NBA MVP (…WXYZ): The MVP of MVP Awards
As far as Most Valuable Player awards go, the NBA clearly takes the cake.
It takes the cake, and the cookies, and the peanut brittle, and whatever other desserts might be around to nab… I don’t know, maybe some crème brule fruit cups, or something? A little custard pie? Use your fucking imagination.
Really, though – none of the other MVP awards compare. The NFL? Pffff! Come on. Wake me up next time it’s not a quarterback. Odds are I’ll probably be awake already when it happens, but I guess just wait till I pass out and then wake me back up again. I know Tazmanian Tomlinson won as recently as 2006, but I’d be willing to bet that’s the last time we see a non-QB take home the award for a prettayyy, prettayyyyy long time.
In this day and age, under the current set of puss-in-boots NFL rules – where “video game numbers” is an irrelevant term because players routinely put up the same numbers in real life as they do in Madden – the MVP race will always come down to the quarterback on the best team against the quarterback with the best stats. Book it. It’s just too easy for them to dominate the games – no other position stands much of a chance.
As for the MVP award in MLB, that shit’s just a popularity contest nowadays (…nowayears?). Ever since the steroid scandal busted itself wide open and rocked baseball to the bones, it’s like the writers are just voting for the best story, not necessarily the best player.
Most baseball writers – as fans of the games themselves who felt cheated and misled by the juicy-juice era – seem to want the good guys, the clean guys, the likeable guys to win the award, in the hopes that their success will help uplift/restore the integrity of the sport. After years of enduring the extended dominance of notorious ‘roided-out dickheads like A-Rod and Barry “Where’s the BEEEEEFCAAAAKE?!” Bonds, fans and writers alike want to see some MVP winners that, you know… aren’t total assholes. I can’t really blame them, but it does make for a lot shittier race in the end. It’s basically become the MMP – the Most Marketable Player.
On top of that, the small minority of writers who don’t base their vote on personal preference are even worse, deciding who to vote for by plugging stats into a mathematical equation they found in Bill James’ garbage that they don’t even fucking understand.
NHL? Don’t make me laugh. Or projectile vomit. I really don’t know what my reaction would be if you tried to tell me hockey has the best MVP race, it’s a total gray area. Does the NHL even give out an MVP? I could care less. Honestly though, it seems to me that success in hockey has a lot more to do with grit, luck, timing, and health than it does with skill or talent. I’m not sure how you would go about measuring those things – or if it’s even possible, or worth spending the time to try – but my guess is it’s probably a dumbly inexact science. Ipso facto, the NHL MVP award is probably a goddamn crapshoot.
So the NBA MVP award is basically the best by default, simply because it’s not always won by the same position, it’s not controlled by ulterior motives and/or statistics, and it has nothing to do with hockey (don’t take it personal, hockey – I’m actually starting to enjoy watching you, but you’re still easily the crappiest sport and somebody’s gotta be the low man on the totem pole, so… yeah). The Association’s take on the MVP may not be perfect, but at the very least, it’s the least imperfect.
One thing that’s great about it is that so many people have different ideas on what the term “Most Valuable Player” should really mean in professional basketball. That creates a perfect opportunity for supposed pundits and blowhards such as myself to spout off and say shit like, “Well, here’s what I think the MVP award should really be based on…” Well, here’s what I think the MVP award should really be based on:
A Playoff Spot
I don’t think overall team record should matter as much as it does, but I do think any player who wins MVP should at least be able to get their team to the playoffs – no exceptions (sorry, Tunnel of KLove). Only ten players are on the court at any given time, meaning that each player obviously accounts for 20% of his team’s overall performance while he’s in the game… that’s a pretty huge chunk. Even if your teammates show up high off their ass on peyote to every game, you should be able to will your team to a postseason berth if you’re the most valuable player in the whole fucking Association.
I’m not one of those guys who loathe statistics and damn them away as the Devil’s work, but neither am I one of those statheads who go around eating pieces of stat like you for breakfast – I’m somewhere in the middle, I expect. The fact of the matter is that statistical production is really the only way to measure these players as individuals, aside from pissing contests.
Now, I’m not trying to diminish the value of a good pissing contest here, but there are just too many variables involved – too many players complaining about the wind, and such and such. Stats may not tell the whole story in terms of player value, but they absolutely tell a few chapters.
If you miss 18 or more games in a season, you’re not the MVP. Go fuck yourself.
This is where things start to get a little blue. A lot of people would disagree with me and call me a stupid know-nothing jackass, but I believe the talent level of a player’s teammates should be taken into consideration for his MVP chances. For instance, if there are two legitimate top-ten MVP candidates on the same team, neither of them should win the award over a statistically comparable player with worse teammates.
In short, good teammates make the game easier for each other, and I believe that should be taken into account. Think of it like this: if a team with two MVP-caliber players lost one to injury, they wouldn’t suffer nearly as much as a team with only one such player in the same situation – doesn’t that make the latter player more valuable to his team?
Yeah yeah, I’m aware it’s a little difficult to measure intangibles, seeing as they’re… you know, intangible. Still though, it’s really not fucking rocket science here people. It comes down to a few easily identifiable things: do your teammates like playing with you? Do they respect you? Defer to you? Do you make them better? Do they rally around you? Are you the best player on the floor? Do you carry yourself as such, no matter what? When you look in the mirror, do you see pride? Power? A badass motherfucker who don’t take no shit from nobody? Are you provocative? Do you GET THE PEOPLE GOING?!
Like I already said, I don’t think team record should be taken into account as much as it actually is when determining the MVP – a good overall record is an indicator of a good overall team, and nothing else. That being said, it can still be used effectively as an ultimate tie-breaker of sorts, between two candidates who are virtually equal in all other aspects. It can’t be used indiscriminately though.
For example, I think it would be a little unfair to point to the fact that Kevin Durant’s team has a better record than Dwight Howard’s as support for Durant winning MVP over Dwight, considering that Durant plays with All-Star teammates while Dwight plays with the inhabitants of The Isle of Misfit Toys. However, I think it would be fair to use the fact that Kevin Durant’s team has a better record than LeBron’s team as (a small piece of) evidence for Durant deserving the MVP over LeBron, since their teams are comparable from the standpoint of overall talent. Confused yet? Perfect.
Now that you know what I’m looking for in my MVP, I’ll break down the current state of the MVP race… I don’t know… breaking down. No wait, shaking out – yeah let’s go with “shaking out,” there.
10. Russell Westbrook
24.3 pts – 4.5 boards – 5.4 dimes – 1.7 stls – 0.2 blks – 46.6% FG – 6.4 FTA
9. Andrew Bynum
18.6 pts – 12.2 boards – 1.4 dimes – 0.4 stls – 1.9 blks – 55.8% FG – 5.7 FTA
8. Kevin Love
26.0 pts – 13.3 boards – 2.0 dimes – 0.9 stls – 0.5 blks – 44.8% FG – 8.4 FTA
7. Chris Paul
19.5 pts – 3.5 boards – 9.0 dimes – 2.5 stls – 0.1 blks – 48.4% FG – 4.7 FTA
6. Rajon Rondo
12.2 pts – 4.9 boards – 11.6 dimes – 1.8 stls – 0.1 blks – 44.6% FG – 3.5 FTA
5. Dwyane Wade
22.6 pts – 5.0 boards – 4.7 dimes – 1.7 stls – 1.4 blks – 49.8% FG – 6.2 FTA
4. Kobe Bryant
28.1 pts – 5.4 boards – 4.6 dimes – 1.2 stls – 0.2 blks – 43.0% FG – 7.9 FTA
3. LeBron James
26.9 pts – 8.0 boards – 6.3 dimes – 1.9 stls – 0.8 blks – 52.8% FG – 7.9 FTA
2. Kevin Durant
27.8 pts – 7.9 boards – 3.5 dimes – 1.4 stls – 1.2 blks – 50.3% FG – 7.4 FTA
1. Dwight Howard
20.6 pts – 14.5 boards – 1.9 dimes – 1.5 stls – 2.1 blks – 57.3% FG – 10.6 FTA
If the Thunder played a whole season without Durant, I’m pretty sure that with Westbrook and Harden running the show they’d still win more games than they lost – same goes for LeBron and the star-studded Heat. If the current Magic roster were to play a whole season without Howard, however, they’d be the worst fucking team in the league. Well okay, maybe not as bad as Charlotte… but they’d definitely be jockeying with Washington and N’Orleans for that coveted second-shittiest spot.
Dwight Howard is so valuable to his team that they went out and traded away Brandon Bass for Big Baby Davis straight up just to appease him (it remains to be seen why exactly Howard wanted Big Baby on his team in the first place, but that’s not the issue here). Would any other team make such a retardedly backwards move simply to appease their best player’s inexplicable wishes? Well yeah, I guess a lot of them probably would. But have any besides Orlando been compelled to make such a move in the last year?
I rest my fucking case.
Photos by Keith Allison.