SPREAD FRED: HICKMAN HEARS IT FROM COLLEAGUES OVER MVP VOTE
Lakers C Shaquille O'Neal was a near unanimous choice
to win the NBA's MVP Award yesterday, with only CNN/SI's
Fred Hickman voting for 76ers G Allen Iverson. FSN's Kevin
Frazier, on Hickman's lone dissenting vote: "No disrespect
to Allen, but my guy was obviously tripping." FSN's Marques
Johnson, on Hickman: "What happened? Some of Allen
Iverson's boys had his daughter tied up in a Brooklyn
basement, there was some extortion going on? It's really
hard to fathom how this guy could not vote for Shaquille
O'Neal." FSN's Jack Haley: "For Fred Hickman not to vote
for Shaquille O'Neal is one of two things: either a
publicity stunt or total ignorance for the game of
basketball" ("TNSR," 5/9). On "TNT," Peter Vecsey: "Fred
obviously thinks that CNN/SI is 'Shaq Ineligible.' ... I
think Fred should have a new game show" ("NBA on TNT," 5/9).
Lakers Exec VP Jerry West: "God, I feel sorry for the one
guy who didn't vote for [O'Neal]" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/10).
FRED'S DEFENSE: Last night on "Sports Tonight," Hickman
held up O'Neal's No. 34 Lakers jersey and said, "I love you
Shaq-man. I'm not player-hating, OK. I love you, man.
Don't hit me. You're still my guy" ("Sports Tonight,"
CNN/SI, 5/9). Hickman defended his vote on CNNSI.com: "I am
amazed by the uproar my vote ... has drawn. ... If I were
asked today to pick a player to start my own franchise with
it would be Shaq in a heartbeat. But asked who the most
valuable player of this past season is, I stay with Iverson.
No reservations, no regrets" (CNNSI.com, 5/9). Hickman
tells the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION that he voted for Iverson
"thoughtfully, and I would do it again. I have no problem
with anybody voting for Shaq, but why anyone has a problem
with me, I don't get it. I can sleep with my decision. If
I'd voted for [Bulls backup C] Chris Anstey, I could
understand the reaction" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/10).