I love the debate over the MVP in the NBA. The arguments start about two-thirds of the way through the regular season, voters lineup in their camps, secure in their logic for Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard and then the post season happens. I love the NBA, but the regular season is nothing but window dressing for the two-month battle of attrition known as the playoffs.
From October to March–Westbrook makes the kind of history that leaves us invoking comparisons to Oscar Robertson, but in the playoffs he manages a single win and is more notable for what he wears to a game instead of how he plays in it.
Harden, a marvelous offense force, believes defense is best played with a red cape—’ole.’ Leonard is the most well-rounded of the three, but really, do any of these compare to LeBron?
Yes, I know—we suffer a bit from ‘LeBron fatigue.’ It’s fun to vote for someone else every now and then—Michael Jordan won the award five times, but only twice during his six championship seasons. Were there really four more valuable players to their teams at a time when Jordan was winning the titles that cemented his legacy as the ‘greatest of all time’? Hardly, and so it is with LeBron.
James has been to the last 6 NBA Finals, winning three titles with two teams. We take him so much for granted that his 27 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game in the regular season don’t even get him onto the fringe of MVP talk. I get that—kind of—the Cav’s were second to Boston in the Eastern Conference, but since then have won 7 straight when it counts–with LeBron averaging better than 34 points 9 rebounds and 7 assists.
James just passed Kareem on the all-time post season scoring list and should reel in—gasp—His Airness before a champion is crowned. I know, he won four of five MVP’s before Kevin Durant and Steph Curry started sharing the hardware, but this will mark the fourth straight year that LeBron hasn’t been recognized, during a stretch that could well produce two championships. Besides, if a player is generally accepted into the argument of being the greatest of all-time, shouldn’t he least be considered among the best from year to year?
Charles in Charge
Jamaal Charles went all in on his signing with the Broncos, slinging daggers the Chiefs way by admitting that he ‘grew up a fan of the Broncos’ and identifying John Elway as his favorite all time player. Obviously, he’s a little bitter about the way it ended in KC, but you love a player who has a chip on his should and still feels like he has something to prove.
We’ll see what the mobility looks like, but if it’s there—Charles immediately makes Denver’s offense better, at least situationally. The Broncos don’t want or need him as an every down guy, but his versatility as a pass catcher gives OC Mike McCoy a lot of options. If he still has any juice in the run game—then it’s just an added bonus.
Cutler in the booth
I’m a big fan of irony—so how about Jay Cutler becoming a part of the sports media that he so seemingly loathed during his career? It doesn’t seem like a great match, after all Cutler was known for his brooding, one-sentence answer/blow offs as a player—but every indication is that he ‘crushed’ his audition with Fox.