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Monday, March 31, 2008

The Amazing Race (for MVP)

Posted by Eboy

written by Eboy

MVP. Most Valuable Player. An award that most players will never have reach their hands, and the chosen few that do usually reserve a spot in basketball immortality. The 2007-2008 NBA season is one unlike any other. Teams overachieving, teams that in past seasons were hell to deal with are now going through their own hell and the Western Conference is in a race for the ring like never before. The MVP race of this season is also one unlike any other. There could be a legitimate list of 6 or 7 guys that can bear merit for their inclusion into the race, but I'm taking the reigns of this race like I was riding out in the Iditarod and picking a winner in this big dog race.

So, the two guys in the opening photo, they would be the vogue picks, right? The ones who would sell the most MVP t-shirts, the guys whose Nike commercials would be the most entertaining, the two guys who would be the most polarizing if they received it. Let's breakdown what they've done this season.

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers- The Mamba, 24, The Greatest Player In the Game.

We all know the nicknames, we all know the game. This season has been turbulent to say the least. Kobe's displeasure with the direction of the Lakers almost caused a World War among NBA GM's this summer and the rumors of him playing in the same arena as his idol/role model in Chicago were hotter than Adriana Lima in a bikini. Fortunately for the Lakers, this didn't happen. Kobe played the role of jaded superstar early in the season and then after the first couple of weeks of the season passed by the Lakers team started to jell and became a force in the West. Kobe was happy and Laker fans had a product on the floor they could be proud of. Then the unthinkable happened, a trade of such mismatched talent took place and instantly raised the Lakers from possible playoff performer to top flight contender. Pau Gasol replaced the garbagesque post play of Kwame Brown and the Lakers had a big man 1-2 punch that rivaled any one's in the league. THIS is the reason why Kobe's MVP votes should be lessened. He is now playing on a team with bona fide stars, a team that without Bryant may not win a title but could contend for a playoff spot. I know the "Kobe deserves it for being looked over before" argument is hot right now, but this is about this season and 24 may be looking at other hardware this coming postseason that would quench his palette for acceptance. Sorry Kob.

Lebron James, Cleveland Cavaliers- The King.

Mr James is unreal. So young, so talented, so popular. Reminds me of the beginnings of a certain Mr. Jordan's career. After last years improbable Finals run, Cleveland came into this season with the expectations of being ultra competitive in the East, one of the top three teams fighting for a return engagement. Something funny happened on the way to cementing their place in the game. The Cavs fell off. Not completely, but they were made to be also rans in the East behind perennial powerhouse and new rival, the Detroit Pistons and the all of sudden, scarier than Britney's private parts, Boston Celtics. The only thing keeping the Cavs from being a carbon copy of the Miami Heat was Lebron. He does things in a stratosphere that only a handful of players have done in the past. The thing is, even with a midseason trade that is trying to breath new life into the Cavs fortunes, they haven't looked like world beaters. This falls squarely on Lebron. He has to be "THAT" guy every night because if he's not, their not. Sure his value to the Cavs is immeasurable but after last season we all know he take it to an even higher level and maybe he's just saving it to quiet the doubters this postseason. He can do that. Believe it. His teams season has been a tad too mediocre though.

Kevin Garnett,Boston Celtics-KG, The Big Ticket.

See that guy hanging from the rim above these words? Yeah, I had a hard time not putting him in the #1 spot on the trophy podium. The reason I didn't? He's playing with 2 other future Hall Of Famers that jelled incredibly well and with some additional movement throughout the season his team is poised for an incredible run at a title that they haven't done in 20+ years. Does he deserve it? Of course he does. His fire, passion, and talent has been eyepopping in Beantown and now finally on a grand stage, KG's game has received the love it has so richly has deserved by people in the media that have never fully embraced him. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen could have probably dragged the rest of the squad into the playoffs in the weakened East so KG's contribution to the squad makes them destroyers, his absence would make them pedestrian but not horrid. He may still get the award as his team will wind up with the best record in the league, and their dominance of the rest of the best teams in the league makes his case even stronger but I have my eyes set on this little guy down in the Bayou who can make room in his trophy cabinet.

Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets-CP3, The Definition (thanks, King K)

All right, here we are. The master of his domain. Working in anonymity without much public television coverage this dude has done something incredible. He has made a team of also rans into a consistent winner and the top team in the Western Conference with just a handful of games left to play. Gangsta!!!! The smallest player in the running with perhaps the largest hill to climb. Not a killer like Kobe, not otherworldly like Lebron, not a steel-souled warrior like KG, CP3 just does his thing, night in and night out. He is now the best PG in the NBA. Think about that? With a team of outcasts and former stars he has pushed the fate of New Orleans sports into the limelight and he is now the face of the sport scene for a place in this country that so needs this type of hero. In just 3 seasons, he has taken that title. Forget the numbers (21, 4, 11)he is on every ones list of top players in the league regardless of position. Forget Steve Nash, Deron Williams and Jason Kidd, this is the guy you want running a team. An unselfish, know when to turn it on, raise the game type of player. He's in uncharted waters for a player so early in his career. Will he get the award? Hard to say. Maybe not being on a prime locale team this season will short track his ride to the award, but I can guarantee you that next season and beyond, this will no longer be an issue. The thing that's impressed me more than anything is that even today, as we head into April, people are still saying "I can't believe the Hornets are still in the top spot in the West." That should end the argument. He's done what no one thought was possible at the start of the season. That will no longer be the case next season. Plus in a year of strange turns of events, this wouldn't be so hard to take, would it?



Tariq al Hayder said...

I have no problem with Chris Paul being MVP. He deserves it.

But I do take exception to your criteria for judging the candidates. Why does a team's strength count against a potential MVP?

In my mind, there are only two criteria for MVP:

1- Individual Performance
2- Team Success

How good your teammates are shouldn't count against you. Hey, wasn't Magic an MVP with the Showtime Lakers? Bird with two other HOFers? If you're tearing it up, voters should give it up, regardless.

Unless your team isn't good enough. I look at in a similar way to the all-star selections: You've got a lot of potential all-stars putting up good numbers on bad teams. Not good enough. You have to have SOME success to make it. That's why Micael Redd, for example, wasn't an all-star this season.

Now the "team success" bar should obviously be set higher for MVPs than for mere all-stars. I'm sorry, but my MVP shouldn't be from a team that can't get 50 wins in the East. Not in a year with such strong candidates. I don't care if it's not Bron's fault. That's just the way it is.

As for the Lakers getting Pau and KG playing with Ray and Truth, I don't think that's relevant.

I would say that the three of them really deserve to be MVP. I would dock KG points because he doesn't have the ball in his hands at clutch time often enough,and also because his numbers aren't as good as Kobe and CP3. As for the other two, they're so close, in my opinion, that I'd just give it to whoever's team has the best record after the next nine games.

white hot eboy said...

Is there a camel that is shunned at the moment?

Tariq al Hayder said...

I noticed you used the word "camel". As we all know, the mere mention of that ruminant quadruped is riotous. Very funny. Hilarious. I simeltaneously squirted milk out of my nose and peed a little. Ha ha.

Roasted Squirrels, White Hot E-Trash.

ASPOV said...

Kobe has to get this one this year, I think, if only because he has seemed to show that he finally "gets it", that his team is crap with him dominating the ball, but successful when he boosts their individual games by using his skills to get them in position to be successful. You gotta give dude his props this year.