LeBron wins NBA MVP


LeBron wins NBA MVP

MIAMIHeat forward LeBron James is the NBA's MVP for a third time, putting him alongside some of the game's all-time greats.

A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press that James will be announced Saturday as this year's winner of the league's top individual honor, and that he'll be formally presented with the trophy by Commissioner David Stern on Sunday afternoon before Miami hosts Indiana in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league has not announced the results.

James is winning the award for the third time in four seasons. Only seven other playersKareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malonehave at least three MVP trophies.

James said last week that while another MVP award "would be amazing and would be humbling," it's not what drives him. In his ninth season, James still has not won an NBA title and it's clear that, although he wanted to reclaim the MVP trophy, winning a championship is far and away his top basketball priority.

"What I'm all about is team and ever since I was a kid, I was always taught it's team first," James told the AP on Friday. "My first time playing basketball, we went undefeated and won a championship and Frank Walker Sr. gave everyone on the team a MVP trophy. Right then and there, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to see my teammates reap the benefits as well."

Abdul-Jabbar won the MVP six times, Jordan and Russell five times each, Chamberlain four times. After this weekend, they'll be the only players with more than James.

"I think he's probably as committed as he's ever been in his career," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said this week, asked to summarize James' season. "And he's always been committed. ... We all respond to his energy on the court."

James averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assistsmaking him only the fourth player with those totals in at least two different seasons, according to STATS LLC, joining Oscar Robertson (five times), John Havlicek (twice) and Bird (twice).

Add James' 53 percent shooting and 1.9 steals per game into the mix, and the club gets even more exclusive. Only Jordan had a season with numbers exceeding what James did this season in those categories1988-89, when he averaged 32.5 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and 2.9 steals on 54 percent shooting.

And Jordan wasn't even the MVP that year, the trophy going to Johnson instead.

"I think LeBron is an MVP candidate every year," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said last month. "It's just who he is. He only does everything. So I don't know what more you can ask from him.

"LeBron, to me, is the favorite every year," Rivers added. "The years he doesn't win it, it'll usually be because people are just tired of voting for him. Statistically, if you go all-around game, I don't know how you don't vote for him every year."

The MVP votes will be revealed Saturday. Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant was thought to be James' top competition for the MVP, after winning the NBA scoring title for a third straight season. Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs also had seasons that generated some MVP buzz.

James' teammates also lobbied for him to be defensive player of the year this season, noting that probably no one else in the league routinely plays four positions on offense while sometimes being asked to guard anyone from a point guard to a center on defense. James was fourth in that balloting.

"LeBron has been unbelievable," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said before the playoffs. "He's done it at both ends, every night, offensively and defensively."

Last season's MVP, Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, appeared in only 39 of 66 regular-season games this season because of a variety of injuries. His season ended in Game 1 of the Bulls' first-round playoff series against Philadelphia, when he tore a knee ligament.

Many in the Heat organization thought James should have won the award a year ago as well, when he dealt with constant fallout from "The Decision" to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent and sign with Miami, where he, Wade and Chris Bosh formed a "Big Three" that has been celebrated at home and reviled in just about every other NBA arena.

James has said he played more out of anger and to silence criticism than anything else last season. So this season, his mindset changed, with him trying to revert to old ways, first as a superstar-in-waiting at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, then during his seven seasons with the Cavaliers.

It apparently worked.

"I wanted to get back to who I was as a person," James said.

It's the first time that the Heat will be hosting an MVP celebration.

Shaquille O'Neal won his only MVP award before coming to Miami, and James won the 2009 and 2010 trophies with the Cavalierscollecting 225 of a possible 244 first-place votes in those seasons.

The NBA MVP trophy is named for Maurice Podoloff, the league's first commissioner. Heat assistant coach Bob McAdoo won the award once, for the Buffalo Braves in 1975.

Mitch Trubisky practiced in full on Thursday


Mitch Trubisky practiced in full on Thursday

As Chicago continues to analyze Mitch Trubisky’s hip and figure out if his benching was actually injury related or performance related, the injury report from practice makes it seem like he should play on Sunday.

Trubisky was a full participant in practice on Thursday, just as he was on Wednesday. Back-to-back full practices would seem to indicate he should be full go for Sunday’s game against the Giants.

If not, then chaos will ensue.

As for the rest of the injury report, offensive lineman Bobby Massie was not limited with his back injury while linebacker Isaiah Irving was limited with a quad injury.

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Will Eddy Pineiro be the Bears’ kicker in 2020?

USA Today

Will Eddy Pineiro be the Bears’ kicker in 2020?

Back in early October, while the Bears basked in the glow of Eddy Pineiro hitting a game-winning kick and then gutting through the pain of a pinched nerve to make nine of his next 10 kicks, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said something that explains the team’s approach to their now-struggling young kicker. 

“We’re in the process of developing a player,” Tabor said. “He’s checking off boxes. … There’s going to be a lot more boxes to check off. I always say we’re not in a hurry to hit everything.

“It’s a developmental process. As things come up, let’s address it, go after it and just take it day by day, just kinda keep getting better step by step.”

Pineiro’s developmental process has not been linear in 2019. It was on a steady incline until Week 8, when he missed two field goals — including a game-winner from 41 yards and non-preferred hashmark — against the Los Angeles Chargers. 

Then, in Los Angeles on Sunday, Pineiro missed two field goals in the first quarter from 47 and 48 yards. Sandwiched between those misses was a decision by coach Matt Nagy to try to convert a fourth-and-nine instead of having Pineiro attempt a 49-yard field goal. 

Pineiro’s line over the last month, then, has precipitously trended down to the point where the city’s mayor took a shot at him during a press conference. But the Bears did not bring in a kicker or kickers for a tryout this week at Halas Hall, instead remaining steadfast in their commitment to Pineiro being their kicker. 

“I have confidence in him,” Tabor said Thursday. “We just (told him) ‘hey, you're our guy, let's go.’ So that's the deal. But at the same time, it's a production-based business. You need to make kicks.”

Pineiro has made 12 of 17 field goals (70.6 percent) this year, along with 17 of 18 extra points. But he’s missed four of his last 14 kicks (field goals and PATs), leading to his coach not exhibiting much trust in him with his actions, even if his words say differently. 

“We’re all frustrated,” Nagy said. “He knows he wants to make those. But now it’s going to be a challenge to, let’s see him come back here and nail it. I have ultimate faith that he’s going to do that and now we’ll see when he’s given the chance.” 

How much longer the Bears remain patient with Pineiro, though, remains to be seen. It’s clear they like him inside Halas Hall and believe in his potential and leg strength — if they didn’t, they could’ve brought in a few kickers off the street for a tryout to at least try to light a fire under him — but Nagy’s actions on gamedays do not indicate a deep, unrelenting trust. 

And that’s a problem for the Bears as the focus shifts to if this team can contend again in 2020. Nagy will need to be able to trust whoever his kicker is next year, at least to the point where he’s not tempted to try to convert a fourth-and-long instead of kicking a long-ish field goal. 

Still, the Bears are giving Pineiro the first — and best — opportunity to prove himself worthy of being their kicker of the future. The Bears may bring in OTA and minicamp competition for him regardless, but the final six games of 2019 will be about building a foundation of trust between coach and kicker. 

That is, assuming the Bears’ trust in Pineiro’s talent doesn’t run out between now and the end of December. 

If it does, the Bears could be right back in the same place they were earlier this year: A national punchline for kicking woes, and a team without any answers. 

“He’s a good player,” Tabor said Thursday. “There’s no doubt about that. He had a rough night. … This is the next challenge in his development. How’s he gonna bounce back? And I think he’ll bounce back well.”

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