"THE VERY FACT OF THE MATTER IS"
(to paraphrase Scott Van Pelt paraphrasing Stephen A. Smith).
As I write, time is running out on the thesis of this article. A couple weeks ago, Stephen A. Smith on NBA Nation said that Allen Iverson would win the MVP award this year. Not the all-star game MVP award, the LEAGUE MVP award. While Stein and Bucher scoffed, half-stunned, half-“here we go again,” I am not so certain that Stephen A. Smith is terribly off-base.
So far, the most talked about MVP candidate is Steve Nash, for obvious reasons with regard to his importance to his team. Lebron and Duncan have been mentioned, as well as Shaq, who Pat Riley has correctly stated is MVP every year, while the “selected” MVP is really the “sentimental MVP." (While I for the most part don’t really like Shaq, I will say that if there has ever been a conspiracy, it is that Shaquille O’Neal does not win the award EVERY SINGLE YEAR—like, why all of a sudden did it become not cool to give Shaq the MVP award?).
Now, back to Nash, while he might even get my vote, the sports media will not let this happen, and let me tell you why. The NBA MVP award is one of the few things left in sports that stands for something. I apologize for monopolizing freedarko webspace, yet I demand that we all take a second to look at the following list.
1955-56 - Bob Pettit, St. Louis
1956-57 - Bob Cousy, Boston
1957-58 - Bill Russell, Boston
1958-59 - Bob Pettit, St. Louis
1959-60 - Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia
1960-61 - Bill Russell, Boston
1961-62 - Bill Russell, Boston
1962-63 - Bill Russell, Boston
1963-64 - Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati
1964-65 - Bill Russell, Boston
1965-66 - Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia
1966-67 - Wilt Chamberlain, Phildadelphia
1967-68 - Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia
1968-69 - Wes Unseld, Baltimore
1969-70 - Willis Reed, New York
1970-71 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee
1971-72 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee
1972-73 - Dave Cowens, Boston
1973-74 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee
1974-75 - Bob McAdoo, Buffalo
1975-76 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Los Angeles
1976-77 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Los Angeles
1977-78 - Bill Walton, Portland
1978-79 - Moses Malone, Houston
1979-80 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Los Angeles
1980-81 - Julius Erving, Philadelphia
1981-82 - Moses Malone, Houston
1982-83 - Moses Malone, Philadelphia
1983-84 - Larry Bird, Boston
1984-85 - Larry Bird, Boston
1985-86 - Larry Bird, Boston
1986-87 - Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
1987-88 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1988-89 - Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
1989-90 - Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
1990-91 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1991-92 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1992-93 - Charles Barkley, Phoenix
1993-94 - Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston
1994-95 - David Robinson, San Antonio
1995-96 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1996-97 - Karl Malone, Utah
1997-98 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1998-99 - Karl Malone, Utah
1999-00 - Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
2000-01 - Allen Iverson, Philadelphia
2001-02 - Tim Duncan, San Antonio
2002-03 - Tim Duncan, San Antonio
2003-04 – Kevin Garnett, Minnesota
Now, I ask you, do you see any Ken Caminitis, any Jose Cansecos, any Rich Gannons or Kurt Warners? No, you don’t. You see three words every season: Hall. Of. Fame. And what does this have to do with Steve Nash? Well, the fact that he is not a shoe-in hall-of-famer will prevent him from winning the award. The NBA simply won’t let this happen to their last symbol of all that is good and true. The question then emerges, who will win? And somewhat contradictory to my line of reasoning thus far, I believe the MVP race will follow quite similarly to the American League baseball race this past year. For those of you who might not remember popular discussion of last year's AL MVP, I will summarize it as follows: Manny or Sheffield. Sheffield or Manny. Papi? Santana? Mo Rivera? Sheff or Manny...VLAD!!!
In other words, it went to the guy who single-handedly catapulted his team into the playoffs over the season’s final weeks. Now, I ask you to walk with me through April. A broken down injury-plagued AI carries his team to 10 straight victories to end the season, clutching the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. An embattled Kevin Garnett spends the last two weeks putting up straight 30-20s, to will his way into that final spot. The sleepy-eyed McGrady stakes his claim in the new West, killin every Spur in sight and propelling the Rockets to win the Southwest Central division.
It’s wide open. Iverson, KG, T-Mac, and even Dirk or D-Wade have as good a chance as the frontrunners—IF they make it count down the stretch. It might not be fair to Steve Nash, but it’s the only way.