Kevin Love, NBA MVP Award: Redefining the Word Valuable

Sri RamanContributor IMarch 11, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 05:  Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves against the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center on March 5, 2011 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images


It’s not the most creative of chants, but it effectively conveys the message. At various points throughout the course of a game, fans double as boisterous advocates. In essence, they become spirited lobbyists for the one they deem more valuable to his team than any other in the league.    


Derrick Rose has heard the unisonous chant at the United Center as he approaches the free throw line.  

Amar’e Stoudemire has been showered with this praise from New York Knicks fans as well.  

Lebron James—despite his PR demotion to league pariah—has at least enjoyed the MVP love from Miami Heat fans.

Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant have also heard it from the paying customers.

Aside from these marquee names, a most unexpected—and perhaps less glamorous—talent has emerged as a legitimate candidate for the NBA’s most prestigious individual award.  

Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves has enjoyed a truly exceptional season. Not only is Love leading the league in rebounds—15.8 per game—he is also averaging 20.9 ppg.

Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers, Love posted his 52nd consecutive double-double, breaking Moses Malone’s post-merger record. (Multiple sources indicate Wilt Chamberlain has the all-time record for consecutive double-doubles, numbering in the 200s.)

Accordingly, the Target Center faithful have also showed their reverence:


However to many ears, when this emanates from the devotees of Rose, Stoudemire, Lebron, Kobe and Durant, it’s a chorus...but when this emanates from Love supporters, it’s a cacophony.  

An incredulous Chris McKendry of ESPN asks how someone on a 15-win team can be given an MVP.

Kurt Hellin of acknowledges Love’s impressive stat lines but adds, “it’s questionable how meaningful it is.”

It's the seemingly age-old argument: how is a player valuable to a team when the team is bad?
McKendry, Hellin and others dismiss Love’s candidacy for MVP due to Minnesota’s success, or lack thereof.  

Let me acknowledge that this a plausible argument if the word “value” is taken at face value. However, that method of judgment is flawed.  Given the magnitude of his accomplishments, I find it unreasonable to ignore Love simply because of semantics.  

So I have a very simple request for the NBA and all major sports.  

Change the MVP award to “Player of the Year.”  

The parsing of the acronym and the debate over the true meaning of “valuable” would hopefully cease.  And an award for individual accomplishments will be given for...individual accomplishments.  

At least baseball has recognized this on a couple of occasions—Andre Dawson and Alex Rodriguez were MLB MVP's for last place teams. But still, the typical arguments regarding "value" surface during an MLB season countless times.  

The NFL’s list of MVP's and NHL’s Hart Memorial Trophies are largely uncontroversial as the recipients have by-and-large been on playoff teams. 

Would Kevin Love be an ultimate favorite to win a hypothetical “Player of the Year” award? Not necessarily, those in the running for this season’s MVP would all be legitimate candidates.

But the point is Love—a player whose double-double exploits have placed him in the select company of Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Walt Bellamy, Wilt Chamberlain, Elvin Hayes, Jerry Lucas and Bill Russell—couldn’t be tossed aside under the new assumed guidelines.  

And that's reason enough that changing the name of the award would be...most valuable.