The NBA Realist: LeBron James
Everyone has their own criterion when choosing their 2011 NBA MVP. Some believe that it should be awarded to the best player on the team with the best record, while others believe that it should be given to the “most irreplaceable”. Me? I believe that the MVP should be awarded to the best player in the NBA unless there is a compelling enough reason otherwise. And the best player in the NBA is still LeBron James.
During the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s I watched as the game’s best player, Michael Jordan, repeatedly got robbed of multiple MVP awards in three separate occassions:
1.) 1990 vs. Magic Johnson – Jordan was the best player in the game and most irreplaceable for his team, but the Lakers had the best record in the NBA, and Jordan was still battling the stigma of having never won a championship.
2.) 1993 vs. Charles Barkley – Jordan was the best player in the game, and arguably the most irreplaceable. However, the Suns had a better record than the Bulls, the media was tired of voting for the same player, and Charles was simply funnier.
3.) 1997 vs. Karl Malone – No logical reason whatsoever. The only possible explanation is that 1000+ media voters collectively decided to celebrate “opposite day” at the exact same moment. Michael Jordan was the best player in the NBA, most irreplaceable, led his team to an astonishing 69 wins and the best record in the league, and was the most popular athlete on the planet. So what did the voters do? They inexplicably awarded the MVP to Karl Malone…….absolutely baffling.
I know that Lebron James is the most hated player in the NBA, and his free agent dalliance from 2010 has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many. However, he is nonetheless still the best player in the league, and as my fellow Chasing 23 Editor Brown Mamba eluded to in an earlier article, has been taken for granted and penalized for consistently playing at an incredibly high level that would have otherwise compelled voters to go ga-ga had it been anyone else.
For the 3rd straight season, LeBron James has averaged at least 25 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, but this time shot an astounding 51% from the field. To give you a bit of perspective, the last wing player to shoot 51% from the field while scoring at least 25 points per game was Michael Jordan in 1992 and trust me folks – finishing top 5 in scoring AND shooting 51% as a Wing is an uncanny feat that has rarely occurred in NBA history, and is indicative of player’s invaluable ability to get easy baskets at a high frequency.
Moreover, let’s not overlook the fact that Lebron was the Alpha Dog on a Miami Heat team that overcame early chemistry issues, questionable coaching decisions, but still proceeded to win 58 games, finish with the 3rd best record in the NBA, and land only 4 games behind the league leading Chicago Bulls.
I know that Derrick Rose (along with Natalie Portman and Snooki) has become America’s Sweetheart in 2011, and will be the popular choice for MVP given his loveable personality and favorable demeanor, but many of the same arguments that were made for justifying Charles Barkely as MVP in 1993, and Karl Malone as MVP in 1997, are once again being used to justify Derrick Rose over Lebron James in 2011.
There is no clear cut criteria when choosing the MVP. However, mine starts with Best Player in the game.
Honorable mention: Derrick Rose
Brown Mamba: LeBron James
My support of Lebron for MVP has been well-documented on this site. I have to admit — prior to writing this, I was nearly swayed by the Bulls’ finish to the season, winning 62 games and the no. 1 seed in the East – both of which were impressive accomplishments. Still, when I looked at LeBron’s complete body of work, I had no choice but to stick with my earlier position (and it was by a hair). Lebron is simply putting up stats only previously seen by the likes of Jordan (and perhaps in certain years, Magic and Oscar), and doing it with an ease that has never been witnessed – no pun intended.
How many games have we seen Lebron put up a 30-8-8 line where it didn’t seem like he even dominated? I think the ease with which Lebron is able to achieve his greatness, is in part due to the lack of support for his MVP campaign this year (along with the fact that voters don’t like to see back-to-back NBA MVPs and there is an overwhelmingly negative sentiment towards Lebron and the Heat currently). His overall stats were very reminiscent of his first two MVP campaigns and his post All-star numbers bordered on legendary, as he averaged 28/8/6 while shooting a blistering 56% from the field.
For those who argue that Rose’s Bulls took the season series vs. Lebron, well, it wasn’t because of any lack of performance on Lebron’s end, as he averaged 28/9/6 while shooting 56% in those games.
The primary crux of the argument is really that Rose won 4 more games with a team many argue is inferior. Are the Bulls inferior in talent? At the top, definitely, as Wade and Bosh are better than any 2 or 3 player that the Bulls have. The case gets a little bit more convoluted when looking at players 4 through 10. Still — it must be considered that the Heat were less a great team as opposed to a great assemblage of top tier talent. This is important, and despite the great confusion in roles between Lebron v. Wade, and Chris Bosh v. himself, they still managed to win 58 games.
The other factor here is the Tom Thibodeau effect. There is no doubt in my mind that Thibs played a huge role in the Bulls’ and Rose’s success this year – so it would be a mistake to over attribute the Bulls’ success this year to primarily Rose’s dominance. Overall, this argument gets extremely close because Rose was the best player on the team with the best record in the NBA this year. However, for my money, LeBron James was still the most valuable.
Honorable mention: Derrick Rose
Dave Sheridan: Derrick Rose
Employing one word to describe the performance submitted by Derrick Rose, the most apt word would be: sublime.
Derrick Rose is a once in a generation talent that has managed to fuse personal modesty with audacious physical talent. Rose, a native of Chicago, is the Bulls franchise player. The city of Chicago was gifted with Michael Jordan, and now has in its city limits another player capable of transcending the game of basketball.
Rose’s drives to the rim combine strength, speed, courage and virtuosity. Rose’s handle is in the Marques Haynes/Bob Cousy/Pete Maravich/Isiah Thomas category. Rose holds the ball on a tight string, and the crowd, and his teammates hang on his next move. The orb in his hand seems to defy the laws of physics as his body goes one way – the ball tantalizing the rapacious nature of the defensive player with a sudden flash to the left or the right – and as spectators, we’re unsure how D. Rose was able to convince the defender that he was going left when the ball was rocketing to the right.
Was it prestidigitation?
Sitting at home, one rushes to rewind Rose’s slight of hand illusion and still it’s not quite possible to ascertain the nuts and bolts of his dexterity. How was he able to do that? After repeated views of Rose’s shock and awe ballhandling, the DVR offers no further clues to Rose’s brilliance. The only way to properly view Rose’s genius is to record him by using a motion picture camera that can capture a hummingbird’s beating wings.
Before another long NBA season started, the Bulls were not considered viable contenders to the Eastern Conference crown. Under first-year coach Tom Thibodeau and the unparalleled play of Derrick Rose – while overcoming injuries to Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah – the Bulls have made a city believe and a league take notice of a team that wasn’t constructed by virtue of Dwyane Wade’s hypnotic powers of persuasion.
The Bulls were bit players, in NBA teams’ gang bang seduction of LeBron James, and it’s been written that Derrick Rose was less than elated at the prospect of The King joining his team. If LeBron James had decided to bring his talents to the Windy City, would basketball fans have observed the true artistry and brilliance of Derrick Rose?
Derrick Rose was the outlier. Derrick Rose opted not to beseech The King with a request for his services. D Rose opted to build a team in Chicago that would be known as Derrick Rose’s team. In an age of Big Three’s, Derrick Rose is a throwback.
For that alone, we should name Derrick Rose – the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. But that isn’t enough. Rose’s transcendent game, and his team’s rise to the top of the Eastern Conference with a 62-20 record, has given him the rightful claim to MVP.
Marcas Grant – Derrick Rose
With Derrick Rose, the Bulls are the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Without Derrick Rose? Da Bulls are hanging on to one of the lower seeds in the playoffs. If we’re talking the value of a player to his team, I don’t know how you can get better than that. Despite scoring 25 points per night, Rose still managed to finish the season in the top 10 in assists. But in the clutch is where Rose really shined this year, cementing himself as the Bulls’ go-to guy with the clock winding down. Dwight Howard had a legitimate claim, because he did so much with spotty help around him. But Orlando’s inconsistency throughout the season doomed him.
E-Dog: Derrick Rose
Remember that, at the beginning of this season, no one picked the Bulls to finish higher than 4th in the East, and everyone considered them to still be a major piece away from being a true contender. For the Bulls to win 21 more games than last year and exceed expectations by as much as they have is due mainly to 2 leaders. One is Tom Thibodeau, who instilled the defensive system that the Bulls have executed to devastating effect. The other is Rose, who this year elevated his offensive game to a truly elite level while simultaneously improving his defensive. Not only that, he took leadership over the team (remember when he was considered too lacking in assertiveness to be a leader?) and bought into Thibodeau’s approach from the outset, setting the tone for the rest of the team to fall into place. All this is before even mentioning how Rose kept the team together and in contention through the injuries to Boozer (their headline free-agent pick-up from last summer) and Noah. Stan Van Gundy was right that Rose has been anointed as the MVP well before the end of the season. There’s a very good reason for that: he is this year’s