At the start of the season, the consensus view of every basketball journalist on the planet was that the race for the MVP would be duked out by ‘The King’ and ‘The Mamba’. For the most part, this view has not changed, reinforced by the fact that Kobe is still Kobe and Lebron is certainly, and unmistakably, still Lebron.
However, as Run DMC said, it’s tricky. How do you evaluate the winner of an award when nobody really agrees what the award stands for? Should it be given to the best player on the best team? If so, I’m backing Kobe and the Lake Show to get the nod. Regardless of the fact that the Cavaliers lead Los Angeles by 1, the Lakers are still the best team in the League: if Kobe has an off night he has the Spanish Stallion, Pau! Gasol to pick up the slack. Or Lamar Odom. Or Andrew Bynum (come playoff time). Or the Bench Mob. Or Adam Morrison. Ok, maybe not, but you get the idea. The fact is that if you take Kobe off the team, the Lakers still make the playoffs. Comfortably. Take the best player off the Cavs roster? They go to lottery land with a one way ticket to mediocrity.
This leads to the other point of view for the race to the MVP: the player most integral to their team’s success. If this was the only selection criteria, Lebron would have got the award from day one of the season. I mean, there is no way you can argue that. You could put LBJ on the Sacramento roster and they make the playoffs. As contenders. The Kings! Come on! There is only one other who could do that, and he wears 24.
It is for this reason that Dwayne Wade will not win MVP this year. He could average 50, 10, 10, for the rest of the season and he still wouldn’t win. He’d get votes, but he wouldn’t win. If things stay as they are in the playoff race, do Miami get past Atlanta in round 1? Maybe. Do they progress to the conference finals? Doubtful. There is no one more exciting to watch than Flash. His game winner against Chicago was obscene. His play as of the Olympics has been otherworldly. But, he is not Lebron.
So who is the MVP? LBJ.