Friday, May 4, 2012

The Case for Tony Parker as NBA MVP

The Chicago Bulls had an outstanding season and may end up with the best regular season record, but they don't have any clear leader to their season.  Incredibly, their season was defined by role players and not by Derrick Rose, who missed many games due to injury.

There were many great players during the season, like Kevin Love of Minnesota or Blake Griffin and Chris Paul from the Clippers, but only a few stand out for potential MVP.

The four real possibilities for this year's MVP are Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Tony Parker.  

For many of the critics, Kobe is the last of these four that deserves MVP consideration because his team's overall performance was not at the top of the league and because he missed games.

So, it really comes down to James, Durant and Parker.

They have strong supporting casts, but, if James, Durant or Parker were not playing, the Heat, Thunder and Spurs would be drastically different.  Russell Westbrook, the leading shot-blocker Serge Ibaka, Sixth Man of the Year James Harden, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan would all have to figure out ways to rally their troops to make the playoffs as significantly lower seeds.

A closer look shows that James and Durant have the electricity and high-flying acrobatic plays on their side.  Parker has had plenty of electricity to his game this season, but he hasn't done any dunking or high-flying (in any season, for that matter).

Parker also must fight against any bias voters may have towards foreign players.  Though there have been MVP's from other countries, Dirk Nowitzki from Germany and Steve Nash from Canada, Parker would be the first African-American foreign player to win the award (Hakeem Olajuwon-Nigerian born played his college ball stateside and played for the U.S. national team, winning '96 Olympic gold).  

James plays for a big-market team in Miami while Durant and Parker are in smaller markets in OKC and San Antonio.  Typically, big-market teams get more attention and with the added attention, more MVP votes go their way.

It also can be argued that Lebron and KD have better stats (Lebron=27 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, KD=28 points, 8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, Parker=18 points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists) and are therefore more deserving.

But, their teams didn't win at the same level as Parker's did.

If one is to analyze what the words mean in MVP, big markets, highlight reels, coming from another country and stats shouldn't matter.  The most technically important letter is the 'V' for Valuable. 

Based on performance only, Parker has to be the MVP because his team has the strongest record.  If the Bulls had that one guy, maybe things would be different, but they didn't.

Durant or Lebron may be the MOP, most outstanding player, but voting them over Parker for MVP when their teams had a lesser record is not really fair and does not acknowledge Parker's superior, spectacular year.

They were all generally consistent throughout the season, but Parker was just a touch more consistent, which made him just a tad more valuable.

Some would say the Spurs had better coaching, but that can't discount the follow-through from Parker. He remained invaluable to his team all season.  His steadiness is why the season worked out the way it did for the Spurs.

Originally published April 24, 2012

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