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'Most Valuable' is in the eye of the beholder

*All this week we've held our 3rd annual MVP Series debate. Big time thanks to each of our special contributors Phil Barnett, Celia Kelly, and The Rev. Plus big ups to the bearded one for helping keep ETSF afloat. Today as we bring closure to the MVP Series, the emotions that are brought up by simply talking about the MVP award is fascinating. Please read and discuss in the comments section, and thanks for your continued support of our 40 acres and a mule of the Internet. -Ed.*

I think Celia started it off best in her post yesterday by simply stating what does "Most" and "Valuable" truly mean? Moreover, what do those two words mean to the two entities that are entrenched into the game, the teams and the league? Well, until 1981 the folks who decided the MVP award were the players only. You know, the people who are actually on the court? Yep. After 1981, a panel of sportswriters (not named Ed) and broadcasters were selected to decide the NBA's most prestigious award in sports. Instead of leaving the process to the people who are in the trenches seeing what's going on, now the choice for MVP is decided by folks who frankly are just like you and me.

You might say, "Well Ed, we're all able to be observers of the game. We can be objective and make a conscious decision on who should be awarded the Maurice Podoloff trophy, right?"


Yes, we could...if we were all robots.

You see, we as people can't even decide on what is considered beautiful in women (or men for the ladies), what is considered delicious in our steak (I'm a medium-well kinda guy), or in our libations (give me some Jameson whiskey and I'm real cool) so how are we going to be able to decide what's truly most valuable in a game that has as much stylistic clashes as hair styles and clothing fashions in the 70's?

There hasn't been a more statistically dominant all-around player in the league like LeBron Raymone James since the days of Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson. You people act like 27/7/7 is just commonplace now a days. It is, but only because Raymone made it possible. There's nothing more valuable than that, and in a league where consistency is something to behold the man's done this in each of the last four seasons, collecting two MVP's in the process...

...but he'll probably finish 3rd or 4th this year in the MVP race. Why? Because he initiated a power move from hell by re-creating the nWo in Miami? Because his hairline's as far back as Jacksonville from Miami? Because he MIGHT not be a better closer than his teammate Dwyane Wade, that doesn't make him any less valuable? How does this make any sense? It doesn't. Its just emotions getting in the way, not really. He isn't any more or less "valuable" than he was just 12 months ago. Just got a new jersey and new number on.

Moreover, we give such grief to LeBron for going to go play with talent do you all forget the tirades and rants that Kobe Bean Bryant would go on from 2004-2007? You know, when Kobe got the big homie Shaq up on out of Los Angeles and the chances of being relevant as a team in this league were thrown right out the window. 34, 45, 42. Naw, not scoring averages, those are the Lakers wins in '05-'07. There are many of you who think Kobe should've won an MVP in '05-'06 for that 35 points/game season. Really? In the history of the MVP award no winner's team has ever had LESS than 50 wins. Yet we think Kobe got robbed.

Its all about what we perceive is "valuable". Kobe's case for MVP is a clear one. His effect on the game is astounding, the man is always lurking, looking ready to pounce to make another big play. Kobe's as valuable as he is because he's put in the work, and has the pedigree of winning. Frankly, it scares the shit out of people, and makes folks refuse to bet against him. Kobe isn't all that different now than he was when he was putting up 35 a game in '05, nor is he that different than when he was the #2 guy behind Shaq in their three-peat years to kick off the 00's. We see Kobe's value differently now that he's got a supporting cast worth a damn and he's gunning for titles again.


However, what do you do when you're not beloved (or berated) in the people's eye like LeBron and Kobe? Dwight David Howard's biggest problems are that he's the a big dude who plays in a small town who's always got that look on his face. Look, we all know that guy who says, "Man damn! If I had such and such's height I'd be a killer! Dunking on everybody!"

Doesn't Dwight actually do that? All the time. He's a big homie who can literally do anything on the court if he sets his mind to it. He is the most dominant defensive player in the NBA today, without question. The paint is officially getting shut down and anyone who wishes to enter must go through #12. There's an INFINITE amount of value associated to that, right? Moreover, the man gobbles rebounds like I inhale carrot cake. You could argue that there's nothing more valuable than that, doesn't defense win championships? Didn't Bill Russell win 5 MVP's by basically being a great defender and an insane rebounder? You gonna argue with Russell on this?

Problem is, folks don't want to vote for Dwight Howard because he seems to whine a lot about getting fouled. When you get fouled over 250 more times than the next person in the league, I'd probably complain a bit too. Plus, we look at Dwight Howard like he should actually do more...because 23 and 14 a game isn't enough to satisfy our thirst for dominant players in the league. We've been spoiled in our generation by Shaq, Hakeem, Ewing, Robinson, and Mourning. Why don't you average 30 Dwight? Why don't you shoot a better free throw percentage Dwight? Stop complaining so much Dwight. There's no one in the league that can do what Dwight does, his talent is more scarce than Kobe or LeBron. Yet, we'd never think of giving him the award. Not for real.

Which leads us to who we've been told should win the MVP this year, a man who is as deserving as any candidate I can remember yet I question why are we really co-signing the award to Derrick Martell Rose in such a fashion. The man was crowned back in what feels like February. I don't remember anyone in my circle really having that conversation about him at all, and it was as if someone thought that by saying Rose could be MVP evolved into this snowball effect that by the time folks had looked up, Rose was already crowned MVP.


Yet, Rose isn't nearly as statistically dominant as LeBron or Dwight. Rose isn't even as much of a "closer" if you will than Kobe. Is he more of a humble leader than anything else, or is he just quiet? (Just think about it) Its not that he isn't a humble leader, but how do you really know? Derrick Rose woke up one day and became the people's champ by default. We all can find reasons to dislike LeBron, Kobe, and Dwight. Here's the new star rising from the city that hasn't been relevant since ole buddy who wore #23. He's "the #1."

#1 is phenomenal. If we crown him as most valuable, we do so because he's been unwavering in his relentless drive to get to the rim, to improve his game so his team could thrive with him on the floor. His court vision keeps all of his teammates happy and folks generally like playing with him. Making other people's lives easier is infinitely valuable. We don't need stats to tell us that, we have eyeballs. When the game is on the line, he gets the ball and has always made the right play for his team to win. Winning is all that matters in sports, and there's nothing more valuable than that.

Most Valuable is in the eye of the beholder, and all of these candidates are worthy of that damned trophy. In 2011, there isn't a clear-cut choice for the award...but that choice was made a long time ago.

-Ed.
www.edthesportsfan.com

P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!

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