Cleveland Cavaliers

Former Leader of Steals Might "Take" MVP Honors

With an 82-game season, it is pretty difficult to not know who the MVP of the season is. If one reviews past years and looks at Shaquille O’Neal’s, Kevin Garnett’s, and Tim Duncan’s dominance during their respective MVP seasons, the word destiny seems to be attributed to their receiving the honor. However, this season is not so clear cut. The winner is not going to be known until the end of the season.

Initially, no one would discredit Steve Nash’s efforts in leading the Amare Stoudemire-less Suns to practically a no contest Pacific Division Title.

Well, you’re looking at an author who thinks Lebron might be honored instead if Nash is not careful.
It has been a tough road for Lebron and his team this season. This is the main reason Lebron, despite his terrific numbers, has not been considered for the award. During a Lakers-Cavaliers matchup, Lebron was asked to comment on Kobe Bryant’s relentless scoring barrage in which he scorched teams for 60-80 points. Lebron responded that unlike him, Kobe has this instinct in which he practically “kills” everybody. Though a fairly accurate statement considering Kobe demolished the Mavericks and Raptors, Lebron would face criticism for this statement. He practically admitted that he was not ready for that level.

He was not ready to take over games. He was not ready to be mean. He was not ready to win.

The mentality would carry onto the court. A close game throughout, the Lakers found themselves up 99-97 after three jumpers from Kobe. Lebron was fouled on the ensuing play and was unable to capitalize as he hit one of two free throws. Gooden’s offensive rebound bailed him out but the minute Gooden grabbed the board, Lebron froze. Gooden motioned to Lebron, pointing he had the ball but he just stood there. The life appeared to be sucked out of him, and the team called a timeout. Once again, Lebron failed as he missed the potential game winner. Lebron left Staples Center with a disgruntled look on his face.

The aforementioned events became over hyped as numerous people criticized Lebron, saying that he still has some ways to go before he could reach the plateau of greatness. Lebron apparently did nothing to quash the criticism as he went 0-8 from the field in the second half against the Washington Wizards. That was the second loss of what would be a five game losing streak. The Cavaliers were 32-26 and quickly becoming the sub-par .500 team they were the last two seasons. The criticism seemed just. Lebron was just not ready.

Boy, were we wrong.

In what was supposed to be an easy victory, Lebron and his Cavaliers were going down the wire with the Charlotte Bobcats. A very close game, Lebron did what many thought he was incapable of: he saved the day…twice. Nearing the end of regulation, Lebron dished the ball to Flip Murray who made a game-typing three pointer. In overtime, Lebron proved his worth with a jumper with 0.9 seconds left. That jumper would be a game-winner. Lebron finally got the monkey off his shoulder.

Lebron would build on this success upon realizing that the Cavaliers were just a few games away from clinching a playoff spot. Unfortunately, in order to get there, they had to defeat one of the best teams this season, the Dallas Mavericks. In arguably his best and most efficient performance in which he made 16 of his 23 shot attempts, Lebron and his team cruised to a 107-94 victory. Nothing would stop James that night. He was going to the playoffs.

Besides these key performances, Lebron has been having a phenomenal year, averaging 31.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.7 assists. Those numbers may warrant any player MVP consideration, however, if Lebron is to be the MVP, the other candidates simply have to knock themselves out of the running.

Steve Nash has been doing that recently.

The bonafide MVP for the first seventy games of the season, Nash is apparently in cruise control. The Phoenix Suns have lost three of their last five games. This is actually not too alarming considering how good their record is. However, the way they have lost is inexcusable. The New Jersey Nets handed the Suns their worst offensive output in a 110-72 blowout victory. This game was apparently not a fluke as the Suns were blown out by the Milwaukee Bucks in their next game. The Suns would redeem themselves with victories over the Pacers and Raptors, but they gave up too many points. Something is wrong when the Raptors score 126 points. Finally, their last loss was against the Pistons. Granted, this year is about who hasn’t loss to the Pistons, but when your team is up as much as 17 points with three minutes left in the third quarter, how do you lose? The comeback victory in which Billups poured in 35 points proved that he may be a more deserving candidate than Nash.

It is perfectly fine for the Phoenix Suns to lose games as long as Nash is still producing his typical numbers. However, his numbers plummeted in the last five games with his lowest output being a 0 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists against the Nets. Nash even logged 26 minutes in this game which only proved that he was not carrying his team.

Nash definitely should show that last week was a fluke for his team. The only reason I am so hard on him is that many claimed that Shaq coasted during the last few games last season. He and Nash were the top two candidates for the MVP award and that could have possibly been a factor that gave the award to Nash. Though I do not believe Nash cares for the honor, I think it would be a shame if he lets the last ten games of the season knock him out of the running. The award would validate what he did last season.

The league can be very forgiving for successful teams, so I believe Nash will still receive the award. Nash has played superbly the entire year, unlike Lebron whose outburst has occurred solely in the last month. In addition, Lebron’s game winner occurred when the score was tied, and there is a lot less pressure in that situation. However, none of this matters if the MVP does not finish the season strong. After all, it is the season MVP, not the “seventy games and rest before the playoffs MVP.”

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