. The offense was bad all-around, with Andy Dalton getting little time to throw and the running backs finding little room to run behind a struggling offense line.

”I don’t know if we have enough time to talk about what didn’t go the way we wanted,” Lazor said. ”We’ve got to focus on the now.”

One emphasis in minicamp is setting a standard for practice and encouraging players to hold each other accountable.

”We just keep putting it in front of them: This is our standard,” Lazor said ”This is what we want to establish and what we expect in practice, and continue to put it on the players to help hold each other accountable. To me, the greatest thing we’ve done as a group right now is set the standard.”

Lazor has noticed a different atmosphere since the new playbook was installed.

”I think it got a lot of the players’ attention Adidas Shayne Gostisbehere Jersey , just got people going,” he said.

SOCCER FEVER: Defensive end Carlos Dunlap was delighted to hear that North America won the bid to host the 2026 World Cup. Dunlap grew up playing soccer and basketball in South Carolina – his mother didn’t allow him to become a football player until eighth grade – and he’s attended FC Cincinnati games.

Dunlap is excited about the possibility of attending a World Cup game.

”I’ve tossed it around many times, going over there to see World Cup because the energy they have at their games and stadiums is second to none – unless it’s us against the Pittsburgh Steelers, or the Florida Gators against Georgia in the Cocktail Party,” said Dunlap, who attended Florida. ”It rivals those.”

STILL NO EIFERT: Tight end Tyler Eifert missed a second straight day of practice because of an undisclosed injury. He wasn’t available in the open locker room period, and coach Marvin Lewis declined to provide any specifics. Eifert was on the field in a jersey, but didn’t have a helmet or participate in drills. Eifert signed an incentive-laden, one-year deal after being limited to two games last season because of chronic back problems.



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