Wednesday, May 11, 2005


So, on Sunday, Suns point guard Steve Nash was named NBA MVP. The same day, Miami Herald sports columnist Dan Le Batard made the case--well, sort of said that someone might be able to make the case maybe--that the decision wasn't entirely based on talent and it may have had a little to do with race. Shortly after that, Peter Vecsey wrote his own column in the New York Post blasting Le Batard and the whole concept.

Sure, race played some role. Subconsciously? Of course. And how can you even argue about whether something occurred subconsciously or not? But in a race this close, with players this talented, did it even bear mention? There were 300-something voters, I think. OK, so let's see the list of voters--broken down by race, and who they voted for. Gonna tell me no black sportswriters voted for Shaq simply because he's black and Nash isn't? I'm in no way implying that happened--just like Le Batard, just raising an issue--and pointing out how pointless this argument is.

It was a super-close vote. If the numbers had gone the other way, wouldn't some of the same people have asked why NASH didn't win? Pointing out that Shaq had (for him) a somewhat middle-of-the-road season, that he coasted towards the end, that maybe he wasn't even the MVP of his own team? Pointing out that the Suns looked completely different when Nash was injured, and their incrdible improvement over last season? (Why didn't Jason Kidd win the MVP his first year with the Nets, when he did basically the same thing? I don't know.)

As it stands right now, O'Neal--the L's most dominant player since MJ retired (the second time) has only won one MVP. The same number as Nash. O'Neal is a beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt first ballot Hall of Famer. Nash? He has a long way to go. If Shaq never wins another MVP, that won't change. (Incidentally, John Stockton, the whitest player in the history of the universe--and possibly the best pure point guard ever--won exactly zero MVP awards.)

And, for God's sake, is there anything sillier than an award DETERMINED by the media getting ARGUED about in the same media? Talk about self-serving. (No, I don't have a vote. If I did, I would have voted for Shaq. I think. And I'm white.) This isn't Michael Jordan losing to Fred Hoiberg, here. This was a case of two super-talented players in a close race (no pun intended), where whatever the result, someone was going to have to rationalize why one won and the other lost. And when things are this hard to decide, they're almost never black or white.


DotComMotion said...

I never thought sportwriters could go South African politricks on us,especially when discussing who deserves the MVP award more.Fact is Steve Nash won it and that's all that matters at the end of the day.Oh how I wish Steve Nash was Black...

Joey said...

I think that Nash's skin color makes him an abberation and earns him the benfit of the doubt, but I don't think race had much to do with his selection. I think he was the wrong choice (I had him sixth behind Shaq, Dirk, Duncan, A.I., and Bron), though.

Russ, I used to read Slam, and it's nice to have another informed basketball blogger with a hip-hop sensibility. I have two sites that may interest you. One is my general politcs/hip-hop/culture/sports blog; that's Another is a site I write for as part of the Most Valuable Network, and it's called End of the Bench. Check 'em out and leave me some feedback, and I always enjoy hearing from other people.

Paul Rizzy said...

Bron? Lottery team w/ him, lottery team w/o him.

Anyway, good to have you on board, I've been subscribing to Slam for 4 or 5 years now and I've been down since 96.

Joey said...

Lottery team with him (barely), worst team in the league without him. He's good for about 30 wins just by himself. That's value.

Paul Rizzy said...

I think they still win 20 without him, that would have only made them 4th worst. The Knicks barely beat the Cavs at home without him and this was before they completely tanked. (Yeah I'm still bitter that I was there and it was the one game he missed all year.) Still don't make him more valuable than Nash.

Russ said...

I kinda think the MVP has to come from a playoff team. Because, except for the ping-pong balls, what's the difference between 9th in the conference and dead last?

Nash did make that Suns team run this year--not taking away from Amare, Marion, Q, JJ, etc. It's just a shame that Kidd didn't get the same recognition when he did the same (if not more so--he had less of a supporting cast) for the Nets. But do you take it away from Duncan? Sometimes it's too bad that only one guy can win MVP.

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