Statistically there is no basis as to what defines an MVP. There is no prerequisite amount of points, rebounds, or assists a player must average in order to be proclaimed MVP. In fact, many players receive their MVP award in what is not considered their best statistical season. Kobe Bryant’s 2008 MVP came when he averaged 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. By comparison, Kobe’s stats in the previous season were 31.6 / 5.7 / 5.4.*
*Kobe’s best statistical season? Not his ridiculous 35.4 / 5.3 / 4.5 he put up in 2006, but his 2003 campaign was in my opinion the most impressive. Kobe averaged a career high 6.9 rebounds per game, a career high 2.2 steals per game, and a nearly-career high 5.9 assists per game. It’s also the first season Kobe really started taking 3s, and it’s also the season he scored 40+ points in 9 consecutive games and saw him make an unheard-of-at-the-time 12 three pointers in one game including 9 of them consecutively. Check out the video before for some highlights from that season to the tune of the greatest montage song of all time.
Quick, name one statistical difference between Dirk Nowitzki’s past 5 NBA seasons. Exactly, there was nothing statistically outstanding about Dirk’s 2007 NBA season, however he won the MVP that season nevertheless. In fact, Amar’e Stoudemire had a season last year that was statistically very similar to Dirk’s MVP season. Steve Nash had a better statistical season last year than the first year he won an MVP in 2005. The point is, stats don’t really mean a thing when it comes to selecting the league MVP.
Most articles that include an MVP discussion elect to first define the term so we know what they’re arguing for. Essentially the NBA MVP award is defined as the best player in the league for that season. However, this can be interpreted in many ways.
Some people like to define the award as, “if you took away this player from his team, how much would the team be impacted?” In other words, how many games is this player responsible for wining for his team? One requirement for this definition is that the team have a pretty good record.
Others define the award as, “If you had to win one game of this season, regardless of the rest of your roster, who would you pick first if you had to win one game?” This is essentially a question of who was the alpha-male for the season. This is not to be confused with the, “If it’s a tie ball game with 2 minutes left, who do you want on your team?” If that was the case, Kobe would have won the MVP 9 years in a row. He has been voted by NBA GMs as the player they most want taking the last shot of a ball game for 9 consecutive years.
Most people probably define MVP as the best player on the best team in the league. Again this requires that his team be among the best in the league, but that only makes sense since great players should be able to lift their team to a good record.
The NBA MVP is selected by a panel of voters who are chosen from the media (sportswriters and broadcasters). Voting is not made public, and each voter casts a vote for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner. When it comes down to it, the player who wins the MVP is the player that the media deserves to win it. The MVP Award, is quite literally, a popularity contest.
Remember back in the day when Kobe was #8 and when he was still sponsored by Adidas? Check out this video for some bad muthaf’in dunks.
The way the media and the public view each NBA season determines who will win the MVP. When Steve Nash won his back-to-back MVPs in 2005 and 2006, everybody was on the bandwagon. The “7 Seconds or Less” D’antoni Suns were fun, popular, and extremely entertaining to watch. They were a great regular season team, and they revolutionized the NBA with their fast-break style of play.
Take a look at the past two seasons: Lebron James won the previous two NBA MVPs by a landslide. Now that the media has given Lebron his due, I think it’s safe to say there’s almost no chance he’s going to win the MVP for a third consecutive year (a ridiculous NBA season record and individual achievements would give him a chance, but the presence of teammates Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade would still probably dilute his voter share too much.)
Now the media is looking for someone new to award the MVP. With Kevin Durant’s stellar play last season followed by his performance in the FIBA World Championships, the media has already essentially anointed Durant as the favorite for the MVP award this season.
For Kobe Bryant to win the award this season, as ridiculous at this sounds, he’s going to have to win it from Kevin Durant.
Next: One is Not Enough