There was some level of intrigue at the NBA Awards, but one of those intriguing notes did not involve Victor Oladipo, who as expected, was named the Kia Most Improved Player. Oladipo was officially nominated for the award a month ago, but the expectation that he’d become the fifth player for the Indiana Pacers to win the award in the last 20 years came from before the New Year.
In his fifth season, Oladipo had career bests in in points, shooting, assists, rebounds, and steals, leading the league in the latter with 2.4 per game. The Most Improved Player Award is typically a statistical one, giving Oladipo and obvious leg up, but he also led the Pacers to the playoffs, earning All-NBA Third Team honors and was named to the All-Star Team for the first time.
Oladipo’s suit game was on point for the award ceremony, a shiny floral pattern, bow tie and necklace along with red bottoms:
Oladipo beat out Clint Capela and Spencer Dinwiddie for the award, giving a compassionate speech before the crowd:
First and foremost I want to thank my God in Heaven for giving me the ability to play this game. I want to thank all my family and friends here and at home. I love you all, especially shoutout to my father Chris, my mother Joan, my three sisters, Victoria, Kendra, and Kristine. I always say you guys are my before, my now, and my after, you guys are my everything, so I thank you guys for that.
Shoutout to the Pacers organization for believing in me, all the Indiana Pacers. It’s only the beginning for us, we just getting started. I encourage you guys here and everybody at home to continue to lend a helping hand, to continue to change lives. We’re in a tough time in our lives right now and in the world, and I encourage you guys to do that and if we continue to do that we’ll save a lot a lives and change lives and that’s what it’s all about, right? So, I encourage you guys to do that. One love. Stay feathery, too.
Oladipo also received congratulations from his teammates on the award:
Was it even a debate?— Myles Turner (@Original_Turner) June 26, 2018
S/O to my man @VicOladipo on Most Improved Player! Many more awards to come in the future— TJ Leaf (@leafsquad22) June 26, 2018
Congrats on most improved @VicOladipo well deserved!— Aaron Holiday (@The_4th_Holiday) June 26, 2018
Oladipo also got an opportunity for promotion, delivering some vocals to his song “One Day” at the awards.
It’s easy to watch this event, however, and see just how little impact the awards themselves have given the regular season ended 10 weeks ago. Dwane Casey was named Coach of the Year, but seeing him accept the award for his contribution to the Toronto Raptors while being the head coach of the Detroit Pistons just highlights how long ago the regular season was and how much of an asterisk the event needs to remind viewers this is an event for the regular season, to tell them that nothing they watched in the last two months matters tonight.
Beyond that, the event was filled with typical award show filler and guests including some awkward monologues, the NBA on TNT panel and familiar mock-ups, censored for TV Travis Scott performances, and Bill Russell flipping off Charles Barkley. The event is unlikely to go away, but a there’s a comfort there if that’s your lane, it would just be more interesting if the timing could be improved upon.