LeBron James earned his second straight NBA Most Valuable Player award on Sunday. The Cleveland Cavaliers star won the prize with 116 out of 123 possible first-place votes.
Seven so-called NBA experts deserve to get their voting privileges revoked. Immediately.
I will admit the voting criteria for the NBA’s MVP has always been subjective. Should the award go to the player with the best statistics? Or should it go to the best player on the league’s best team?
With so many options on how to vote, it’s clear why -- in the past -- determining who the league’s most valuable player was very difficult.
The only way there would ever be a clear-cut choice for the prize would be if the player on the league’s best team also had the best statistics in the NBA.
Not only did James lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to the best record in the entire league, but he did so with the best overall production of any player.
James wrapped up his 2009-10 campaign with yet another monster year. The Cavs forward put up 29.7 points on 50.3% shooting, 7.3 rebounds, 8.6 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1 block per game. He had a PER of 31.37, and a lower assist-turnover ratio than anyone in the NBA not named: Chris Paul, Carlos Arroyo, Luke Ridnour, Jose Calderon, or Mike Bibby.
James is not without flaws. His defense has not been as good this season as it was last, and he is still prone to making bad decisions in crunch time. He is nowhere near a good enough three-point shooter to constantly spot up and take long jumpers with games on the line, yet he seems to think he is.
That being said, you take a look at the Cleveland Cavaliers roster and cross out LeBron James, there aren’t many other household names. Unlike other well-known superstars, James does not have a Pau Gasol/Ron Artest or Kevin Garnett/Ray Allen backing him up. Granted, Antawn Jamison is a versatile scorer, Mo Williams is a solid guard, and you can count on 20 good minutes every few games from Shaquille O’Neal. However, none of these players could be the “number one option” on their own. Not to mention, Jamison was only brought on board for the second half of the season.
The seven first-place votes that did not go to James went to Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard. Both Durant and Howard are sure-fire All-NBA First Team talents, and both have promising futures ahead of them in the league. However, neither player even deserved to be mentioned in the MVP discussion over James.
At 21 years old, Durant has changed the discussion from whether he will be a phenomenal talent or not, to whether he will go down as one of the greatest to play the game. The Oklahoma City Thunder swingman became the league’s youngest scoring champion ever and led his team to a 50-win season.
However, the statistical comparison between James and Durant really speaks for itself:
James: 29.7 PPG, 50.3 % FG,, 7.3 RPG, 8.6 APG.
Durant: 30.1 PPG, 47.6%, 7.6 RPG, 2.8 APG
James did all this while leading his team to eleven more wins that the Durant did his team.
Howard is putting up a league-leading 13.2 rebounds per game, 9.7 of which are defensive rebounds. He’s also blocking 2.79 blocks per game, and spearheading the defense that holds the teams to the lowest field goal shooting percentage in the league. The Magic center has led the league in rebounding and blocked shots for two straight years.
The problem with giving him the crown over James, however, is that he could not lead his team to the best record in the Eastern Conference. The same Eastern Conference that James' Cavaliers have dominated for the past two years.
The seven experts that did not vote for James fall into three categories:
1.) Blind, devoted fans of a particular team who believe their boy deserves it.
2.) Bitter LeBron James haters.
3.) The Devils Advocates. The people who know James deserves the prize, but want to be the cool rebels who go against the grain.
There is no more telling indicator of the type of people who didn’t vote for James than Tim Potvak of Fanhouse. Potvak issued the following ridiculous statement on why he would not vote James as MVP at the end of the season:
“...It's why he just lost my vote for NBA Most Valuable Player. If he doesn't think it's important enough to play all 82 -- or at least try -- then he isn't good enough to be the MVP…”
Kudos, Mr. Potvak.
Fans everywhere wondered what logical justification someone would have to not vote James the league’s MVP. Thanks to your quote, they now see, there is none.