The throne of the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) still belongs to the King.
LeBron James won his second straight MVP award after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA’s best record, 61-21, while averaging 29.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.6 assists in 76 games played this season.
James becomes the 10th player in NBA history to earn MVP honors two years in a row. The others are Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (twice), Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.
Not bad company for the 25-year old superstar who’s looking to capture his first NBA championship this season. James winning the MVP award this year doesn’t surprise me, and shouldn’t surprise you either. But it’s certainly disappointing because this time, the voters got this one wrong.
James is the most dominant player the league has ever seen, and his ability to get to the basket at ease is almost divine like. He’s persistently criticized for involving his teammates, and for passing on the final shot, but has the capability of scoring every time he desires.
All of that sounds great, but that doesn’t mean the NBA should’ve awarded the MVP to James. If there was a year the NBA could’ve gotten the voting correct by awarding the trophy to the player who deserved it the most instead of the player who’s the leagues best, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder should have been named the 2009-2010 league’s MVP.
I would’ve voted for Durant, and the voters should’ve too. But the NBA felt they needed to please the “‘King”, and the face of the league. Durant isn’t the most endorsable athlete, the most marketable athlete, and future NBA hopefuls aren’t dreaming of being the next KD (Kevin Durant if you couldn’t figure it out).
But for once, it would’ve been satisfying to see the league award the trophy to the player most deserving, and not to the player who’s a walking triple-double every night, and can win the award every year. If the NBA is going to ignore the player’s who are most deserving of the award, but instead, hand James the MVP honors every year, that is unfair.
Because while we’ll always watch in amazement and appreciate what James has done since coming into the NBA seven years ago, what Durant accomplished this season was more impressive than what James did in Cleveland.
Durant became the NBA’s youngest scoring champion in NBA history by averaging 30.1 points per game, on his way to beating James for the scoring title. Durant set the modern record for most games in a row (29) with at least 25 points, passing Allen Iverson ’s 2000-01 streak of 27 straight 25-point-plus performances, but fell short of Michael Jordan ’s all-time record of 40 consecutive games, a mark set during the 1986-87 season. He had two separate streaks of consecutive games (7) scoring 30 or more points, and also scored 30-plus points, forty-eight times this season, while James only scored 30-plus points thirty-eight times.
But most important, Durant took the Thunder, who weren’t expected to compete for a playoff berth, and led by Durant, finished the regular season with 50 wins and earned the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The 27-game improvement from the previous year was the sixth biggest turnaround in NBA history.
Durant took a team that won 23 regular season games last year, and turned them into a playoff contender, and it’s a shame he wasn’t rewarded for his accomplishments.
Of course James is the better player than Durant. Of course James is more exciting to watch than Durant, and even though I’d still rather Kobe Bryant taking the final shot, James is best player in the league. But just because he’s the best, doesn’t mean he’s the player most valuable to his team, and this year, he certainly wasn’t.
Durant re-energized the Thunder franchise, taking them from the cellar as one of the NBA’s worse teams, to a permanent fixture in the Western Conference playoff race, on his way to becoming the most prolific scorer in the NBA this season.
James can win the MVP award every season, because his numbers will always be better than every other player in the league, because of the dominant player he is. His stat line is always going to be more impressive, and his highlight reel will always be worthy of an Oscar nomination.
The MVP award shouldn’t be limited to points, rebounds, assists, or what the stat sheet indicates at the end of every game. The MVP award shouldn’t be limited to the players that are only on championship contending teams. But wouldn’t it be great, if the MVP was actually given to the player who’s most valuable to his team, and to the player who allowed his team reach a new level en route to having a successful season.
Kevin Durant should’ve won the MVP award, but he didn’t and he may never.
Because it sure seems the NBA will be awarding James with the MVP honors every year, and that just isn’t right. Especially, after the type of season Durant just had.