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What is an NBA MVP?

Mar 20, 2007 – 2:42 AM
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Nate Jones

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After reading True Hoop and Slam Online's posts today, I had to ask myself: What exactly is an NBA MVP? Is he the best player on one of the best teams? Is he the most outstanding player in the league? Is he the most valuable player to a team? Is he the most the all around/versatile player in the league?

Throughout the NBA's history, the MVP was always about who the best player in the league was. As long as your team had some sort of winning record and you were the best player, you won the award. But something has changed over the years, as no one can really put there finger on how the award is determined.

You could say that Michael Jordan's team's circumstances from his 1988 MVP season and Kobe Bryant's team's circumstances in 2006 and 2007 are no different. Yet today Kobe has no chance of winning the MVP. Even if he were to score 50 or more points five more times this season and lead his team on a ten game streak going into the playoffs, he still wouldn't win the award. In fact, I wouldn't even be surprised if voters didn't place him in the top three in voting.

Last year, when he had a much better year than he is having now (one of the greatest in NBA history, I might add), Kobe only finished fourth in the MVP voting. Even if you didn't think he was the best, there is no way that he should have finished anything below second last year.

The MVP used to be about who was the best or the most outstanding player in the league for that particular season. It just so happens that most of the time, the most outstanding player has been on one of the top three or four teams in the league. In my opinion Kobe Bryant is currently the league's best player. For the past two seasons he has been the league's leading scorer as well as one of its top defensive guards. His presence alone has allowed a mediocre team to overachieve two years in a row. Yet because his team is not surrounded by more talent or on one of the top teams in the league, he's not considered an MVP candidate.

As mentioned above, Michael Jordan won the MVP award in 1988 under similar circumstances to Bryant. He was by far the best player in the league that season, but his Chicago Bulls were far from the one of the best teams in the league. At the time, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were the two best players on the two best teams in the league. MVP voters didn't doubt their greatness. It's just that in 1988, Jordan uplifted a mediocre team to a level that no one else in the league could. What's the difference between Jordan's 1988 accomplishments and Kobe's accomplishments of the last two seasons? Yeah, Dirk and Steve Nash are the two best players from the two best teams in the league? But are they really the best players in the league? Even Dirk would probably tell you they aren't.

So you tell me...What is an NBA MVP?

Post Note: If the Jordan in 1998 example is not enough for you, also see: Bob Petit from 1956, Kareem from 1976, and Moses Malone from 1979 and 1982.
Filed under: Sports