Our second NBA Tuesday miniseries analyzes the 2004 season and a delightful Finals result for those of us who believe(d) in justice and karma. Here is some context for today’s column, and remember, every so often, sports deliver on their promise. Summer and Fall 2003 was a vile time, and it was a sweet relief to see a rapist fail to win another NBA title the following spring. We are nothing if brutally honest here!

2004 NBA FINALS MVP: Chauncey Billups, PG, Detroit (original, confirmed)

Journeyman point guard Chauncey Billups (21.0 ppg, 5.2 apg, 3.2 rpg, 1.2 spg) was the voted MVP for the Detroit Pistons as they took down the heavily favored Los Angeles Lakers in 5 games to win their first NBA title since 1990. At age 27, Billups was playing for his fifth team since being the No. 3 overall pick in the 1997 draft. But do we agree with this choice?

Shooting guard Richard Hamilton topped the Pistons in minutes played (44.8) and scoring (21.4), as the Detroit roster featured five players scoring in double digits. But Hamilton’s shooting percentages were weaker than Billups’ numbers, for one, and even though the point guard played six minutes less per game than the shooting guard, Mr. Big Shot made 50.9 percent of his attempts from the floor.

Hamilton shot only 40.3 percent, and that’s a huge gap, considering shot attempts (92 for Hamilton, 57 for Billups). We will confirm the MVP vote, as Billups was the better of the dynamic duo in this matchup against the Lakers.

2004 NBA DPOY: Ron Artest, SF, Indiana (original); Ben Wallace, C, Detroit (revised)

The DPOY vote went to Indiana Pacers small forward Ron Artest—a season before he did this and earned a reputation no NBA player wanted. Artest (5.17 DWS) is not a contender in our minds, however, as he had a better teammate in the Top 10 for Defensive Win Shares, too: power forward Jermaine O’Neal (6.31). In fact, we have only three finalists for our award analysis here today.

Those players are Detroit C Ben Wallace (9.08), Minnesota Timberwolves PF Kevin Garnett (7.96), and New Jersey Nets PF Kenyon Martin (5.12). Wallace’s season was so dominant; will he finally win one of these from us after losing out on his voted wins in 2002 and 2003?! Well, here’s the postseason margin data: Detroit (19), Minnesota (17), and New Jersey (12). Yet Martin’s DWS is so barely over our minimum.

We are going to do the rare thing here and acknowledge Wallace’s outstanding impact on defense: Martin’s value did not mean the difference between the postseason and the offseason, after all, as his team won the Atlantic Division with 47 victories. This is the right thing to do this time, in light of Wallace’s numbers: 8.4 defensive rebounds, 3.0 blocks, and 1.8 steals per game for the best defense in the NBA.