When the announcement was made yesterday that Derrick Rose had been awarded the NBA’s MVP for this season many things became clear to me once again. It became clear that democracy was not dead, that the new-old guard wasn’t entitled the their way just because they wake up in the morning and make “decisions” and that life after Jordan in Chicago finally didn’t have to just be piercing with the pain of seven-foot teenage failures, the franchise is now vindicated.
While the Bulls have had an amazing run this year, and all-out assaulted their way to the best record in the league, there has still been an air of “these guys aren’t legit” or they are just the ultimate underdog that will show they really aren’t what that record says. So it is only appropriate that the winner of the year’s top individual honor takes on that same image while representing that club. Despite the fact that he made history twice yesterday in the course of taking home his new hardware, becoming the youngest winner ever and only the second winner to not receive a single vote the year before, it still feels to me like Rose is still seen as a bit of a party crasher that won on hype.
And you know what? Good, I like that. It gives him the edge still.
His entire road along the NBA so far has been built up on doubt followed by immediate awe. When he came into the league as the top pick, it was immediately wondered if he had the personality or the fire to lead a team, let alone take over for one. After completely reviving the Bulls franchise and winning top Rook honors, then pushing the defending champion Celtics to the brink in his playoff debut, those questions were temporarily ended. Then this year when the Bulls started shredding folks nightly, with him decimating every guard that even stepped within his general area, folks still weren’t convinced, wanting to stick to the agreed idea that Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo or somehow Stephon Marbury Jr. (Russell of OKC), was somehow better than him. Well let’s put that to bed right now….
NONE OF THEM ARE SEEING HIM. Period. Matter of fact, there are only two guards in the league overall that I’ll entertain as being in the same league as him right now. One is in LA and the other is in Miami. If anyone even thinks about nominating another one I’ve only got one finger from either hand that will speak to you for me.
The top four vote getters, in order, were Dwight Howard, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, and while they all did their thing, none of their effort stands up to what Pooh did on any front this year. Remember that if someone would’ve tried to seriously tell you in October that the Bulls would be the best team in basketball this year, most people would’ve laughed and told you 1998 was a long time ago, wake up. Not with the Justice League assembled on South Beach. Not with the Celtics bringing everybody back. And definitely not with the champs in LA still guided by the God of All-Post Jordan Basketball. Not possible right?
Well lets take a look at what’s happened since. Miami often had the closing skills of a revolving door, the Celtics traded away their only clear advantage and started looking real elderly, Dwight Howard was left on an island of haymakers by himself and the Lakers played their most inconsistent basketball in four years. All the while there was a blur of red and white coming out of Chicago that went 7-2 against the other three MVP candidates. And remember that this is a team that went 41-41 the last two seasons before Rose decided to go into overdrive for a full season.
Any more questions? Do we need to look at the individual cases as well? Okay then, let’s do too. I’ve got time.
Dwight Howard had to carry more weight for his club this season than any other big man I can remember. But at the end of the day I can’t give the MVP to a guy that got ejected and suspended in the fashion that he did. He definitely cost the Magic games that way, and that’s not MVP type behavior.
What about LeBron? His stats were off the scale once again right? Well of course they were, he can get 27 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in his sleep, and he did that once again this year. But he’s a victim of his own place and potential. Everybody knows he can do more on the court than anybody else in the League right now, yet he couldn’t push his supremely talented club to any measure of extended success, and the images of him missing shots that would’ve led to about six more crucial wins RIP’ed him this year.
Kobe? He’s always in the mix simply because he’s the best player in the game right now and has earned his stripes on repeat. But when you lead the proven best club in the game over the past two years to the exact same record they had last year (seasons where he didn’t win MVP either), I can’t give him the nod over a guy that clearly took his team to another stratosphere with his individual effort. Kobe may very well win another MVP of a different variety this year, but he’s not the guy for this one.
In the end, defining what defines an MVP is a very individual take on what defines value. Is it the most dominant player regardless of result? The absolute most talented player? The best guy on the best team? Or the biggest difference maker and catalyst who changes a teams very image with his effort?
I’m inclined to go with the last reason, and that’s the very definition of what Derrick Rose is on Chicago. He IS Chicago. He closes out games, while also burying teams early. He didn’t lead the league in scoring, assists or sound bites per game, so it’s not a big glamor number you’re gonna get from him. If he focused on it, I’m sure he could get his Tiny Archibald on and lead in both categories, but that doesn’t make the Bulls better. What did make them better this year was him taking the ball and closing more games out than any other player in the league, and by becoming a juggernaut himself, he made the other 11 guys one as well.
Nobody else did that, and very few are even capable of doing so, so get used it folks. This isn’t a show that’s anywhere near over. But keep waiting for him to fail, he’ll be too busy proving you wrong to ever tell you you are.