Steve Nash’s back-to back Most Valuable player seasons marked a significant turning point in the N.B.A.
Most fans would think the M.V.P Award is given to a player that was undeniably essential to their teams success. Spoiler alert, thats not the case. The M.V.P. Award is one of the most prestigious and sought after awards in the N.B.A. However, for about the past 10 years, or since Nash has won the award, I’ve noticed a considerable difference in how the winnner has decided. Multiple reasons contribute to this, a main one being the surging popularity of different players and their play styles, and more competetion for the award than in the past.
In theory, the M.V.P award is given to the most impactul player, usually on a great team or a decent one. The lines started to get blurred when players started having great overall season performances, but it didn’t neccasarily translate to great team performances in the regular season and postseason. That’s where I question if these players are the most “valuable” or the most outstamding.” Some of the players that fall in this category are
James Harden (2017-2018). -Should’ve been given to Lebron, you see what happen to the Cavaliers the year after he left.
Charles Barkley (1993-1994) Jordan was the better player, had better stats, and overall more pivotal to see his teams success.
Steve Nash- (2004-05, 2005-06)Both seasons he was actually outmatched by multiple players in the league and both M.V.P. seasons resulted in zero championships for the Suns.
The two seasons where Nash won the award he performed great and so did his team. Over the course of the season Nash averaged 15.5 points and 11.5 assists. The Suns finished the season with best record in the league and made it to the Western Conferenc Finals in back-to back seasons. However, Nash wasn’t as essential to his team’s success, as other players in the league were. I contend it was Nash’s style of play which warranted him winning the award due to his popularity level at the time. You combine Nash’s passing ability, with a high powered Mike D’Antoni offense, and Amare Stoudamire in his prime, Nash basically had the table set for him. While Nash’s 15.5 points and 11.5 assist per game stat line was impressive and essentialy what you’re looking for in a good point guard, when you put into perspective other stat lines it’s a bit underwhelming. If you take a look at Nash’s M.V.P., season and you compare it to Lebron James’s 2007, season you start to see some of the issues with how the award is decided.
In the 2007 season James almost single handidly carried the undertalented badly coached Clevaland Cavaliers to the N.B.A Finals, in just his fourth season in the league. James averaged a ridicilous 30 points per game with seven rebounds and seven assists. No high powered offense, no Mike D’Antoni or all star fowards to help him either. Just Eric snow and Zydrunas Illgalskus. The Cavaliers lack of talent showed and they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the N.B.A Finals. That same year the award was given to Dirk Nowitzki who had a great year but, the unit he was apart of was remarkable as well. He had hall of famer Jason kidd at the point throwing him absolute dimes, and quality offensive threats like Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse. For the season Nowitzki averaged 24.6 points, a little under nine rebounds per game, and helped propel the Dallas Mavericks to a franchise best 67 wins. While Dirk was crazy that season, one leg jumpers and all, the Dallas Mavericks were swept still swept by the Phoenix Suns lead by Nash in the first round. It’s clear that James was more deserving of the award that year, because he got further in the playoffs with a much worse team.
It’s not so much that any of these players are neccasarily undeserving, but the N.B.A owes it to it’s fans and their players to consider who wins the award more seriously. For most of these players, next to winning an N.B.A. championship, an M.V.P. Award is one of the biggest accomplishments in the game of basketball. Looking toward the future, the award should be given to players that completely change the fabric of their teams. Whether that’s by their stat lines, or the emotional energy they provide for the team it should be accounted for when making a decision. This will make more for a more competetive league and make players appreciate playing the game the right way.