by Lang Whitaker

First of all, I haven’t decided on the MVP yet. But I am leaning one way. So leave me alone.

Anyway, it’s Monday and the Playoffs are less than a week away. This is what I’ve been training for all season. Forty games in forty nights? Let me at them!

On Friday night I went to the Hawks/Knicks game, for no real reason other than I wanted to see some amazing basketball being played. Unfortunately, Hawks/Knicks was the only game in town. I was in the Hawks locker room before the game and was chatting with my main man Josh Smith, who was reminiscing about his first appearance in SLAM as a high schooler.

“I had a pair of red adidas on,” J-Smoove recalled. “They were the T-Macs, the old T-Macs. They didn’t match anything else I was wearing, anything our team had on. They even had “SAMPLE” stamped on the inside. I just wanted people to know I had some exclusives.”

As Josh was talking, a camera crew from the Knicks’ MSG television network entered the locker room, and they approached Josh for an interview. Josh agreed, and I slipped aside to talk business with Josh Childress about his next Tech Corner column in SLAM. (You mag readers know that Josh Childress writes a very entertaining monthly column in SLAM about the latest gadgets and gizmos, don’t you?)

When Smoove finished the interview, he sidled over to me and said, “You live here in New York right?”

I replied that I, indeed, live in New York City.

“Take this, then,” he said, and he handed me a small envelope and then disappeared into the trainer’s room. A few minutes later, I opened it and found a gift certificate to a swanky Manhattan steakhouse called Frankie and Johnnie’s. Apparently it was given to Josh as thanks for him appearing on the MSG pregame show. And since the Hawks were flying out after the game, Josh didn’t have much use for it. So he gave it to me. And with the salary disparity between Josh and I inherent, I didn’t need to tell him that I could probably find much use for it.

Problem: there’s no dollar value on it, no expiration, nothing. And as much as I’d like to tell Wifey that I’d like to surprise her with a nice steak dinner and then slyly use the certificate, I also imagine going in and sitting down and then, when the bill comes, whipping out my gift certificate only to find it’s worth something like $10.

So I think I’ll just hang on to it, at least until the Hawks come to town next season. And then, Josh, dinner’s on me.

• One of my favorite quotes of the year came from Allen Iverson yesterday, who noted in an aside that sleeping is “one of my biggest hobbies.” Maybe something Melo should look into.

• Speaking of Atlanta, Forbes magazine recently selected Atlanta as the most tortured sports city in the United States.

I could write a long rebuttal, but I think I can adequately debunk this with one question: Is this the same Forbes magazine that selected Kevin McHale as the best GM in all of sports?

Thanks for playing, Forbes! Make sure all you readers out there return next week for SLAM’s definitive list of the 10 best CEO’s in the business world.

• If the Sonics move to Oklahoma City, the best play-by-play guy not named Marv Albert says he’s not going with them. There’s still a chance they don’t get approved to move, if the other owners around the NBA don’t give them a majority vote of approval. And with so many fans against the move, you’d think maybe some owners would try to placate the fans and vote down the move (like Mark Cuban says he will do). But at the same time, realize that in back of every one of these owner’s minds is the thought, “Well, what if I have to move my team someday…”

Meanwhile, the David Stern Robot says Clay Bennett did nothing wrong…even though he was secretly sending emails about trying to move to Oklahoma City while publicly saying he had no plans to move.

I didn’t really have any attachment to either side in this argument up until now. If a guy wants to move a team and he pays the money to buy the team, he can move that team — that’s his right. And I think everyone knew Bennett was being at best disingenuous all along. But now that the emails have been uncovered, and Stern is still backing his buddy? That’s just not right. NBA fans all around the world deserve better, and David Stern has to understand that.

And for whatever it’s worth, even with all the history and protests involved with what could be the Sonics’ final home game, the game still wasn’t a sellout.

• This might be the most exciting thing I’ve read all day: Did anyone know Billy King used to host a movie review show? If he ever wants to return to reviewing movies, we can partner him up with Omar here on SLAMonline.

And what kind of movie reviews did King file? “Gigli was brilliant, one of the greatest films of all time! And make sure you don’t miss Waterworld, out now on DVD!”

• Gary Payton says he could be hosting a talk show on ESPN. If so, I’m watching. He better hire The Reignman as his sidekick.

• The Grizzlies had a collapse at the season finale which, surprisingly, didn’t involve basketball.

• Good thing Shaq wasn’t announcing the Masters.

• And finally, today’s video of the day, starring Tim Duncan (found via Undrafted Free Agent). I think the Gatorade must’ve given Timmy a short…