The Closest MVP Race in NBA History
With the NBA regular season coming to an end, fans now look forward to the NBA postseason. However, there is still unfinished business to take care of from the regular season.
It is now time for those NBA players who worked hard and played harder to receive recognition for all their accomplishments throughout the regular season. The most prestigious NBA season award is the Most Valuable Player award.
The award was first presented to St. Louis Hawks forward Bob Pettit, for his play during the 1955-56 NBA season. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has won the award more than any other NBA player ever, having received it a record six times.
Since 1981, the award winner has been decided by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout North America. In 2010, fans became allowed to cast their vote for the MVP award winner online.
This past season, there were many players who showed flashes of their greatness and made strong cases as to why they should be considered the league’s most valuable player.
Much of the attention has now been focused on former teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Both of whom have been the leaders of their teams (Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets), respectively.
These two players were teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2009-2012. Now both in their prime, they have had historic seasons. Each having put up some of the best numbers of their careers.
Westbrook is the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double throughout the season. He also broke Robertson’s 55-year old record for the most triple-doubles in a season, by recording 42 of them. He finished the 2016-17 season averaging a league leading 31.4 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game, and 10.4 assists per game.
Harden had a break out season himself, also recording his fair of triple-doubles with 22. He also led his team to the record for the most 3-point field goals made in a single season. He finished the 2016-17 season averaging 29.1 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, and a league leading 11.2 assists per game.
Both players have obviously had incredible seasons and making a case for either of them to be named the most valuable player would simple, if they were not in the same league.
The MVP Race has become so close and intense even NBA legends find it difficult to choose one of the two. “We might see our first co-MVPs this year,” Kobe Bryant said.
Other players find the choice to be obvious. “If you had James Harden ahead of Russell Westbrook, you’re wrong,” Shaquille O’Neal said.
Now the players themselves have also chimed in on their historic MVP race. “I thought winning was what this is about,” James Harden said.
The Houston Rockets ended the NBA season with a record of 55-27, landing them the 3rd seed in the Western Conference. The Oklahoma City Thunder ended the season with a record of 47-35, putting them at the 6th seed in the same conference.
Harden alluding to the fact that his team has won more games than Westbrook’s team, is his reason as to why he should be named the league’s MVP.
This is a fair statement since every NBA MVP award winner since 1989 has been a member of a top 2 team in their respective conference. The last award winner not a part of a top 2 seeded team was Michael Jordan in 1988, as the Chicago Bulls finished 3rd in the Eastern Conference standings.
Westbrook does not seem too concerned about the MVP award himself. “I play to win a championship. That’s it. That’s all I care about,” he said.
Regardless of how tight of a race, strong a discussion, or controversial this MVP race may be, one thing is certain. Only one of these players will be named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the 2016-17 season. Fans can only wait to see who it will be.