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Why Derrick Rose Will (Not Should) Win MVP Over Lebron James

March 30, 2011


Those ain't Championships, guys. (Photo Credit:

Chicago's Hometown Hero. (Photo Credit:

As the regular season slowly comes to an end, the MVP talk has been even more rampant. With most signs pointing to Derrick Rose as the likely recipient of the award, there is little doubt that he will win it. Sure there have been tons of detractors like Dan Le Batard who will try and convince you that he shouldn’t win it. Heck, Bulls by the Horns has a whole list of them in his recent post here.

I’ll even admit that I’m a little wary of crowning our humbled star the most valuable in the league this season. But a lot of my cautiousness has more to do with the fact that there the league has no clear cut criteria for what makes someone MVP. Sure one can notice patterns and trends in past MVP winners that might make one candidate more likely than another but the way to determine the winner is still extremely subjective.

As I was skimming twitter a few days ago, I came across a great piece at Hardwood Hype that dissects the MVP race. The blog post discusses why Lebron James’ questionable relocation tactics and way premature championship parade before the season started seriously affected his chances of receiving the award and why Derrick Rose will (not ‘should’) win it this year:

The reality of the situation is that the MVP voting typically shakes out in favor of the best (usually offensive) player on a top-5 team, preferably one that’s exceeded expectations, and (most importantly, given the voting process) captured the mainstream media’s collective heart. Given this, Derrick Rose, the feel-good breakout star of this season fits the bill.

And I kind of have to agree with his argument. Rose and the Bulls‘ ascendancy to the top of the Eastern Conference after barely clawing to .500 last season is a great Cinderella story for the NBA. He and the team far exceeded expectations anyone had for them at the beginning of the season and Rose has shown us time and time again that he’s ready and capable to lead this team.

The players love and respect one another, play unselfish ball on the court and are really representative of being a team. Add to the fact that Rose displays a true love for and devotion to the game by working on improving his skill set all the freakin’ time, is super modest and likeable and a willing learner and Rose/the Bulls are the complete antithesis to this year’s Miami Heat.

Many- at least those that choose to cast their votes elsewhere- will contend that LeBron is unworthy of the honor because of a) the “Heat Effect,” or the idea that no amount of on-court brilliance can trump dramatically upgrading his two best teammates, and/or b) the Heat’s “underachievement”- the fact that they will probably finish with 57 or 58 wins, and not the 73 that we’d been promised, and sit just two-and-a-half games behind Rose’s Bulls.

And while there’s little doubt that an improved (at the top, at least) supporting cast and outsized expectations have conspired against LeBron’s candidacy, the real reason he will be passed over is that eight months ago- less because of “The Decision” and more because of the premature championship parade, at which he rang the opening bell on what he predicted will be the greatest run of NBA dominance in more than four decades- he pissed a lot of self-important people off. These wounds have been slow to heal, and unfortunately, the misguided feeling remains that LeBron James needs to be punished for the sins of last summer.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Lebron James is a transcendent talent. He is one of the most unique and gifted players of his generation. But given that 1) he’s won the MVP last two years and voters don’t seem to want to give it to the same guy more than twice no matter how much he deserves it (see: Michael Jordan) 2) he has another future hall-of-famer on his team (no, I’m not talking about Chris Bosh) but his team is looking like they might not even hit 60 wins this season 3) ‘The Decision’ and 4) the ill-conceived pre-season championship parade, all of these things are working against him.

Something to consider that Jocelyn mentioned to me were Steve Nash’s two MVP’s. “People want to like the MVP they vote for,” she said. And let’s be honest, have you ever met someone who said they didn’t like Steve Nash? He’s a nice guy but also all about devoting himself to the game. His primary focus isn’t about building his ‘brand’ but how to become a better player. Regardless, even to this day, there are still fans who question whether or not Nash really deserved to win those two seasons. But those fans need to realize that Nash won based on ideals that were important to voters at that time.

Leadership of the savvy point guard is a romantic ideal — an irresistible story that seems to reinforce all the notions we hold dear about basketball played “the right way” — and Nash was the flesh-and-blood avatar of those beliefs. There was, too, almost certainly a kind of corrective, throwback appeal in the Nash votes. He seemed like the antidote to a game some folks thought had become too individualized, too ego-driven; a vote for Nash was a vote for something once thought lost.

(via Eric Neel at ESPN)

This narrative sounds pretty familiar, does it not? Almost like they could be talking about a certain starting point guard for the Chicago Bulls….

So while Rose may not be the best player in the NBA in terms of statistics or ‘worthy’ in certain eyes, the media is looking to coronate a player who is the complete opposite of James, a romanticized version of what some believe an MVP should be. They found exactly what they were looking for in Derrick Rose and this is why he will win the MVP award of the 2010-2011 season.



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