The Round Stones Beneath the Earth
By all accounts, Steve Nash is yet again the MVP frontrunner. Nobody else seems to have a problem with this, but if Nash hoists the Maurice Podoloff Trophy (henceforth known as Mo-Pod) at season’s end, your man Brickowski is liable to lose it. I’m not even sure Nash is the most valuable Sun. Shawn Marion leads Phoenix in points, rebounds, blocks, steals and minutes played. Read that last sentence again. He’s in the top 16 in the League in those categories as well as field goal percentage. I’m assuming that means he’s the only player in the league to be in the top 20 in 6 different categories, but I’ll leave it up to you nerds to tell me if I’m wrong. I need to go watch the Sopranos.
Yet, no matter what Marion does, Nash seems to get all of the credit. The popular line of thinking is that Nash is the masterful conductor, constantly pushing the break and getting his teammates easy points. I understand that he’s the engine behind the Suns profligate offense, and I fully admit that he gets Shawn a couple of dunks a night, but judging by the way everyone speaks of the Suns you almost start to think that he’s also responsible for Marion’s boards, swipes and swats. Nash is unquestionably the best passer this side of J. Kidd, but I dare you to find me a better finisher than the Matrix. His freakish leaping ability provided him with a nickname, but don’t ignore the wide receiver hands that allow him to snare damn near everything, or the soft touch that he uses on that odd occasion when he’s incapable of hammering it home. Last I heard an alleyhoop required more than one individual.
Further, anybody who has watched the Suns this season knows that the little Canadian isn’t the only Sun racking up assists by lobbing the ball in the general vicinity of Marion. Turn on NBATV Daily on any given night and you’re likely to see at least one clip of Boris Diaw lobbing to Marion from the high post. Young Diaw is averaging four more assists than his career average, yet I’ve never once heard anyone extol Marion for his ability to get his teammates “easy assists.” But Nash probably deserves the credit for Boris’ passing too, right? He puts Diaw in position to assist Marion, or maybe it’s just because “passing is contagious.”
When was it decided that passing is more important than finishing? It wasn’t always this way. Stockton is the game’s all-time assists leader, but he never got credit for all the shit Mailman did when Malone was winning MVPs. And why wasn’t Kidd hauling in MVP trophies when his arrival in New Jeruz suddenly had the Nets playing in consecutive NBA Finals? If you still doubt my claim that there’s been a sea change over the last few years in the way passing points are valued, please recall that Luke Fucking Ridnour received an Olympic invite and Allen Iverson did not. What could have caused such a seismic shift in the basketball landscape? I’m going to follow Larry Brown’s lead and blame the whole thing on Marbury.
Marbury’s return to NY, you’ll recall, paved the way for Nash’s resurrection of Phoenix. More significant, however, was the shoot-first game Marbury practiced while he was a Sun. Despite the presence of both Marion and Amare (AKA THE TWO BEST FINISHERS IN BASKETBALL) Stephon insisted on dominating the ball, charging the paint with the rock tucked-away like a fullback, and then throwing up tear drops. Marbury, along with post-Jordan contemporaries Iverson and Francis, pushed the limits of the point guard position so far that he spawned a league wide backlash among the purist set.
The problem with writing these types of articles is that you inevitably have to offer a viable alternative. The truth is I really don’t care who wins the award as long as it’s not Nash. By now I’m sure that you have seen the list of players who have won multiple MVP awards. It’s a restricted club and Karl Malone is the only member who lacks a championship ring. But the list of players who have hoisted the Mo-Pod in consecutive seasons is even more exclusive, and reads like a catalog of the sport’s patron saints: Russell, Chamberlain, Kareem, Moses, Larry, Magic, Michael and Duncan (see how I did that?). You must have a bare minimum of two titles under your belt to be considered for this territory. Nash hasn’t even played in the Finals!
But since any hacky MVP article requires a candidate and an argument for that candidate, here’s mine: Dirk. He’s led his team to a better record than the Suns and isn’t nearly the defensive liability that Nash is. As far as supporting casts go, I’ll take Marion and Diaw over Terry and Howard any day of the week. Don’t get it twisted: this is no Free Dirko campaign. I would be thrilled if Lebron won the award, but he’ll have an armful of them by the time he’s done. The MVP is something that should be shared among the sport's greatest players. Barkley, Hakeem, Robinson, Iverson and Garnett have all taken their turn before handing it over to another deserving candidate the following season. Nash belongs in the same company as these guys. He just doesn't deserve to be in the other group.
Unrelated note #1: This has been on the internets for a minute, but I’m posting it here anyways, if only because it’s nice to find that someone has an even more psychotic relationship with the Association than FreeDarko. I give you the work of Thumboy. This Aussie has spent a great deal of time photoshopping half of the Lig into family portraits in the style of sick-fuck Richard D. James. In addition to T-Mac the artist has also captured many a FreeDarko fave, including Ha Seung Jin, AK, Krstic, ZAZA, J-Smoove, JR Smith, and Darko himself.
Unrelated note #2: Over the weekend FreeDarko gave birth to a myspace site. Like Wes Wesley, I go to great lengths to keep my name off the internets, and personally don’t get the myspace craze. But we’ve heard that it’s a good way to get famous and find casual sexual encounters, so we figured we might as well give it a try. Plus, Andrew Bynum had a MySpace page and now he’s in the NBA. You never know. So if you want to be our friend, or if you just want to listen to some Big L, hit us up at: http://myspace.com/freedarko