Earlier today, I was having an
argument debate with a LeBron James fan about Kobe Bryant. He said that because LeBron had three MVP awards and Bryant only had one, he was better than Kobe. My immediate response was that winning the MVP trophy was theoretically out of Kobe’s hands as the media were the ones who voted for the winner. It was not something that Kobe could go out and win on the court over a 48 minute game.
This got me thinking: how overrated is the regular season MVP award? It’s seen as a great accomplishment to win one, but why? Isn’t the ultimate prize the NBA Championship?
If you want to speak about individual awards, then why isn’t winning the Finals MVP award seen as a greater feat? To win that award, you were the greatest player in the post-season and were the main reason your team won a ring.
Yes, this award is once again voted on by the media, but it’s a smaller panel and the winner is almost always also an NBA Champion – the only time this wasn’t the case was in 1969 when the Lakers lost to the Celtics but Jerry West was awarded the MVP trophy.
Should Kobe Bryant have more regular season awards? Yes. That’s not even up for debate. He took a team – where Lamar Odom was the the second best player (by far) – to a 3-1 lead over the Phoenix Suns in 2006. Yes, they lost the series. But, they were a rebound away from advancing. That’s not the point.
The point is that season Kobe also dropped 62 points in three quarters to beat the Dallas Mavericks. Then he scored 81 in January versus the Toronto Raptors.
Also in January of that year, Kobe became the first player since 1964 to score 45 points or more in four consecutive games. The only other guys to do that? Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor.
Overall, he scored 35.4 points per game. His Lakers finished with an impressive 45–37 in a deep Western Conference.
And where did Kobe rank in the MVP voting? Fourth.
Are you going to tell me that Kobe wasn’t the Most Valuable Player that year? There’s no way you can say he wasn’t.
The point I’m making is that Finals MVP award and championships should be looked at as being the Mount Everest of accomplishments before regular season MVP awards even come into the equation. The only trophy that is truly won by a player or collection of players is the Larry O’Brien trophy.
It’s not awarded by “experts” or people who may have an agenda. It’s awarded by being the last team standing at the end of the NBA season; by ploughing through every squad that comes in your path and winning 16 games in the post-season.
Once it’s all said and done, people are going to say that Kobe only won one MVP award over his career. But so what? He did all he could do. He broke the records. The media screwed him over.
And at the end of the day, he’s going to have at least five championship rings and a couple of Finals MVP awards – if not more.
Charles Barkley won the MVP award in 1993. Karl Malone took it home in 1997 and 1999. But what do people always say when these two guys pop up in conversation? “They never won a ring.”
You tell me what’s more important.