- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

DORAL, FLA. (AP) - Even Tiger Woods has an opinion on one of the NBA’s hottest topics _ the MVP race.

In Woods’ mind, Miami’s Dwyane Wade merits consideration for the top NBA individual honor, but the world’s No. 1 golfer expects either Cleveland’s LeBron James or the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant to actually win the award.

“D-Wade has now gotten himself into the conversation,” Woods said after finishing his final round in the CA Championship at Doral, only a few miles from the Heat’s arena. “He’s doing more with less, obviously. But I think it’s probably going to come down to LeBron and Kobe.”

Woods’ opinion is an educated one: He’s an avid basketball fan and sees plenty of Orlando Magic games when he’s at his central Florida home.

Bryant’s Lakers and James’ Cavaliers have already clinched their teams’ respective division titles, and both are on pace to have home-court advantage when the postseason begins next month.

“What those two guys are doing is pretty impressive,” Woods said.

Miami had the NBA’s worst record last season, but behind Wade _ who leads the NBA in scoring _ is back in the playoff picture.

Woods said Wade deserves plenty of credit for Miami’s turnaround, but noted that the history of the MVP voting doesn’t exactly lend itself in Wade’s favor. Excluding a strike-shortened season, only two players in the last 34 years _ Moses Malone (twice) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar _ have won MVPs while starring for teams that won fewer than 50 games.

The last player to win MVP for a team with no more than 50 wins in a full season was Michael Jordan, nearly two decades ago. If Miami was to reach 50 wins this season, the Heat would have to win 14 of their 16 remaining games.

Wade’s candidacy for the award has improved over the last month, with him averaging 34.6 points in his last 15 games. He’s even topped the 40-point mark six times since Feb. 22, even reaching 50 twice, most recently on Saturday in a triple-overtime win over the Utah Jazz.

“You can’t take anything away from D-Wade,” Woods said. “But MVPs are usually given to the guys who actually have a better supporting cast, for some reason.”

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