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Volume 27 No. 5
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          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 "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" (, 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).