NBA MVP Snubs of the Past 25 Years
M-V-P. Arguably the hardest idea to grasp and define in all of professional sports. Multiple attempts at the exact meaning of the award have been made, but we are yet to see a consensus.
Some say that the MVP is the player who is judged to be the most important to the game, or the best player in the league, or the one that means the most to his team. Some have even said that it is the player who encompasses all of these attributes.
Without an agreement on what the award truly represents, several players on multiple occasions over the past 25 years have been robbed of the prestigious accolade.
I'm here to make a case for those who have been snubbed.
For as much as I hate on LeBron, I have to pay him his dues on this one.
Last season, despite his highly publicized transition from the Cavaliers to the Heat, LeBron still kept up his MVP stat line.
He averaged 26.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and seven assists, yet he finished third in the MVP race. LeBron was better than Derrick Rose in nearly every single statistical category except assists, which he missed out on by .7. He was first in the league in PER with a 27.3 rating—Rose finished ninth in that category.
To complicate problems for Rose, he was nearly identical with Russell Westbrook in almost every statistic, yet Westbrook received no consideration for the award.
To sum it up, Rose was overhyped and LeBron was merely snubbed for his overly dramatic offseason antics.
Shaq was shafted on two different occasions during his illustrious career.
During the 2000-01 season, Shaq placed third in MVP voting. The Diesel led the Lakers to their second NBA Championship while recording 28.7 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.8 blocks a game. He was third in the league in both points per game and rebounds per game, and second in blocks per game. He also led the league in PER (Player Efficiency Rating) with a rating of over 30.
Allen Iverson won the award despite shooting a mere 42 percent from the field—15 percent less than Shaq. And, just for good measure, Iverson's Sixers lost to the Lakers in the Finals four games to one.
During the 2004-05 campaign, Shaq received the second most votes behind Steve Nash. He put up 22.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.3 blocks, while shooting 60 percent from the field. Superman finished second in the league with a PER of 27.
Nash managed to put up a measly 15.5 points and 11.5 assists, while not even finishing in the top 10 for PER.
Shaq's squad again won the NBA Championship, but he was again shafted on the award.
The Black Mamba is unarguably the second greatest shooting guard of all time, but unfortunately, he only has one MVP to show for it. Twice during Kobe's career, he has made a strong case for being the league's MVP, but has been denied of the privilege.
First, during his 2005-06 season, Kobe led the league in scoring, while posting a Jordan-esque stat line with 35.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists a game. He was placed on the NBA's All-Defensive first team in addition to the All-NBA first team, but only finished fourth in the MVP race.
Nash posted averages of 18.8 points and 10.5 assists—hardly MVP-worthy. He was also a defensive liability, not even receiving an All-Defensive third team selection, while Kobe repeatedly proved himself as a stalwart defender.
Isn't a complete player supposed to set the tone on both ends of the court?
To top it off, Bryant finish second in the league with a PER of 28, while Nash failed to even make the top 10.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot: The man scored 81 points...in a single game.
This was undoubtedly Kobe's greatest season as a Laker, yet he didn't have any hardware to show for it.
The second time Bryant was robbed was during the 2006-07 season when he finished third in MVP voting behind Dirk Nowitzki and Nash. Kobe recorded impressive numbers with 31.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists. He again led the league in scoring and was placed on the NBA All-Defensive first team. It seems as if Kobe was experiencing a slight case of deja vu though, as he again went unrewarded for his regular season exploits.
Nowitzki put up 24.6 points and 8.9 rebounds a game, and led his team to a first-round exit despite being the first-overall seed. Dirk, similar to Nash, didn't receive an All-Defensive team selection.
The panelists who vote on the MVP award must have forgotten about the other side of the ball. Granted, "D" only accounts for 50 percent of the game.
This number one ranking for MJ arouses quite a bit of irony—the fact that he has won the second most MVP awards and that he is arguably the greatest player of all-time—yet it is entirely justifiable. I think people just got so accustomed to seeing him dominate his era with such effortlessness that they seemed to forget just how consistently deserving he really was.
There are three different occasions in which I think Jordan had a strong argument for being the league's Most Valuable Player. To add even more irony, he lost to Magic Johnson on each occasion.
First, during the 1986-87 season, Jordan averaged a staggering 37.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists. He finished second in the league in steals with nearly three a game, led the league in scoring by a vast margin of eight points, and finished first in PER with a 29.8 rating. Michael averaged over 13 more points a game than Magic and averaged more steals and blocks.
I understand Magic's selection as the MVP given his team's success, but Jordan should have been given an extensive amount of consideration.
The second campaign took place during the 1988-89 season, and was unarguably deserving of an MVP award. Probably the greatest statistical season of Jordan's career—maybe of the last 35 years—went unrewarded.
He averaged a remarkable 32.5 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and nearly three steals a game. He was placed on the NBA's All-Defensive first team, as well as the All-NBA first team. He led the league in scoring and in PER (31.1).
MJ put up 10 more points a game, more rebounds, more steals and shot better from the field than Magic. His team's success—undoubtedly due to his own success—rivaled that of Magic's Lakers. The Bulls finished only two games behind the Lakers and barely lost to the Pistons—who swept the Lakers in the Finals—in game seven on the Eastern Conference Finals.
Michael's combination of statistics, accolades and success should have provided him with a strong enough argument for being the league's MVP.
The last situation where MJ was snuffed out of the Podoloff Trophy, was the 1989-90 season, when he finished third in MVP votes. He averaged 33.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 2.8 steals a game. This means that he again had more points, more rebounds, more steals and a better FG percentage than Magic. He had a league leading 31.2 PER, accompanied by his league-leading points and steals per game.
To further complement Jordan, his team won the NBA Championship. I understand that the trophy is decided on beforehand, but in hindsight—as if Michael's statistical dominance over Magic wasn't enough—his team outperformed Johnson's.
I think the biggest difference in Jordan and Magic's game, similar to Kobe and Nash/Nowitzki's case in the previous slide, is defensive prowess. Both Jordan and Bryant were defensive-minded players with an incredible knack for stopping opposing teams' offenses, and were recognized for it. Magic, Nash and Nowitzki, although phenomenal on the offensive end, never developed a staggering defensive game.
It's amazing to think that Jordan probably should have ended up with a conservative estimate of over seven MVP awards, especially when taking into account that he threw away over a season and a half of his prime.