Official NBA MVP voters, of which I have been one for many years, are suckers for a good story.
That’s only natural, because many of us writers and broadcasters are all about telling a good story.
And a familiar plot line is developing with the Clippers, one of the feel-good stories of the season already because of their emergence (finally) as an upper-echelon team.
Chris Paul hasn’t been playing, and the Clippers are finally struggling…so doesn’t that just go to show how valuable Paul is?
Let’s be clear that there’s no way anyone at this point could possibly justify voting for anyone but LeBron James or Kevin Durant. To be specific, James should be the clear choice because of his far superior effort and execution on defense—but at least Durant is in the ballpark.
The “valuable” part is part of it but so is the “player” part of it. It’s a shame that voters have a tendency to forget that.
That’s because they get too caught up in the story…
Underdog team rises up behind the leadership of feisty Chris Paul!
Point guards and their passes always unify teams the way team-first Chris Paul does!
State Farm Insurance does funny commercials with NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, and those Chris Paul/Cliff Paul State Farm Insurance commercials are killer, too!
There’s no doubt that Paul is the leader of the Clippers and one of the rare players in the league who can drive a team’s will just by letting teammates feed off individual will. Kobe Bryant said last season that only Paul and Chicago’s Derrick Rose are in his class as far as fighting dogs: Bryant won the 2008 MVP and Rose the 2011 MVP.
Rose’s victory was a landslide over Dwight Howard, James and Bryant because none of those three had truly compelling seasons—and because Rose was the good story. He didn’t get a single MVP vote in 2010, yet overnight he became by far the league’s most valuable guy because the Bulls’ fortunes changed under new coach Tom Thibodeau.
Who do you think was a better story to sell that success: the flashy, thrill-a-minute Rose on the court, or the studious, hard-working Thibodeau behind the scenes?
It always helps when the player is smaller, too, because the fans fall for the underdog. Paul fits that category—which certainly helped Steve Nash win his two MVP trophies, including the one in 2006 that should’ve gone to Bryant for one of the truly historic individual seasons the NBA has ever seen.
The Heat face the Clippers on Friday (Feb. 8), and it’s possible Paul will be back in the lineup after missing 12 of the previous 14 games because of a bruised right knee. A victory with Paul suddenly back after a nine-game layoff over James and the defending champion Heat, would really further this MVP narrative for CP3. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen for the sake of the ongoing integrity of the vote.
Objectively speaking, players who miss games because of injury should be penalized for contributing less to their teams than the guys who fight through and survive without missing games. James has played all 46 Heat games this season, even with all the extra abuse he absorbs. He has even played 5:20 more per game than Paul.
Oh, and if you want to ask who is really better, not only is James 10 points per game better in the glamour stat, he is across-the-board better by the numbers. He even makes more three-pointers per game than Paul this season—with Paul having a slight edge in assists and a substantial one in his expert area of steals.
Yes, Blake Griffin doesn’t really know how to win or even create his own shot, and Vinny Del Negro is hardly a master strategist. But the Clippers have been so good this season because of Paul and a lot of other reasons, including tremendous depth and role-player execution.
Let’s not get carried away by the idea that their recent cold streak without Paul proves anything except that he is indeed valuable—even with the presence of highly productive backup Eric Bledsoe.
There’s no doubting he’s the leader of a team that is writing a good story.
There’s no case for CP3 being MVP.
Kevin Ding has been a sportswriter covering the NBA and Los Angeles Lakers for OCRegister.com since 1999. His column on Kobe Bryant and LeBron James was judged the No. 1 column of 2011 by the Pro Basketball Writers Association. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
Follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinDing.