Why LeBron James Should Not Be MVP
In the 1961-62 NBA season, Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points, 2.4 assists and 25.7 total rebounds per game. He did not win MVP that season. That honor went to Bill Russell who had averages of 18.9 points, 23.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Statistically, Chamberlain is clearly the superior player. It’s not even close. And maybe Wilt Chamberlain was the best player in the NBA in the 1961-62 season, but that does not make him the most valuable.
The past two decades have only produced a few NBA talents that fans and sports media unanimously agreed were the best players of their given moment: 1990-93, 96-98 Jordan; 2000-2002 Shaq, and 2005-2008 Kobe. The best talent of the 2010-2012 seasons, by far, is Lebron James, but his insistence on calling himself “king” after “The Decision” has caused many of the court to dismiss any spectacular performance by his majesty as deficient. I am not one of those people but there’s no way LeBron James should be MVP during his tenure with the Miami Heat.
The “value” of a player is determined on the strength of a team’s roster. Some seasons, the player playing the best for that season is the “most valuable” like the 2000-2001 MVP, Allen Iverson. No one could guard him at the time and I do not believe any other player of that season could have taken a starting lineup of Eric Snow, George Lynch, Tyrone Hill and Matt Geiger to the NBA Finals. That’s the only team with an MVP that without a doubt becomes a lottery team without that high caliber player. There’s not even one other team on the list of NBA MVPs that would bottom out completely without that player.
All of the teams are talented and were championship contenders in the season(s) a player was awarded the MVP. This is evidence that the case for MVP is not only about a player’s subjective value to a specific team. So how do voters normally pick the MVP? By voting for the player who has made the biggest impact for the given season.
Derrick Rose won MVP last year because he made the biggest, most surprising impact in the league, not because he was the best player. I love Derrick Rose’s game as much as anyone who spent their adolescent years in Chicago, but it would take one hell of an argument to convince me to take Derrick Rose over Lebron James to start an NBA franchise. There’s nothing James is not capable of doing on a basketball court, period. He can score on everybody, rebound, make any pass, defend every position at a high level – truly, it’s astounding and not something you can say about any other player who has ever played in the NBA. So why would I say James should never be MVP while playing for the Heat? Two reasons:
1) Impossible to have the biggest impact for a season: James can never make the biggest impact for a season because he’s with the Miami Heat and they will always be a top two seed in the East. Unless Wade and Bosh have lasting injuries, that’s an inevitable fact. Nothing the Heat do as a team is surprising or difficult. It’s expected, so impact is minimal. If it were just given out to the best player each season, Michael Jordan should have at least eight MVPs.
2) “He doesn’t believe in Bron, like the world believes in Bron.” – Noah Faulkner
This insightful quote comes from my cousin while commenting on James’ end of game turnover in the 2012 NBA All Star game. I don’t know why but Noah’s right. He doesn’t believe in himself.
The criticism that James has received since “The Decision” and the “count your eggs early” party were not criticized because he had colluded to do it over the summer (true or not, no one cares). The real reason is that everyone knows how great James’ legacy could have become. James went to the Miami Heat and then predicted eight championships going into his eighth season. Hell, even Robert Horry only has seven. He went there because he thought it would be easy and it would cement his legacy as one of the greats.
The NBA MVP is about more than stats. It is about making a huge impact felt league wide and inspiring belief in your inevitable triumphant in teammates, opponents and fans alike; therefore, I can not, in good conscience, support a MVP vote for LeBron James. The most efficient statistical season in NBA history doesn’t mean a thing if that same player doesn’t even inspire confidence within himself. It violates previous precedents for MVP. I have a feeling that Bill Russell, privately, would agree.