Woodward, Okla. —
Despite leading the league for a third straight season in blocked shots, Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka finished third in the Defensive Player of the Year voting, which was announced Wednesday.
Memphis center Marc Gasol received 212 points and 30 first-place votes to edge Miami’s LeBron James, who had 149 points and 18 first-place votes. Ibaka collected 122 points and 14 first-place votes.
Ibaka ended the regular season with 242 total blocked shots, 36 more than second-place Larry Sanders. Gasol was 10th with 136.
Ibaka finished second to Tyson Chandler for the award last season.
The Thunder have come up short in all three awards the NBA has handed out so far. Tuesday, Kevin Martin came in third in the Sixth Man of the Year voting and Ibaka was 10th in the Most Improved category.
“I’m not hating, but the NBA just give awards away,” Thunder teammate Kendrick Perkins tweeted. “Serge don’t get defensive player of the year. That don’t make any sense. That is Terrible. Too many politics.”
Coach Scott Brooks didn’t get into whether Ibaka should have won the award, but he said his team is full of players who could make the all-defensive squad.
“I think he’s going to be considered a candidate every year,” Brooks said. “We expect and he delivers on the defensive end for us. I feel like we have a team full of defenders. They all should be considered. I don’t pay much attention to who gets it, I just know our guys are focused on doing things as a team.”
Fisher on Kobe: Before the Thunder were even conceived, Derek Fisher was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. The veteran guard won five titles with the franchise, alongside Kobe Bryant. So when he got the news of Bryant’s season-ending injury two weeks ago, it hit him hard.
“We’ve been in contact,” Fisher said. “I think whether you like him or not in terms of a basketball fan, I think we are all impacted in some way with what happened to him. As far as I’m concerned, if there is any person that’s every played the game or been involved in sports that can come back from such a devastating injury, in his mid 30s, (Kobe) would be the person I’d pick to come back and set the example for how to do it.”