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.