Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The anti-MVP

Last season's MVP race was the fourth-closest vote in the history of the award (thank you very much, Dan Le Betard) and this season's vote figures to be even closer, with multiple candidates this year rather than the two-man race between Steve Nash and The Daddy a year ago. Nash, Bronny, KB8, D-Wade, Dirk, Mr. Big Shot, Melo...so many individual performances, you could make a case for a handful of ballers and you'd be hard pressed to find fault with it.

Of all those names, though, one of them leave us shaking our head: Kobe.

Now, don't get us wrong. Bean is far and away the best one-on-one player in the League. In fact, he routinely scores over double and triple teams. We're not sure there's a conceivable defense that can stop him; certainly no one-on-one defender stands a chance. He makes bad shots into good shots and good shots into lay ups. Plus, "specialists" aside, you aren't going to find a better perimeter defender. Seems like the complete package. And he dubbed himself "the black mamba," disregarding the rule that you cannot give yourself a nickname. The message: conventional rules don't apply to Bean.

But the MVP doesn't go to the best individual player; if that were the case, MJ would have won every year and Shaq every year since 23 retired. The ambiguity of "most valuable" is what makes the debate...well, a debate. How the hell do you define "most valuable"? The fact of the matter is, you can't.

But you can define "unvaluable," even if it's not a real word. MVP's are supposed to win games for their team, not lose them. And no other MVP candidate has cost his team more games than Kobe. He's cost the Lake Show game directly and indirectly this year. How? So glad you asked.

First, directly: When Kobe drilled Mike Miller with that elbow, the flagrant foul gave the Grizz a pair of FTs, which they converted. Guess how many the Lakers lost by? It was more than 1 and less than 3. Then, after the game, Kobe inflamed the situation, which contributed to his ensuing 2 game suspension. Brilliant, Kobe. The Lakers lost both games Kobe was suspended. So Kobe retaliates against Miller, "sending a message," in his words, and in the process cost his team 3 games, all of which they probably could have won if he was in the lineup.

Let's take this a step further. Say the Lakers win those three games, which they probably would have, considering they were against the Grizz and the Jazz. That gives them 47 W's through 81 games, with a chance of 48 if they beat the Hornets (34-47) tonight. Those 48 wins would be good enough for the 6 seed in the playoffs, better than the 7 seed they currently hold. Eh, what's one spot, right? Well, the 7 seed earns them the right to play the Suns without homecourt advantage. The 6 seed earns them the right to play Denver, and because the Lakers would have a better record than the Nugs, the Lakers would have home court advantage.

So not only did Kobe cost his team three games for "sending a message," he also likely cost them home court in the first round of the playoffs. Message sent, Bean.

Now, indirectly. And this is arguable, but he probably cost the Lakers multiple championships. Depending on who you believe, Kobe at worst single handedly destroyed the Laker dynasty by running Shaq out of town or at best had such a destructive attitude management decided that was the best way to go. Either way, he was at least 50% responsible for separating the 2 most unstoppable players in basketball.

Kobe was so gung ho on proving he could be successful on his own, he contributed to getting Shaq ran out of Tinseltown. So why should he be rewarded for orchestrating a situation in which he could be successful as an individual at the expense of the team? Why should he be rewarded for sneaking a team into the 7 spot in the playoffs when they should be winning their 5th title? That doesn't sound very valuable, regardless of the definition. A true MVP would have found a way to make that situation work. No one was a bigger dick behind the curtain than Jordan, but nothing like this ever happened to him. Wonder why.

(Disclaimer: Yes, Shaq wasn't perfect. But Kobe apologized to Shaq this year, not vice versa. You only apologize if you did something wrong. Just something to think about.)

So is Kobe the most feared player in basketball? Yes. Was his 81 point outburst the defining individual performance of the season? Yes. A sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer? Yes. But the MVP? Not this year.

Sorry, Bean.

1 comments so far. Might as well add your own.:

xKoBeLaKid said...

you can only be right if you're 100% you're sure that you're wrong....or something....