basketball

NBA: James Harden, Anthony Davis, LeBron James to battle for Most Valuable Player award

James is in the running for a fifth career MVP title.

Houston’s James Harden, Cleveland’s LeBron James and Anthony Davis of New Orleans are the finalists announced on Wednesday for NBA Most Valuable Player honors.

Harden, the league’s leading scorer in the regular season with an average of 30.4 points per game, appears the favorite to succeed Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook as MVP when the awards are announced on June 25. The Rockets star, who was runner-up in the voting the past three seasons, was instrumental in the Rockets’ run to a league-leading 65 regular-season wins.

James, who at 33 produced one of the best seasons of his outstanding career, is in the running for a fifth career MVP title. He averaged 27.5 points – the most for him since the 2009-10 season – along with 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists and played in all 82 games of the regular season. James led the league in minutes played per game as he helped the inconsistent Cavaliers into fourth place in the Eastern Conference. He could join Bill Russell and Michael Jordan as five-time MVP winners. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the all-time leader with six. Davis and the Pelicans overcame a season-ending injury to sidekick DeMarcus Cousins to earn the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

Davis averaged a career-best 28.1 points to go with 11.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks and is also a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year along with Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers. Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons of Australia and Jayson Tatum of Boston are the finalists for Rookie of the Year. The finalists in all categories were determined by voting by a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

Coach of the Year finalists include Boston’s Brad Stevens, Quin Snyder of Utah and Dwane Casey, the Toronto coach who was sacked by the Raptors after they were swept 4-0 by the Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Tracing the formation of Al Qaeda and its path to 9/11

A new show looks at some of the crucial moments leading up to the attack.

“The end of the world war had bought America victory but not security” - this quote from Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book, ‘The Looming Tower’, gives a sense of the growing threat to America from Al Qaeda and the series of events that led to 9/11. Based on extensive interviews, including with Bin Laden’s best friend in college and the former White House counterterrorism chief, ‘The Looming Tower’ provides an intimate perspective of the 9/11 attack.

Lawrence Wright chronicles the formative years of Al Qaeda, giving an insight in to Bin Laden’s war against America. The book covers in detail, the radicalisation of Osama Bin Laden and his association with Ayman Al Zawahri, an Egyptian doctor who preached that only violence could change history. In an interview with Amazon, Wright shared, “I talked to 600-something people, but many of those people I talked to again and again for a period of five years, some of them dozens of times.” Wright’s book was selected by TIME as one of the all-time 100 best nonfiction books for its “thoroughly researched and incisively written” account of the road to 9/11 and is considered an essential read for understanding Islam’s war on the West as it developed in the Middle East.

‘The Looming Tower’ also dwells on the response of key US officials to the rising Al Qaeda threat, particularly exploring the turf wars between the FBI and the CIA. This has now been dramatized in a 10-part mini-series of the same name. Adapted by Dan Futterman (of Foxcatcher fame), the series mainly focuses on the hostilities between the FBI and the CIA. Some major characters are based on real people - such as John O’ Neill (FBI’s foul-mouthed counterterrorism chief played by Jeff Daniels) and Ali Soufan (O’ Neill’s Arabic-speaking mentee who successfully interrogated captured Islamic terrorists after 9/11, played by Tahar Rahim). Some are composite characters, such as Martin Schmidt (O’Neill’s CIA counterpart, played by Peter Sarsgaard).

The series, most crucially, captures just how close US intelligence agencies had come to foiling Al Qaeda’s plans, just to come up short due to internal turf wars. It follows the FBI and the CIA as they independently follow intelligence leads in the crises leading up to 9/11 – the US Embassy bombings in East Africa and the attack on US warship USS Cole in Yemen – but fail to update each other. The most glaring example is of how the CIA withheld critical information – Al Qaeda operatives being hunted by the FBI had entered the United States - under the misguided notion that the CIA was the only government agency authorised to deal with terrorism threats.

The depth of information in the book has translated into a realistic recreation of the pre-9/11 years on screen. The drama is even interspersed with actual footage from the 9/11 conspiracy, attack and the 2004 Commission Hearing, linking together the myriad developments leading up to 9/11 with chilling hindsight. Watch the trailer of this gripping show below.

Play

The Looming Tower is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, along with a host of Amazon originals and popular movies and TV shows. To enjoy unlimited ad free streaming anytime, anywhere, subscribe to Amazon Prime Video.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon Prime Video and not by the Scroll editorial team.