Carmelo Anthony's secret admirer has come forward.
One first-place vote separated LeBron James from being the first unanimous MVP in NBA history. That first-place vote was given to 'Melo instead, and it came from Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (subscription required):
When I placed my NBA MVP vote a few weeks ago, I knew I would be in the minority. I knew LeBron James was the prohibitive favorite to win his fourth award because he unquestionably is the best player in the game.
I voted for Carmelo Anthony based on his importance to the New York Knicks, who, if you haven’t been paying attention the past decade, have failed to be relevant.
Lecture or admonish Washburn, if you feel the need to, but his lone vote for 'Melo proves how flawed this entire process is.
The NBA provides no guidelines or parameters for selecting the league MVP, leaving the voters to make sense of it however they see fit. Washburn saw it fit to vote for Anthony and then he came forward, attempting to justify it.
James deserved the MVP award; he really did. He had a historical season and showed that the greatest player in the world could actually get better.
And so he got the award, almost unanimously. "Almost," however, wasn't enough; we had to know who the lone 'Melo voter was and now we do.
Can we hate Washburn for his decision?
We can, and some will. He ripped another piece of history right out from under James, which is despicable on so many levels.
But it's also enlightening.
Washburn stood by his decision in the article. Knowing he was bound to face the wrath of the masses, he could have apologized, but he didn't. Instead, he defended himself. He explained that this wasn't the "Best Player in the Game" award and that 'Melo was more valuable to the Knicks than James was to the Miami Heat.
Few will consider this a legitimate excuse, but Washburn has a point. There is no dichotomy between the best player and the most valuable player in the game. The way it's set up now, recognition can only be shown for one or the other; otherwise, we're to assume the MVP must be considered both.
You don't have to agree, mostly because there's nothing to agree on. We're all free—Washburn included—to delineate the league MVP in our own way. That's the real issue. Just like it was in 2000, when Shaquille O'Neal also finished one vote shy of a unanimous MVP decision.
Is 'Melo more valuable to his team than James is to his? I'm not going to answer that, because that's not the question that needs to be posed.
Instead, the question is this: Is it time to rethink the MVP award and how the recipient is determined? Something about these proceedings needs to change so that conflicts like this don't arise.
Or perhaps nothing needs to change. Maybe no separate award or additional clarification is necessary. These debates might just be what this is supposed to be all about. Again, we just don't know.
"So my vote had more to do with Anthony and less to do with the dominance of LeBron," Washburn writes.
Just as our problem with his vote has more to do with the lack of context behind the selection process than it does with the actual vote itself.