Because he’s still the best player and media narratives aren’t worth joining. For all the mockery incurred, expectations ducked, elderly players paid, Miami’s likely headed for the 2nd seed. Apparently that’s not good enough because Wade’s too good. Or it’s not good enough because the Heat treated fans to a free agent celebration–like a team that actually wants to entertain ticket holders. Or it’s not good enough because LeBron James made a PR mistake while granting himself a promotion–like a man giddy over getting the hell out of Gilbert’s Cleveland.
Or, because media members need to teach him a lesson in the form of pretending basketball history is a fairytale, written in crayon. Almost seamlessly, fresh-faced cherub Kevin Durant is chucked for halo-hat Derrick Rose. We crave a twinkly-eyed, ascendant American Idol whom we can hoist like baby Simba. Derrick’s team won more, so he’s the more acceptable metaphorical rebuke to James’s impurity. Forget KD, let us ascribe the same “winner” qualities to this other innocent who also hasn’t yet won a playoff series.
LeBron can’t be MVP because the award is something it isn’t. It’s not just the “Most Valuable Player,” but instead a witch’s brew, derived from causation fallacies, preseason expectations, market size, and media story crafting. I hear it tastes like Budweiser Chelada. I’d rather stomach something rational.
Some would say that we should have a separate award for the most statistically dominant player. I respond: Would you like to have a dumber MVP debate than the current one? Also, isn’t the single honor straight forward to the sentient? Any reinterpretation of “Most Valuable” confuses my English-loving brain. When I hear, “Look, BEST is different from MOST VALUABLE,” it sounds a lot like, “Look, I think the tone of my voice can render basic words irrelevant.”
Let’s rinse the world of expectations for a moment. There are no media narratives, no squawking pundits, no Internet-hogging big market fan bases. Compare these two players:
Player J: 26.5 ppg, 6.8 apg, 7.5 rpg, 27.02 PER, 51 Team Wins
Player R: 24.9 ppg, 7.9 apg, 4.2 rpg, 23.45 PER, 53 Team Wins
Yes, player “J” is LeBron and he’s clearly superior to player “R,” Derrick Rose. The +/-, APER, WS, and WP all agree if you’re into slurping more of the statistical soup (Overall, James is number one in PER, APER, and WS). If you choose Rose on the basis of two more victories then I’d suggest you take long looks at the Spurs or the Lakers.
It won’t be recognized, but LeBron contributed the most of any player to a team this year. I doubt another MVP award would alter his public image, only a championship trophy could do that. So snubbing James for this regular season honor doesn’t harm him, it harms the award itself. I could live with a Dwight Howard selection, but the political nature of LeBron’s dismissal is aggravating. It shows that reality-based accomplishments can’t trump what people want to believe.
Follow @SherwoodStrauss on Twitter