Following are opinions from Mille Lacs County Times editor-sports editor Gary Larson, reporter Luther Dorr and former Times intern Logan Marxhausen. Note: This feature is written on Monday each week.
•Question: Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin reportedly told the team last week that he wanted to be traded. General manager Rick Spielman later said the team wasn’t interested in trading Harvin. It was speculated that Harvin may want his contract renegotiated. He will receive $915,000 this season, the fourth in a five-year deal. That’s less than two other Viking receivers who don’t have Harvin’s production numbers are slated to get this season. Should the team cough up a few more bucks and renegotiate Harvin’s contract?
-Dorr: I think you will see the contract renegotiated. Harvin is a great all-purpose player who apparently doesn’t like to practice. Although he hasn’t missed as many games as a Viking as some think, he does seem to miss practices. I think his latest outburst is a bit of posturing to get a better contract.
-Marxhausen: After what Harvin has done for the team, the only proper thing to ensure his future with the team is a contract extension. The thing Harvin has going against him is proneness to sitting out. His migraine problem, which has plagued his playing time, is the only thing that he has going against him at the moment. When the receiving game is down, the Vikings call on Harvin to make a big play. When the rushing game is stalled, the Vikings ask Harvin to make a big run. The Vikings call on Harvin time and time again and have not shown much gratitude back in his direction. The team has said it has no interest in dealing Harvin. The Vikings can at least reward him for his production.
-Larson: Quick, name another receiver or two on the Vikings’ roster. Pretty tough, isn’t it? Harvin is the team’s best and most reliable receiver and right now, no one is even close. And, he’s one of the team’s few stars. Keep him happy, cough up some more money Vikings and extend his contract another couple of years.
•Question: The Miami Heat won four-straight games to handle the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA finals, four games to one. Were you surprised? Last year the team’s “Big Three” vowed to win multiple playoff titles in a row. Do you think that will happen?
-Dorr: I was not surprised that the Heat beat Oklahoma City. I picked Miami a couple weeks ago in this very column. I just figured the motivation would be there because the star players had received so much criticism after going nowhere the previous season. Can those players keep it going for another season? That will be interesting to watch because many people think it is harder to repeat a championship than to win one.
-Marxhausen: In a broadcast interview when the “Big Three” got together, I believe they started talking of winning up to seven titles in a row. Seven in a row is a little too extreme for my taste. They have a strong chance to repeat next season with this momentum wave going. I don’t think they will repeat next season. They have the talent but I feel they won’t have the same luck next season. Look at the competition Miami and Oklahoma faced in the playoffs. Miami had to face inconsistent New York, too-young Indiana and too-old Boston to make it to the finals. The Thunder had to face last-year’s winner Dallas, five-time champion Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles and then, the team with the most depth in the league, San Antonio. I don’t think that the Heat will have the same luck next season.
-Larson: After picking Oklahoma City, I was surprised the Heat won the title, especially by the ease with which it did it. Miami proved it was the NBA’s best team. What happened to the youthful energy Oklahoma displayed against San Antonio?
The biggest threat to Miami in the East when the playoffs began was Chicago. But, the Bulls’ hopes ended when star guard Derrick Rose was injured in the opening round and lost for the playoffs. Experts say Rose, who suffered a nasty injury, will likely not return until next January or February and could miss the 2012-2013 season altogether. If Rose isn’t playing at full tilt when next year’s playoffs begin, no one will stop Miami’s drive to the finals. In the West, the usual contenders, San Antonio, Dallas and Los Angeles, will be too old to challenge the Thunder. So, it looks like another Heat-Thunder championship series. With the Thunder a year older and a bit wiser, the Heat will face a major challenge in extending it title streak beyond one.
•Question: Did LeBron James, both the NBA regular season and playoff MVP, establish himself this season as the NBA’s current best player?
-Dorr: I think it would be fair to say that James would be considered the best player in the NBA today. Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City is considered by many to be the best offensive player in the league but James is more of an all-around player at this point.
-Marxhausen: James was the best player of the 2011-2012 shortened season. He is a great player with phenomenal talent but he only established himself as a winner this season. I would say that Dirk Nowitzki was the best player last season and Kobe Bryant was in 2010. James is not an absolute No. 1 in my book until he can repeat like Bryant did, but he has established himself as the best current player. The title is up for grabs next season and so is the title of current best player.
-Larson: I held out for Kobe Bryant being the NBA’s best player until a couple seasons ago when James became my choice. James can dominate in all categories and he still is No. 1.
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