Bill Simmon's MVP Article and My Rebuttal (Warning Very Long)

silverstyne

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WHO'S THE MVP
By Bill Simmons
Page 2



Say what you want about the NBA, but the league offers seven superior features to every other professional sport: a wildly entertaining draft, a new dress code that caused "Big and Tall Store" stock to jump eight points, the wit and wisdom of Mr. Jalen Rose, cheerleaders who dress like hookers, a ridiculously surreal All-Star Weekend and, of course, the only "Most Valuable Player" award that truly matters.


Can you name the last 10 NFL MVPs? Of course not. Can you remember the last 10 MVPs in each baseball league, and definitively say which guy was better every year? Nope. Do you even know the name of the NHL trophy? Unless you're Canadian, probably not. The MVP concept works best in the NBA: Every player is eligible, everyone plays against one another, it's relatively simple to compare statistics and, if you watch the games, you can always figure out which players stand out over everyone else.


Of course, the experts seem just as confused as they were last season, when Steve Nash stumbled into the award because some people thought it would be fun to vote for a white Canadian dude with bad hair who didn't play defense. As it turned out, Nash raised his game in the playoffs and vindicated everyone who picked him. (Note: I thought Shaq should have won the award and still do.) But that raises a bigger question: What makes for an NBA MVP?


I concentrate on three questions:


1. Ten years from now, who will be the first player from this season that pops into my head?


2. In a giant pickup game with every NBA player waiting to play, and two fans forced to pick sides with their lives depending on the outcome of the game (I think this is how the annual Rucker League tournament works), who would be the first player picked based on the way everyone played that season?


3. If you replaced every MVP candidate with a decent player at their position for the entire season, what would be the effect on their teams' records?


The first two questions are subjective. You might think the 2004-05 season belonged to Nash, whereas I thought it belonged to Shaq. And until this season, I would have picked Shaq first in any pickup game, you may have picked Kobe or LeBron. But the third question isn't nearly as subjective, it's also crucial to this year's dilemma. We're dealing with the deepest pool of potential MVP candidates ever (eight by my count). And I think the choice is pretty clear. But before we get to that, check out some of the names who didn't make the cut:


Shawn Marion, Elton Brand, Pau Gasol, Rasheed Wallace: All of them were indispensable to winning teams. Marion was the most explosive, Brand was the most consistent, Gasol carried the biggest burden and Rasheed is the one you would pick for one big game. You can't say one was more valuable than the others. (Although Gasol's straggly, Survivor-like beard had a Plummer-like impact on him and the Grizzlies, insuring its place in the NBA Beard Hall of Fame with Mike Newlin, Mike Gminski, Coby Dietrich, Bill Walton, Phil Jackson and Aaron McKie.) The important thing to remember is that all of them were better than ...


Kevin Garnett: Can you name another alleged "superstar in his prime" who missed the playoffs for two straight seasons? How was his supporting cast worse than Gasol's crew in Memphis, or even Chris Paul's team in New Orleans? Did you know that we haven't had a former MVP miss the playoffs in consecutive seasons in his prime since Bob McAdoo (who never should have won the MVP in the first place because Rick Barry got robbed)? Isn't it his job to carry a crappy team? What do you think Barkley was doing in the late-'80s and early-'90s in Philly? Nobody in the league gets more of a free ride than KG. Nobody.


(Note: There's a difference between being "competitive" and being "no fun whatsover to play with," and KG crossed that line about five years ago. You can't carry yourself that way for eight months each season without eventually committing a homicide. You just can't. He's wound too tight. So if you're reading this 50 years from now and wondering why KG only made it past Round 1 once in his career -- as well as why he murdered everyone in Minnesota's locker room after a 20-point blowout loss during the 2007-08 season -- please consider everything in this parentheses. Thank you.)


Gilbert Arenas, Paul Pierce: Two splendid individual seasons; two guys who were probably worth 12-15 wins for their respective teams. And I could barely make room for them in the top 15.


Jason Kidd: Firmly entrenched in the "Heather Locklear on 'Spin City' " phase of his career -- he doesn't look good as he once did, but he's still Jason Kidd. And he gets credit for two things: First, he's the only player who could have salvaged Vince Carter's career (like Tarantino taking a chance on Travolta in "Pulp Fiction," only if nobody was hiring Travolta because he didn't try in his last five movies. And second, this current Nets team could win 50 games without rebounders, shot-blockers, and any semblance of a low-post game, as well as a rotation that includes Cliff Robinson, Zoran Planicic, Jacques Vaughn, Lamond Murray and Scott Padgett. Only Kidd could have salvaged this mess. And this is why I hate stats sometimes, because someone like KG will always come off better than someone like Kidd. But the overall objective is to win games, and no matter where he is, Kidd's teams always seem to win more than they lose.


Allen Iverson: Mortal lock to be playing somewhere else next season.


Ben Wallace: In theory, he should be a top-10 pick for starting the Artest melee. Just think, if Wallace had calmed down after the initial shove, Artest never would have lounged on the scorer's table, John Green never would have tossed that drink, the ensuing melee never would have happened, and Detroit's most dangerous rival (an excellent Pacers team) wouldn't have completely self-combusted. Instead, Wallace kept carrying on and trying to reach Artest, and eventually, one of his fans turned into the NBA version of Lee Harvey Oswald. Eighteen months later, the Pacers are floundering and Larry Legend is making noises about blowing everything up.


(By the way, this seems like a good time to mention that Wallace was only suspended for six games. Although David Stern admits privately that, had Wallace handed Lee Harvey Green the cup of soda and screamed, "Throw it at him! Throw it!" ... they probably would have raised it to eight.)


Tim Duncan: In many ways, this isn't his greatest season -- thanks to his Phil Plantieritis or whatever it's called, he couldn't move laterally, couldn't get any lift, wasn't getting as many putbacks, had trouble filling the lane on fast breaks, never looked even remotely comfortable -- and yet, his team kept winning and his numbers didn't look much different than normal. You can't judge a great athlete until he's playing hurt, and in Duncan's case, his consistency was almost heroic. But he wasn't nearly as dominant, and I watched too many Spurs games in which he wasn't even the fifth-best player on the court. So I can't call him an MVP candidate. With many regrets.


Shaquille O'Neal: The best center alive by default (although Yao made a nice run in February and March). He still commands a double-team in every fourth quarter. The referees still call the game differently when he's out there. He's developed into an exceptionally smart passer from the low post. And he remains the league's most entertaining personality, maybe its most popular ambassador since Doctor J.


And with all of that said ... old Shaq is starting to look a little long in the tooth. You knew it was coming; all the stats from every great center forecasted it. Now, it's happening. Justin from Pasadena sums everything up: "With $100 million and 5 [years] left on his contract, and knees that bend no more than 5 degrees, how long do you think it will be before the Knicks make a run at getting Shaq? I'm already getting ready to pre-order my soon-to-be classic Knicks/O'Neal jersey."


(Two notes about that e-mail: First, it's funny because it's true. There's no doubt in hell that Isiah is trading Curry, Crawford and 25 future first-rounders for Shaq in the summer of 2007, followed by Knicks fans rejoicing for the first few months, then eventually turning on the trade and claiming they never liked it in the first place. And second, until last month, I had never received a "Shaq is starting to look washed up" e-mail. Not once.)


All right, enough foreplay. My top eight choices for MVP, in reverse order from eighth to first:


8. Chauncey Billups
The best player on the best team this season. But can you really call anyone "the best player" on a team that works solely because they play so well together?


For instance, "24" wouldn't work without Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer; nobody else could play that part. But "Lost" relies on a number of quality actors, all of whom play a role in the show's success to varying degrees: Jack, Sawyer, Locke, Kate and Hurley (that's their starting five). Personally, I think Sawyer is the best character, not just from an acting standpoint, but from an entertaining/interesting/dramatic standpoint). He's the Rasheed Wallace of the group, someone who doesn't need to carry every episode, brings a ton of stuff to the table and takes nothing off (and they're both funny as hell). As for the rest, Locke is probably Ben Wallace (does all the little stuff); Kate is Tayshaun Prince (the token chick/fifth man); Hurley is Rip Hamilton (totally underrated, always rises to the occasion); and Billups is Jack (the leader of the group).


So here's the question: Does the show work because of Jack, or does it work because of the group as a whole? Obviously, it's because of the group. Well, the same goes for the Pistons; calling Billups a bonafide MVP candidate demeans the contributions of everyone else involved. Would they slip that much with Jason Terry in Billups' spot? Probably not.


(Of course, if Jack ends up taking down The Others, and Billups takes down every contender this spring, maybe we have to re-evaluate.)


7. Chris Paul
The great John Hollinger covered Paul's case in his "third greatest season by a rookie guard ever" column yesterday, even if he didn't give Magic's rookie year nearly enough credit. Remember, Magic was playing out of position that season because of Norm Nixon, and he and Bird DID save the league and all, and he DID average nearly a triple-double in the playoffs and play one of the 10 greatest games in the history of the NBA Finals. (Whatever, we'll have to settle this over fisticuffs at the company barbecue in July.) For the purposes of this column, Paul had the lamest supporting cast of any candidate, played his position about as well as it can be played, and his team overachieved mainly because of him.


Let's say the Hornets finish with 40 wins ... how many would they have won with Deron Williams or Raymond Felton instead of Paul? Twenty? Fifteen? What about the baggage the Hornets had coming into the season, what with the hurricane in New Orleans, new digs in Oklahoma City and everything else? What about how much this team depended on Paul from night to night, even though he was a rookie? I just don't see how anyone can list him lower than seventh. And yes, that screaming is the sound of everyone from Atlanta. Just give them a few seconds.


6. Carmelo Anthony
The best clutch scorer alive -- seven game-winners and a game-tying shot just since Jan. 1, as well as the best clutch numbers of anyone in basketball over the past three seasons (according to 82games.com) -- to the point that we should be using his full name like we do with every other famous assassin. If your life depended on somebody making a game-winning shot in the last 10 seconds, would you pick anyone BUT Melo? I sure wouldn't.


So there's that. He also carried a division-winning Nuggets team that dealt with numerous injuries and numbers problems, a significant trade in mid-February, a glaring lack of outside shooters, and Kenyon Martin gimping around like Ken Reeves on the Bulls. And it's not like he's in his prime; actually, he's only seven months older than LeBron. Maybe there have been some minor flaws here and there -- he takes some quarters off, doesn't rebound enough, acts out sometimes -- but nothing that can't be fixed down the road.


Here's the thing: I'm starting to wonder if LeBron-Wade-Carmelo could become the most important sports rivalry of this generation. Each is great in his own way, each brings something different and unique to the table, and each seems to feed off what's happening with the other two guys. For instance, the Wade-LeBron duel two Saturdays ago (LeBron finished with 47-12-10, Wade with a 44-8-9) wasn't just the most thrilling game of the season, it was a significant experience for anyone who truly gives a crap about this league. Here were two fantastic young players absolutely KILLING it, doing everything they could to win the game, bringing out the absolute best of one another, raising everyone to a higher place.


This was like Pacino and De Niro sharing a scene in "Heat," only if they made the movie together in 1974. This was like Pearl Jam and Nirvana saying in 1992, "Screw it, let's go play at the same tiny club in Seattle and see who the crowd enjoys more." This was like nothing that's ever happened before. I haven't stopped thinking about it for three straight weeks. Could this be where we're headed -- magical game after magical game, like those Celtics-Lakers games in the mid-'80s, only for 12-15 years? What's the ceiling here? Do we even have a ceiling? Ali had Frazier, Bird had Magic, Russell had Chamberlain. Is it possible that LeBron, Wade and Carmelo all have each other? And do you realize that these guys are a combined 66 years old?


Maybe I'm biased as an unabashed NBA junkie, but I truly believe that the collective emergence of LeBron, Wade and Melo could eventually become the most significant thing that ever happened to this league -- bigger than MJ, bigger than Bird and Magic, bigger than everything. I guess we'll see.


5. Steve Nash
Kudos to him for increasing his scoring and seamlessly integrating seven new teammates into Phoenix's offense; in many ways, he was better than last season. He's the only current player whose unselfishness seems to transfer (almost by osmosis) to everyone else on his team. On the flip side, he's even worse defensively than last season; just in the past two months, I watched Shaun Livingston, Delonte West and Kidd completely outplay him in separate games, capped off by Billups simply CREMATING him in Detroit two Sundays ago. Would an MVP ever get decimated like that by someone who plays the same position? Please.


Put it this way: Nash was a cute choice last season, mainly because none of the other candidates stood out, and I could see why someone would have been swayed. (It was like ordering one of those fancy foreign beers at a bar, the ones in the heavy green bottles with the 13-letter name that you can't pronounce, only someone else is drinking it, so you say to yourself, "Ah, screw it, I'm tired of the beer I always drink, lemme try one of those.") But this year? I'm not saying he should be ignored, but if you actually end up picking him, either you're not watching enough basketball or you just want to see a white guy win back-to-back MVP's.


4. Dwyane Wade
Even as recently as four weeks ago, he was my MVP pick ... and then he started struggling, and so did Miami, and now he's hurt. The next three guys just passed him. It's that simple.


3. Dirk Nowitzki
Averaging an astonishing 29-and-10 since the All-Star Break (the only two forwards to average 29-and-10 since the ABA/NBA merger were Bird and the Mailman). He's the only All-Star on a 60-win Dallas team. He shows up for every game. He's an underrated rebounder and superior free-throw shooter in crunch time. He solved the whole "Let's stick a smaller, more athletic guy on him!" strategy by punishing defenders with a variety of herky-jerk moves on the high post. He's German, which makes him fun to dislike whenever he starts sneering at his teammates or arrogantly celebrating after a big bucket. Out of any over-25 player, he made the biggest leap this season; it's hard to imagine anyone meaning more to his team.


Quick Nowitzki story: Clips-Mavs, Monday night, tie game, 18 seconds left. Nowitzki is 5-for-18, but we all know he's getting the final shot -- right at the top of the key, where he's been thriving all season. Naturally, we assume that Dunleavy will send a second guy at him, since you never want to get beat by a franchise guy. So Dallas brings the ball up and feeds Nowitzki on the high post, only Chris Kaman (a gawd-awful defender) switches onto him. And we're waiting for the second guy. And we're waiting. Hell, even Dirk is waiting. Never comes. Finally, with the clock winding down, he puts a quick move on Kaman, upfakes him and drains a 16-footer to win the game, followed by a goofy gesture in which he coldly pulled his jersey out with both forefingers, almost like dueling shotguns. And then his teammates practically chest-bumped him to death.


Here's the point: I wasn't even remotely surprised. Not by any of it. (Well, except for Dunleavy being dumb enough to single-team Dirk with Kaman.) There are franchise guys, and then there are FRANCHISE GUYS. This season, Nowitzki added the caps.


2. LeBron James
Twenty-five months. That's how long it took before one of the Cleveland coaches (and there have been three since LeBron joined the team) made the astounding realization, "Hey, instead of sticking LeBron in the corner or the wing and having entire possessions where he never touches the ball, maybe we should run the offense through him!"


In the words of Colonel James, "Oh, you think so, Doctor?" Really? You want to stick him at the top of the key and run the offense through your best playmaker, as well as someone who's completely unstoppable whenever he decides to drive to the basket? You think that might work?


Now he's putting up 33-8-7 every night, which makes me wonder what would have happened had he handled the ball that much from Day 1. And it's not a very good Cavs team -- nobody plays defense, nobody rebounds, Ilguaskas doesn't fit in at all (terrible signing), even the alleged "shooters" (Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall, etc.) rarely make open shots. Replace LeBron with Mike Miller, throw in the Hughes injury and this was probably a 27-win team. Instead, they'll win 50.


The intriguing subplot: LeBron is figuring out how to take over down the stretch, personified by what happened on Saturday in New Jersey (17 in the final quarter). At least once a game, he does something so explosive, so athletic, so incredible, you can't even believe it happened. The last time I remember feeling this way about a professional athlete was Bo Jackson, who wasn't just great ... he stood out. I attended a spring training game once when Bo scored from third base on a 180-foot pop fly -- standing up. It was awesome to watch.


Well, LeBron reminds me of Bo. On those plays when he says, "Screw it, I'm scoring" and heads toward the basket like a runaway freight train. He's like a young Barkley crossed with a young Shawn Kemp crossed with young Magic, but with a little Bo thrown in. Out of anyone in the league, he's the only player who can cripple the other team with one monster play.


There's a perfect example that Hollinger wrote about on Sunday, but screw it, I'm retelling the story. On Saturday afternoon, I TiVo'ed the Nets-Cavs game because the Nets had won 14 straight and officially reached "record all our games" territory. LeBron completely took over the game in the fourth, capped off by one of the most startling plays I have ever seen: Trailing in the final two minutes, LeBron seized some open space in transition and pulled the Runaway Freight Train move, careening toward the basket as one Net reached in and hacked him, followed by another Net on the other side reaching in and fouling him, and then a third guy just to make sure he wouldn't score. LeBron was cradling the ball, taking two giant steps toward the basket and absorbing those karate chops. BOOM-BOOM-BOOM. Any normal human being would have either lost the ball or lost their balance and tumbled to the ground.


Well, LeBron kept going -- almost like a tight end bouncing off three safeties in the open field. As the last guy walloped him, LeBron jumped in the air (where did he get the strength?!?!?), regained control of the ball, hung in the air, hung in the air for another split-second, gathered the ball (at this point, he was drifting under the right side of the rim), and finally unleashed a righty layup that banked in. The shot was so BLEEPING INCREDIBLE, the referee practically jumped in delight as he called the continuation foul. The Nets were done after that. He ripped their hearts out, MJ-style. Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it.


And he's 21. Even more unbelievable.


So why isn't LeBron James the 2006 MVP? Two reasons. First, he hasn't committed himself on the defensive end yet. It's not even an effort thing, I think he's just been poorly coached. Bird and Magic couldn't guard anyone either, but they were always great help defenders, and Bird actually controlled games on that end like a free safety (just watch Game 6 of the 1986 Finals, you'll see what I mean). Defensively, LeBron is a complete non-factor.


More importantly, the next guy has just been a little bit better ...


1. Kobe Bryant
You don't know how much this kills me. Actually, you probably do. But Mamba passes all three MVP questions ...


Question No. 1: When remembering this season 10 years from now, which player will pop into your head first?


Answer: Kobe. The dude scored 62 in three quarters against Dallas, then 81 against Toronto a few weeks later. He's about to become the fifth player in NBA history to average 35 points a game (along with Wilt, MJ, Elgin and Rick Barry). He made up with Shaq. He made up with Phil. He made up with Nike. He appeared on the cover of Slam Magazine with a Mamba snake wrapped around him. He did everything but make the obligatory cameo on "Will and Grace." No player took more abuse from writers, broadcasters and radio hosts this season, but Kobe seemed to feed off that negative energy. It was almost Bondsian. And just when it kept seeming like he might wear down, he'd toss up another 50 just to keep you on your toes. Kobe was relentless. That's the best way to describe him this season.


Question No. 2: In the proverbial giant pickup game with every NBA player waiting to play, who would be the first player picked this season?


Answer: Kobe. He's the best all-around player in the league, the best scorer, the best competitor, and the one guy who terrifies everyone else. Plus, if you DIDN'T pick him, he would make it his mission to haunt you on the other team.


Question No. 3: If you replaced every MVP candidate with a decent player at their position for the entire season, what would be the effect on their teams' records?


Answer: If you replaced Kobe with a decent 2-guard (someone like Jamal Crawford) for the entire 2005-06 Lakers season, they would have won between 15 and 20 games. I can say that in complete confidence. Terrible team. When Smush Parker and Kwame Brown are your third- and fourth-best players, you shouldn't even be allowed to watch the playoffs on TV. Throw Kobe in the mix and they're headed for 45 wins. So he's been worth 25 victories for them. Minimum.


In a weird way, Kobe ended up getting what he always wanted: The Lakers completely revolve around him. He gets to shoot 25-30 times per game. He gets to take every big shot at crunch-time. He gets all the credit. Nobody else on the team dares to challenge him. And even better, because he lucked out with the only possible coach who could make this cockamamie situation work, his supporting cast kills itself to make him look good.


Basically, he's Elvis and everyone else is Joe Esposito. And it's working! That's the crazy thing.

Now they're a sleeper in the West -- seriously, do you think Phoenix wants any part of them in Round 1? -- and have the only player in the league who can win a playoff series by himself. He's the Black Mamba, he's Kobe Bryant, he's the 2006 MVP, and since we finally have that settled, I will now light myself on fire.
 
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silverstyne

silverstyne

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Rebuttal

I just read that article and was so pissed off that I managed to write a very long email to Mr. Simmons airing out my dismay. Nash at No. 5 is way too much disrespect. Anway, here's the content of my message and I hope you guys can rant too! ;)

Nash vs Kobe: The Case for MVP (A Rebuttal)

Dear Mr. Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy,

I respect your choice for Kobe, I really do, but I just have to write a rebuttal after reading your REASONS for doing so. I was expecting better logic from your article and it pains me to see that it is logic, which is actually missing the most. I have carefully read your criterion for the MVP award, and I can more or less accept your rankings for some of the candidates. But Kobe as No. 1 most deserving? How can he beat out Nash whom you placed just at No. 5? Following are your list of criterion and the basis on why Nash should win over Kobe (I repeat this piece is an answer for Mr. Simmon’s article for the issue of Nash vs Kobe only).

1. Ten years from now, who will be the first player from this season that pops into my head?

The MVP is NOT a popularity contest, nor should it be. Deep consideration should be given to the actual contributions made by each candidate to the team goals and to personal statistics. You say Kobe, Nash or any candidate would be remembered for the things they did for the season 2006? Most probably, the best player of the eventual champion would be the one most remembered (In this respect, Billups would have a better shot, but Nash would still have a bigger chance than Kobe given their team’s overall win-loss record). Nash and Kobe are both popular in their own right – Kobe for his high-scoring ways and Nash for his high-scoring Suns. One popular for his individual statistics, the other popular because he embodies the spirit of teamwork and self-lessness. In a popularity contest among fans, Kobe may win, however, if you ask teammates, coaches and fellow players, Nash will win this criteria by a landslide. I see this criterrion as a wash with Kobe having a slight edge.

2. In a giant pickup game with every NBA player waiting to play, and two fans forced to pick sides with their lives depending on the outcome of the game (I think this is how the annual Rucker League tournament works), who would be the first player picked based on the way everyone played that season?

Let me emphasize the Kobe is the indeed a better player and it goes that many people will pick him as part of their team just by following this line of reasoning. But haven’t you even thought for once of the chemistry issues the comes with having Mr. Bryant? Kobe has a reputation for ball-hogging and show-boating (from his rookie years to the present mind you), some writers even saying that he makes his teammates worse. On the other hand, you have the exact opposite personality. Nash is a glue that holds a team together, not to mention the fact that he is a dead-eye shooter and the ultimate passer. I’d definitiely want him on my team as THE point guard. As for Mr. Simmons, I don’t know if he has ever thought of playing with Kobe. In 1 vs 1 games, Kobe would be the perfect player but alas basketball is a team sport. I see Nash winning this criterion.

3. If you replaced every MVP candidate with a decent player at their position for the entire season, what would be the effect on their teams' records?

Its probably true that the Lakers without Kobe would be a sorry team. I can argue that the Suns would be too without Nash. In fact, there’s this actual record of the Suns going 0-for without Little Stevie, including the game today. Nash should win based on this fact alone. However, let’s delve some more into this issue – the issue of who has the bigger burden. This topic of who has had to carry his team more. We all know that this latest Laker team incarnation would be a playoff bubble team, even as early during the pre-season. Now that it has managed to squeak as the 7th seed, in a non-bearing game at that (because the Suns rested Nash and Bell), you’re ready to annoint Kobe as MVP? This Laker team has barely even managed to meet expectations. Who’s to say that the MINISCULE improvement of this year’s Laker team is not attributable to Phil Jackson? Now the Sun’s were supposed to be a lottery team without Stoudemire. Look where they are now, No. 2 on the Western conference seedings and with the 4th best record on the ENTIRE NBA. If you’re not attributing that to Nash, I don’t know who else you’re gonna pin it to. Again, Nash should be winning this criterion by a wide margin.

 

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silverstyne said:
Its probably true that the Lakers without Kobe would be a sorry team. I can argue that the Suns would be too without Nash. In fact, there’s this actual record of the Suns going 0-for without Little Stevie, including the game today. Nash should win based on this fact alone. However, let’s delve some more into this issue – the issue of who has the bigger burden. This topic of who has had to carry his team more. We all know that this latest Laker team incarnation would be a playoff bubble team, even as early during the pre-season.


Only 4 of these analysts predicted playoffs for the Lakers, and as the 8 seed.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=dailydime-LALPreview0506

And many Laker players are having career years playing on this team...saying Kobe doesn't make others better (as if that's even his role on the team) is not a good argument.


I think the award comes down to Nash or Kobe...giving it to anyone else this year is B.S. LeBron in the East is terribly weak. The Lakers are 6 games over .500 in the east matchups they've had, and 4 teams there may make it with sub-500 records. And with all that, LeBron is the 3rd most deserving candidate. Don't even mention Wade...worthless, no D and no J. Billups is ok and Dirk is too, but really the only players having MVP type seasons are Kobe and Nash.
 

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Simmons and Hollinger were both touting Wade as their MVP, just a short time ago and were declaring him as the next coming of Jesus, therefore better than Michael Jordan. Last year, Simmons was proclaiming the god-like ability of Shaq, and now, in a years time, Shaq is apparently all but irrelevant to the success of the Heat. And, as it turns out, he was mistaken about Wade; it was Kobe who was Jesus all along.

I'd love to take a trip to Boston just to punch Simmons in the nuts.
 
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hsandhu

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D-Dogg said:
Only 4 of these analysts predicted playoffs for the Lakers, and as the 8 seed.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=dailydime-LALPreview0506

And many Laker players are having career years playing on this team...saying Kobe doesn't make others better (as if that's even his role on the team) is not a good argument.


I think the award comes down to Nash or Kobe...giving it to anyone else this year is B.S. LeBron in the East is terribly weak. The Lakers are 6 games over .500 in the east matchups they've had, and 4 teams there may make it with sub-500 records. And with all that, LeBron is the 3rd most deserving candidate. Don't even mention Wade...worthless, no D and no J. Billups is ok and Dirk is too, but really the only players having MVP type seasons are Kobe and Nash.


That link you provided almost makes nash a no brainer (although I don't think he is). Look at how low the experts have the suns, and that's thinking amare would come back, and kurt is healthy.

And as far as the simmons's column, that guy loses credibility with every column, simply because he flips and flops. He says Lebron is not a great defender (he's right) but last year during the mid-season awards he said
Lebron was defense player of the year.

As little as several weeks ago he had nash second, and was praising him.
Now rips him for his performance against livingston, billups, completely
ignorning nash is gutting it out as his hammy flared up. When healthy he
was brilliant.
 

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hsandhu said:
That link you provided almost makes nash a no brainer (although I don't think he is). Look at how low the experts have the suns, and that's thinking amare would come back, and kurt is healthy.

At least a FEW of them accurately gauged your team, and only a couple actually hated on them enough to say they wouldn't make the playoffs. A few even nailed your positioning. But yeah, ESPN has some unfounded hate for the Suns for whatever reason, just like they do the Lakers.

It's ESPN of course, which is a bunch of hacks when it comes to NFL and NBA coverage. Their NBA knowledge is paltry at best and they try to be more entertaining than informative (insert Bill Simmons, whom I hate as he is a dirty green cancer Celtic lover).
 

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I love Nash, and he has beenjust as good as he was last year, if not better. With that said, there are only 2 guys that deserve the MVP this year. Kobe or LeBron.

LeBron's all around game has been nothing short of astounding, and honestly, I have never seen anyone as good as he is at such a young age. However, he still has a little ways to go as far as killer instinct, and taking over at the end of games. Also, you have to factor in the fact that other then being top heavy, he has ben competing in a far inferior conference, where half of the playoff field could be below .500.

Bill Simmons article made a lot of sense, especially if you consider how much he (admittedly) hates Kobe. The fact is, at the beginning of the year everyone said that the Lakers would be lucky to make the playoffs. Kobe's supporting cast, other then Odom, is below average to say the least. Plus, if you factor in that the only team with an average age lower then the Lakers is the Hawks. With all that, if the Lakers win on Wednesday, he will have almost single handedly carried this team to 45 wins.

Now, I will admit, in their last 13 games (10-3 in that stretch), Kwame and Odom have really brought their games to another level. However, much of the season Kobe has had to fight constant double and triple teams, while needing to score almost 40 points a game just to give the team a chance to win. He also has been by far the best perimeter defender on the team, and most likely the most dominant player in the league.

I know that none of you will agree with me, and that is fine. If one of you went to the Laker board to try and argue that Nash is the MVP, you probably wouldn't get too far. That said, what Kobe has done this year, has been beyond any reasonable expectation that has been put on him, or his team. There is no doubt, that Kobe Bryant was the best player in the NBA this year, bar none.
 

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LakeShowMan said:
I know that none of you will agree with me, and that is fine. If one of you went to the Laker board to try and argue that Nash is the MVP, you probably wouldn't get too far. That said, what Kobe has done this year, has been beyond any reasonable expectation that has been put on him, or his team. There is no doubt, that Kobe Bryant was the best player in the NBA this year, bar none.

Have to disagree with you again, LSM. The MVP is not an award for the best player in the NBA, it's an award for the most valuable player. Don't confuse the two.

What's funny is the Laker guys seem to be pretty upset that we Suns fans are pushing for Steve Nash over Kobe Bryant. Like they think that we see Kobe as a bad player. But that's far from the truth. I don't think you'll find anyone on here that doesn't think Kobe is either the best or extremely close to the best player in the NBA. But the MVP debate is a different story that a lot of people (including the media) just don't get.

To me, there are three legitimate MVP candidates: Steve Nash, Lebron James, and Dirk Nowitzki. My pick obviously is Nash with Lebron a close 2nd. Both of their values to their respective teams are pretty similar, but while Lebron's team got the #4 in the weak East, the Suns got the #2 in the much tougher Western Conference.

Kobe Bryant is a dynamic and amazing player, no doubt about that. But MVP? Not quite.
 

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It's hard to argue that Kobe Bryant has not been the best player in the NBA this year. He's been simply unreal and if there were no other truly worthy candidates on excellent teams (such as the case was in the American League when A-Rod won MVP with the last place Rangers), then Kobe would deservedly walk away with the MVP. But unfortuantely for Kobe there are better teams around than the Lakers with candidates that have comparable resumes.
 

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Chaplin said:
Have to disagree with you again, LSM. The MVP is not an award for the best player in the NBA, it's an award for the most valuable player. Don't confuse the two.

What's funny is the Laker guys seem to be pretty upset that we Suns fans are pushing for Steve Nash over Kobe Bryant. Like they think that we see Kobe as a bad player. But that's far from the truth. I don't think you'll find anyone on here that doesn't think Kobe is either the best or extremely close to the best player in the NBA. But the MVP debate is a different story that a lot of people (including the media) just don't get.

To me, there are three legitimate MVP candidates: Steve Nash, Lebron James, and Dirk Nowitzki. My pick obviously is Nash with Lebron a close 2nd. Both of their values to their respective teams are pretty similar, but while Lebron's team got the #4 in the weak East, the Suns got the #2 in the much tougher Western Conference.

Kobe Bryant is a dynamic and amazing player, no doubt about that. But MVP? Not quite.

Name one other guy you could have put in Kobe's place, that would have carried them to 44/45 wins. Other then maybe a healthy Duncan (which he never was this year), I don't think there is one. Even of the guys you mentioned, only LeBron could have MAYBE carried the Lakers to the record that they are this year. You put Kobe on the same Cavs in the east, and they win 55 games.

Like I said, just my opinion, but that is how I see it, and how I judge value.
 

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^^^

I honestly believe that if Nash was with that Lakers squad, minus Kobe, they would have more wins right now.
 
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It really would simplify things if everyone would be clear what they're talking about: Who they think should win the award, or who they think will win the award.

"Should" is always going to lead to arguments, because no one can agree on the criteria, and even the criteria that people state are highly subjective. Are the Lakers without Bryant a worse team than the Suns without Nash, or the Cavs without James? Who knows? There's no way to establish that.

And if the Suns' "role players" have better stats than those on the other teams, does that prove that Nash has more to work with, or does it prove that he excels at "making his teammates better"? It's all in how you spin it. The numbers are what they are, and everything else is posturing.

If you're talking about who "will" win, Bryant does not need to be part of the discussion. The NBA MVP goes to a player on an elite team. That might not be fair or right, but it's a fact.

I guarantee you that Bryant will not win the MVP this season, because his team didn't even qualify for the playoffs until the 80th game. Is that the way it "should" be? I don't know, and frankly I don't care. But it's the way it is.
 

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LakeShowMan said:
Name one other guy you could have put in Kobe's place, that would have carried them to 44/45 wins. Other then maybe a healthy Duncan (which he never was this year), I don't think there is one. Even of the guys you mentioned, only LeBron could have MAYBE carried the Lakers to the record that they are this year. You put Kobe on the same Cavs in the east, and they win 55 games.

Like I said, just my opinion, but that is how I see it, and how I judge value.

If you swap Kobe and Lebron, the Lakers win 50 games. Lebron does more than Kobe. Lebron dishes and rebounds, and plays better defense, gets other players involved. Kobe won the scoring title, and he gets the "best offensive player in the NBA" award. I have Lebron a very close 2nd behind Nash for MVP. I wouldnt be upset if Lebron won it, its so close.
 

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nowagimp said:
If you swap Kobe and Lebron, the Lakers win 50 games. Lebron does more than Kobe. Lebron dishes and rebounds, and plays better defense, gets other players involved. Kobe won the scoring title, and he gets the "best offensive player in the NBA" award. I have Lebron a very close 2nd behind Nash for MVP. I wouldnt be upset if Lebron won it, its so close.

You lose ALL credibility when you claim that LeBron plays better defense.

Plus, LeBron has lead a better suporting cast to only 3 more wins, in a lousy conference (the last 3 seeds in the playoffs are all under .500, with the 5 seed @ .500).

I understand that you think that Kobe is an overrated ballhog, but, come on now.
 

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Steve Nash runs the most efficient offense in the league and his top scorer(Marion), and starting two guard(Bell), do not take anyone off the dribble. The suns have near the top shooting percentage in the NBA with alot of perimeter scoring while not having a low post threat. EVERY expert observer(and former player-announcer) said the suns offense would take a big hit without a low post threat, and yet its the best offense in the NBA. The suns lost 2 of 5 starters, impacting both post offense and defense dramatically, and got 52 wins for the division title and second seed.

Take 2 of 5 starters(including a top 2 scorer) off any other team and that team tanks.

Pistons: Billups team might not make the playoffs w/o 2 starters.

Mavs: missing just Josh Howard turns then into a .500 team, even with Dirk.

Spurs: Maybe Muhhamad, but the loss of Bowen, parker or Ginnobli would be disastrous.

Heat: No Diesel, big hurt. Lets face it they dont win 50 without 2 of the top 7, not including shaq or wade.


That is why Nash deserves the MVP. There must be 6-7 players on the suns having career FG% AND scoring years.
 

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elindholm said:
It really would simplify things if everyone would be clear what they're talking about: Who they think should win the award, or who they think will win the award.

"Should" is always going to lead to arguments, because no one can agree on the criteria, and even the criteria that people state are highly subjective. Are the Lakers without Bryant a worse team than the Suns without Nash, or the Cavs without James? Who knows? There's no way to establish that.

And if the Suns' "role players" have better stats than those on the other teams, does that prove that Nash has more to work with, or does it prove that he excels at "making his teammates better"? It's all in how you spin it. The numbers are what they are, and everything else is posturing.

If you're talking about who "will" win, Bryant does not need to be part of the discussion. The NBA MVP goes to a player on an elite team. That might not be fair or right, but it's a fact.

I guarantee you that Bryant will not win the MVP this season, because his team didn't even qualify for the playoffs until the 80th game. Is that the way it "should" be? I don't know, and frankly I don't care. But it's the way it is.

True. Other then Kareem back in the day when he played for Milwaukee, not other guy has won MVP on a non-elite team.

Also, like you said, I know Kobe won't win it. I just think he should, and I believe he was the most valuable (to his team) player, as well as the best one in the NBA this year.
 

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Sundance said:
^^^

I honestly believe that if Nash was with that Lakers squad, minus Kobe, they would have more wins right now.


Then you are crazy. Asylum crazy.
 

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D-Dogg said:
Then you are crazy. Asylum crazy.

Why? You see something wrong with building a teammates confidence up, as opposed to beating it down with a stick?

I think we can all surmise who will play what role.
 

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I hope Kobe gets it...honestly.

That way, when the Suns sweep the Lakers(which probably will happen), it will make it that much more obvious, that a ball hog can score all the points in the world and still not make his team better.
 

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This is an LA Times article, addressing the MVP. He has made some interesting points.

http://www.latimes.com/sports/basketball/nba/lakers/la-sp-adande17apr17,1,1366201.column?coll=la-headlines-sports-nba-lakers

Looking at Results, Nash Is the Pick

April 17, 2006

This falls under the category of unintended consequences. In the process of clinching a playoff berth for themselves, the Lakers strengthened the case for Steve Nash as the league's most valuable player.

With Nash sitting on the Phoenix Suns' bench wearing a jeans-and-sports-coat combo, the Suns were a mess. The Lakers made them look like a lottery-bound squad instead of the Pacific Division champions. Phoenix played without a sense of purpose, had no team identity. It was like watching the "Sopranos" crew while Tony was laid up in the hospital.

Nash's impact is so big that his absence even hurt Kobe Bryant's MVP candidacy. Since the Steve-less Suns couldn't keep the game close, Bryant (43 points) sat out the final six minutes and didn't get the chance to post another, potentially influential, 50-point performance. Instead of hearing chants of "M-V-P" in the waning moments, any voting media member who tuned in heard "We want tacos."

Because the Lakers held the Suns below 90 points in the 109-89 victory, public address announcer Lawrence Tanter told the fans they'd receive two free tacos at a fast-food restaurant.

That took priority over the fact the Lakers had just secured a spot in the playoffs. Maybe it's because the opening round feels like it will be a quick drive-through instead of the first course of the lavish postseason meals we used to feast on here. There wasn't too much exuberance in the Laker locker room. This is a franchise that doesn't celebrate the ordinary.

"It's a step in the right direction," Bryant said.

And Bryant made a leap back into the good side of the sporting public's opinion. However, good first steps are not the stuff of MVP awards. Best player? Bryant established himself as that. But in the history of the league there have probably been as many times when the best player did not win the MVP as when he did.

What's the difference? How should we define an MVP?

I liked Phil Jackson's take.

"I think the most valuable player has to bring his team to a certain sense of excellence," Jackson said.

And it usually involves bringing a team a division championship, at the very least.

At its simplest, basketball is about creating better shot opportunities for yourself than your opponents, which gives your team a better chance to win. That's reflected in field goal percentage and victories. The magic number for MVPs is 50. Fifty victories, 50% shooting.


Since the Magic-Bird era began in 1979-80 — which I mark as the start of the superstar-oriented NBA — the last 26 MVPs have reached at least one of those numbers (victories pro-rated for the lockout-shortened 1999 season). Seventeen of them have hit both.

Bryant is shooting 45% and the Lakers can get 45 victories if they beat the Hornets on Tuesday. For all that he's done, it's not enough to overcome a quarter-century of history.

Bryant's 35-points-per-game season, in which he has six 50-point games, evokes comparisons to Michael Jordan's 1986-87 season, when Jordan hit the 50 mark eight times and averaged 37.1 points per game. But the Bulls had a 40-42 record that season and Magic Johnson won the MVP award by averaging 23.9 points, 12.2 assists and 6.3 rebounds while leading the Lakers to a 65-17 record.

After Sunday's game, I asked Hubie Brown to recap the MVP analysis he did for ABC's broadcast. Yeah, I could have TiVo'd it, but there's nothing better than getting a Hubie Brown Breakdown in person.

"Me — just me — I'm picking Steve Nash," Brown said. "The reason, I said, they have seven new guys, six of them in their top eight scoring, seven guys have had career years. I said he's answered the bell.

"He shot 50% [from the field], 40% [on three-pointers] and 92% [from the free-throw line]. Only three other guys in the history of the game have done that: Bird, Reggie Miller and Mark Price. So I said: You have to understand what he's doing. The team won 62 games last year, they won 52 already this year and they still have not had Kurt Thomas [for 27 games] or [Amare] Stoudemire" for 77 games.

I spent Sunday morning going over this confusing race and arrived at Nash as well.

While Bryant has the advantage of willpower, he also has the luxury of volume; he's taken almost 300 more shots this season compared to runner-up Allen Iverson. (Iverson's 42% shooting in 2000-01 is the only MVP since 1980 to shoot lower than Bryant's number this season.)

Nash won the MVP with averages of 15.5 points and 11.5 assists last year. This season he's at 19 points and 10.5 assists.

To watch Nash feed his teammates and inspire them to run the court because they know they will be rewarded with the rock is to see teamwork exemplified. I call Nash Mr. Drummond, because I haven't seen a white man take such good care of black people since "Diff'rent Strokes."

You'd have to go back to the days when that show aired to find an MVP from a team that won fewer than 50 games and lost in the first round of the playoffs: Houston's Moses Malone in 1981-82.

If I felt better about the Lakers' chances in the first round -- probably against the Suns, I'd feel better about naming Bryant the MVP. It's possible that an extraordinary effort by Bryant could lift his inexperienced squad past the Suns. That's what this season has been about for him: stretching the imagination, bringing everything in play. A hundred points? Outscoring an opponent single-handedly? It could happen.

But the MVP isn't about possibility. It's about production and results over the course of the season. Even on a day when the Lakers achieved an important milestone, it made you realize what they haven't done.
 

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carrrnuttt said:
Why? You see something wrong with building a teammates confidence up, as opposed to beating it down with a stick?

I think we can all surmise who will play what role.

Wrong. I think you are pretending that one guy plays one role, and the other plays another.

Kobe isn't a confidence killer. Sorry. Now that the team understands the tri much better, Lamar is playing like an All Star, Kwame is showing up huge, Luke is having very good games, Smush who was a nobody in the league is playing well, etc. People are having career bests in categories, all while Kobe is having an historic season.

Nash would not squeeze much more out of the Lakers roster, and he wouldn't be good for 40 points when requested.

Nash fits D'Antoni's strategies to a t, and he is great in Phx. I don't think Nash would be as effective in Phil's system at all, it isn't a system that you need a strong PG in. I don't think Kobe would gel in the PHX system either, fwiw. However, I think he would take LeBron's team to the finals, where I doubt LeBron would bring the Lakers to the playoffs.

The fact that Kwame Brown is rounding out, working hard and playing hard on defense shows that Kobe has had a positive influence on the kid, unlike MJ who DID beat Kwame's confidence down with a stick.

Just because Kobe isn't the Steve Nash of leaders, does not mean he is a poor leader. His teammates and coach say otherwise. I really couldn't care less what the media has to say about it.
 

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Card Trader said:
I hope Kobe gets it...honestly.

That way, when the Suns sweep the Lakers(which probably will happen), it will make it that much more obvious, that a ball hog can score all the points in the world and still not make his team better.


And I hope Nash gets it, giving Kobe and the team even more motivation to win the first round series and send Steve home before he gets his trophy.
 

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D-Dogg said:
And I hope Nash gets it, giving Kobe and the team even more motivation to win the first round series and send Steve home before he gets his trophy.

What, other than you being a homer, makes you think the Lakers have ANY shot against the Suns? Was it the previous 7 games against the Nash led Suns or the last game, without Nash and Bell?

Too funny!
 

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hm...
whose opinion do i give more credence to - the venerable and STILL insightful Hubie Brown or a couple Lakers honks on this board?
The Hube has the best analysis.
Lakers honks - i don't blame you for your loyalty to Kobe the adulterer and perhaps rapist.
 

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What, other than you being a homer, makes you think the Lakers have ANY shot against the Suns? Was it the previous 7 games against the Nash led Suns or the last game, without Nash and Bell?

Too funny!

What other than every game this year that the Suns won against the Lakers came with the Lakers on the second end of road back to backs following overtime games, makes you think the Suns will manhandle the Lakers?

What make you think your slumping team is invincible?

They may not do it, but the Lakers bouncing the Suns in round one will be quite tasty indeed.
 

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