It's Almost Unanimous: O'neal Is The Mvp He Received 120 Of 121 Votes. Allen Iverson Got The Other Vote Or Nba History Would Have Been Made.

Posted: May 10, 2000

Only 76ers guard Allen Iverson kept Shaquille O'Neal from becoming the first player in NBA history to win the league's MVP award by a unanimous vote.

The 7-foot-1 Los Angeles Lakers center, who led the league in scoring and field-goal percentage, received 120 of 121 votes from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Iverson got the other vote - cast by CNN/SI broadcaster Fred Hickman.

Shaq's 99.2 percentage of the vote was the highest since the league introduced the award in 1955-56. Michael Jordan received 96.5 percent of the vote in 1995-96.

"That was kind of hard to believe," O'Neal said. "I've always thought that Michael Jordan, Magic and Kareem and Wilt were the greatest players in the NBA."

O'Neal received 1,207 points in the voting. Minnesota's Kevin Garnett was second with 407 and Miami's Alonzo Mourning was third with 367. Iverson was seventh with 132.

O'Neal was practically a sure thing in the balloting. He led the Lakers to a 67-15 record, second best in franchise history, and made them prohibitive favorites for their first title since 1988.

"You take Shaq away from the Lakers and you've still got a great team," Hickman said. "You take Iverson away from the 76ers and they are the Clippers, the Hawks. They are no longer contenders."

O'Neal won his second scoring title this season, averaging a career-high 29.7 points. He also led the NBA in field-goal percentage (.574), was second in rebounding with a 13.6 average, and averaged 3.03 blocks and a career-high 3.8 assists.

Grizzlies. Stu Jackson, who guided the Vancouver Grizzlies through their turbulent first five NBA seasons, resigned as president and general manager.

His departure came a day before new owner Michael Heisley was expected to announce his firing and one day after coach Lionel Hollins was fired.

Jackson, the first person hired by the Grizzlies when they began operations in 1994, left to become senior vice president of basketball operations with the NBA office in New York.

Hollins, also an original member of the organization, was told of his dismissal when telephoned at his Phoenix home by Dick Versace.

Versace, a former NBA coach and broadcaster, is expected to become president of basketball operations; Billy Knight, the Indiana Pacers vice-president of basketball operations, the new general manager, and Tony Barone the director of player personnel.

Pistons. George Irvine, who after being named interim coach late last season said he wasn't interested in being a full-time coach, will begin negotiations with the club through his attorney. Irvine said he liked being the bench boss more than he first imagined.

New arenas don't draw. Though new arenas opened in Indianapolis, Miami, Los Angeles, Toronto, Atlanta and Denver, the Pacers were the only team in their new quarters to sell out every home game.

Of teams ranking in the top 16 in attendance, 14 advanced to the playoffs. The Chicago Bulls, who finished with the second-worst record in the NBA, sold out every game to lead the league in attendance. San Antonio, Portland, New York, Utah, Phoenix, Los Angeles, the 76ers, Toronto and Indiana rounded out the top 10.

None of the five teams that finished at the bottom of attendance figures - Atlanta, Orlando, Vancouver, the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State - went on to the postseason.

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