Players and Coaches Should Decide the MVP

Nate SmithCorrespondent IMarch 6, 2008

Every year a new MVP debate emerges. Who should be MVP?

This year the debate is particularly intense.

You have fans passionately supporting players like Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Kevin Garnett.

Lebron fans say look at statistical dominance. Kobe fans counter that the game is played on both ends and that 43-18 in the West is WAY better than 35-27 in the East.

Chris Paul fans note that CP3 has the highest PER of a point guard...ever. And KG backers express their amazement at how one man's defensive tenacity can turn the worst team in the league into the best.

But none of these fans have a vote. They can only express their opinion. They only hope that the strength of their arguments persuade the media members who vote on the award every year.

Perhaps fans should be allowed to vote for MVP.  Surely, after intense debate on messageboards and in barber shops and sports bars, the voting public will elect the best candidate for MVP!

Or not.

If fans could vote, Kobe Bryant would have received his first MVP award at age 18 and he and Lebron James would receive every MVP award until they retire depending on how the voting went that year.

Not such a bad thing for Bron Bron and Kobe fans, but not so great for the legitimacy of the award.

Still, these media members who vote on MVP don't seem to have any consistent idea of what makes an MVP. Some journalists will give it to the player with the highest PER regardless of context (a prominent media member admitted this week that his choice for MVP in 2005 was Kevin Garnett even though he didn't make the playoffs).

Some journalists see the MVP as analogous to the "Most Outstanding Player." Some journalists think that the MVP is the best player on the best team. Many speculate how well or poorly a team would perform without their star. And some journalists blend all of these concepts together. 

The result is that it is hard to get a clear picture of what makes a true MVP.

The non-existant qualifications allow media members to mask their bias and prejudices in the guise of some objective reason for selecting a player. Instead of getting a MVP of the NBA, we simply get the winner of the tournament of journalists.

It is more political than objective. Sure with the media voting rather than fans, players other than Kobe and Lebron will be able to win at least some of the time, but the result will be no less arbitrary.

A never ending drama of who got snubbed consumes fans. The player who does win is not accorded with the respect, even if begrudingly, that a MVP deserves in sports.

The NBA MVP is an after-thought and every year the suspicions that back-door politics and bias decided the winner are reinforced.

The NBA MVP award is losing its prominence and members of the media are the one's to blame. 

A new method of selecting a MVP is in order.

Instead of the media voting, NBA players and coaches should select the MVP of the league.

One objective metric of merit is the respect of your peers. NBA players are a tough bunch and are brutally honest.

They'll vote for who is the most dominant or best player is in their eyes. That, my friends, is a true measure of who the best player in the league is. 

Fans can argue all day and analysts can number crunch, but the players will tell you with 100% accuracy who the best is. They have to face that guy. They know how difficult he is to stop. They know what kind of intensity he brings to the table. They know whether he brings it on both ends and they know to take into account the important intangibles that cannot be numerically quantified.

This same argument applies to coaches. Media members often don't watch many games.  They are assigned to a team or a region and only have the chance to watch a few games outside of their assignment.

A coach understands the nuances of every team. They understand how effective a player is without their star. They understand what player will make their adjustments futile.

They know which players make them waste timeouts and cause them to risk being fired. Coaches, like players, understand the history of the game and respect the award. They will provide a more objective view of NBA MVP.

Additionally, respect among a player's peers by being named NBA MVP would not only be an award for a NBA player, but an honor.  The NBA MVP will start to receive the respect that the title deserves - because fans would know that despite their personal feelings, the title would have been earned.

So let the debate continue: Kobe, Lebron, Paul or Garnett. But that's all it should be, a debate.

Let the players and coaches settle who is the MVP. After all, they are the ones actually settling it on the court.







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