By Daniel Torres
By Daniel Torres
The regular season is now over. The playoff teams are set. Dwight Howard is the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year. Jason Terry has stepped off the bench to win the sixth Man of the Year award. Derrick Rose became just the third Chicago Bull to win Rookie of the Year. Mike Brown earned himself Coach of the Year.
Still, there is one award that every player strives for. An award earned only by the elite. It is an honor that can only be shared among some of the greats like Wilt Chamberlin, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan.
This award is the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.
When one thinks about this season’s most valuable player, three names come to mind: Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade and LeBron James.
Though all of these players have earned all-star status this season, only one can be named MVP.
This season, that player is LeBron James.
James deserves this award because he has elevated his game to another level this season. He led the Cleveland Cavaliers past the defending champions, the Boston Celtics, and the Western Conference Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, for the League’s best record.
James has earned his team home court advantage throughout the playoffs; a privilege that will prove to be very promising considering they only lost two games at home this season.
Bryant finishes at second place this season despite an impressive 65-17 season with the Lakers.
Bryant is the all around best player in the league. His team even defeated the Cavaliers both times this season. However, there were many games that went down to the wire because the Lakers this season have had a tendency to lose their lead late in the game.
The main reason Bryant should not receive the award is the fact that he could not lock up the best record in the league.
Bryant has a better team around him than James does, even with the absence of center Andrew Bynum.
James’ supporting cast is weak and would have most likely missed the playoffs without him.
“I define success by winning, I don’t go by the motto of ‘if you give it your best and you come up short then, oh well.’ I’m not with that,” said Bryant in a recent interview with ESPN. In this case, Bryant’s the one that came up short.
Coming in third is Wade. The Miami Heat star had an electrifying season and was the most exciting to watch.
Seeing him zigzag through defenses and get to the rim made people wonder how in the world he could do something like that.
His speed and his skills make even sportswriters want to go out on the court and be like him. He stuns the crowd and brings them to their feet, even when it’s on the other team’s court.
Wade led a team that won only 15 games last season to the No. 5 seed going into the playoffs.
Wade led the league in scoring over 30 points per game and led all three candidates in assists. Like Lebron, Wade has a very weak team surrounding him, and despite his great season he only led the Heat to 43 victories this season.
That wasn’t enough to even give his team home court advantage through the first round of the playoffs.
An MVP should be able to elevate his team to the top level.
James is clearly the favorite to win this award because he has risen to the level of true champion. He not only raised his own level of play, but that of his teammates, allowing Mo Williams to clinch the last spot on the all-star roster.
His team won their first 23 games at home. They lost only five games after the all-star break with James not playing in the last loss. The Cavaliers also went on a 13 game winning streak which was the second longest winning streak this season, behind Boston.
James had a league leading seven triple-doubles this season; every other game James was shy a few rebounds or a few assists of the triple-double. He leads his team in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks and steals.
His defense was above average again this season. His ability and effort to chase someone down the court and block their layups off the backboard was already expected of him halfway through the season.
If that doesn’t earn him his MVP award, the leadership skills he’s developed this season will. A perfect example is a game they had against the Los Angeles Clippers on March 10.
The Cavaliers were down 19 points in the fourth quarter. Anybody else would have just given up, not an MVP though. James scored or assisted on Cleveland’s 18 of their final 22 points to lead the team to victory.
It’s true that all three candidates are worthy of the MVP, but it would be ludicrous to deny James of such an honor this year.
The league’s best record came from a team revolving around an individual performance day in and day out.
What strikes the most fear in every opposing player is that James has yet to reach his full potential.