by user Wtt02005

The crowning of the next championship team is nearing simultaneously with the crowning of the season Most Valuable Player. About eight players are in the running for the award, and I will not be the first to say that they all deserve it. The media clearly has a tough decision ahead of them, but what exactly is the criteria they will base their decision on? In years past, the award was the domain of dominant centers and power-forwards. It was not until last year that point guard Steve Nash surpassed Shaquille O’Neal to win the award.

Nash changed the MVP award, and with so many deserving candidates, it might change once again. My top four for the award are Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, Steve Nash, and Kobe Bryant. How does the award change based on the recipient?

If Dwayne Wade wins the award, there is life for superstars on talented teams. A few years back during Sacramento’s golden run, there were rumors that Chris Webber would win the MVP award. Those rumors never came to fruition as the Kings were a very talented team. Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic deserved consideration as much as Chris Webber. I feel that Wade is in a similar situation. Though many claim he is carrying the team, he is still living in the shadow of Shaquille O’Neal. One must remember that the Heat was just a .500 team when Shaq was injured, and things did not get better until his return. However, Wade still have surprisingly amazingly numbers, and the team would definitely struggle without him. Last Call: I feel that Wade is only receiving consideration because he has found a way to produce sensational numbers in a Shaq-focused offense. Shaq would not like me to say this, but Kobe never received consideration with Shaq, so Wade will not receive any either.

If Kobe Bryant wins the award, then the word “successful” becomes as unclear as “valuable.” The MVP usually comes from a successful team, and I do believe the Lakers are successful this season. They are the seventh seed, and this is a vast improvement over last year when they missed the playoffs. One can talk about the return of Phil Jackson and the reinstatement of order, but the reason is clearly Kobe Bryant and his 35 point average. Unfortunately, the Lakers are not as successful as people want them to be; franchise-wise, the Lakers were never a .500 team. They have much bigger expectations, and this will be taken into account. As for just Kobe, can you really look over the 50-80 point explosions? Bryant has transcended being an all-star to one of the greatest players of all time. I think he has to be one of the top three candidates for the award. Last Call: Kobe should receive consideration despite the Lakers not being as successful as people want. If the Lakers were a 50-60 win team, then they would have other quality players on the roster deserving of the award. However, they only have one in Kobe Bryant.

If Lebron James wins the award, then literally carrying the team is a main factor for the award. Lebron has produced a tremendous season and has done this all by himself. Zydrunas Ilgauskas was inconsistent and did not make the NBA All-Star Game roster while Larry Hughes missed practically the entire second half of the season with a finger injury. The team revolves around these three players because the rest of their roster includes inconsistent shooters like Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall. Lebron James has literally shown to be most valuable because the very untalented Cavaliers would definitely be under .400 without him. Last Call: The third candidate for the award behind Nash and Kobe. A factor Lebron has against him is that he plays in the uncompetitive East (relative to the West) where he could have lost ten more games and still have been in the playoff hunt. In addition, some of the team’s success has to be credited to Drew Gooden’s consistent numbers every night. He may not have won games, but with Ilgauskas not doing his job in the paint, the Cavaliers would be much worse without him.

If Steve Nash wins the award, then making your teammates better is perhaps the most important factor in determining the MVP. Once again, Nash has led his team to a winning record while leading the league in assists. In doing so, he has helped the play of his teammates, especially potential Most Improved Player Boris Diaw. He is known for giving players career years which appears to be what gave him the award last year. Last Call: I think Nash giving players career years is an exaggeration. Just because his teammates score more, does that mean they are having career years? Probably not. However, I do think Nash gives his teammates confidence which makes them better.

Look for Nash to repeat considering making his teammates better is the only thing that distinguishes him from the other candidates. Kobe’s assists are down (and leading his team to the playoffs apparently is not helping his team), Shaq is helping his team more than Wade, and Lebron took control realizing he will not have any support from Hughes and Ilgauskas. Nash helps his teammates; the others just make them look good.

Regardless of who wins, the award is clearly vague as it is not known which of the four main criteria (being the best player, carrying the team, making your teammates better, or being on a successful team) is most important, whether there is a hierarchy, and whether all must be prevalent within the recipient to win the honor of Most Valuable Player.


Thu 04/27/06, 9:39 pm EST

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