Winning should not equal MVP

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports/REUTERS

Javier Cortez, Contributor

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Every sports fan who intently watched the 2015 NBA Finals should have learned something that goes virtually unnoticed in sports. That is, winning is not always the best indicator as to who the best player really is.

People who watch sports tend to have these myopic tendencies to over congratulate winners and be overly critical of losers. It’s pervasive throughout team sports and it needs to stop.

The Golden State Warriors capped a brilliant season with their first NBA Title in 40 years, but the bigger storyline was the jaw-dropping performance by LeBron James and the undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers.

James led the Cavaliers to a 2-1 series lead before the Warriors ultimately proved their dominance, but over the course of the six game series James was putting up unprecedented stat line after stat line.

Many people, like me, believed he should have won the Finals MVP despite being on the losing team. The Warriors Andre Iguodala won the Finals MVP for his exemplary defense on LeBron and doing just enough offensively to garner the award over his teammate and regular season MVP Stephen Curry.

Even though LeBron was not awarded the Finals MVP, progress has been made.

LeBron James proved that you can be equally great, and even greater, despite the outcome of a championship series. He was unequivocally the best player in the series by the widest of margins that we have ever seen in NBA Finals history.

This is no embellishment on my part. Statistically he was doing things we have never seen on the biggest stage of basketball, and if you take a look at the advance stats for the series, it’s even more shocking what James did.

For example, James scored or assisted on a Finals record 62 percent of the Cavaliers’ points in the Finals. Without LeBron on the floor, four of his teammates failed to make a single shot from the field. Lastly, LeBron is the first player in Finals history to lead all players in points, rebounds and assists.

The list of Finals records goes on, but somehow people buy into this perception that MVP awards should be rewarded to the player that wins the most, regardless of their individual contribution.

This black and white narrative of championship players always being better than their losing opponents is ridiculous. Spectators need to stop conflating winning championships with a player’s greatness, it doesn’t make sense.

These unintelligent, unanalytical arguments should be echoed by people who do not know what they are talking about, not by the sports writers who get the privilege to vote on individual accolades.

The award is called Most Valuable Player, so it defies logic when we do not give the best player on the court the award.

In the 2014 NBA Finals, LeBron was the best player on the floor but he did not win the Finals MVP because his team was gruesomely beat by the San Antonio Spurs in three of the five games. This year was different, LeBron brought a less-experienced, less-skilled team to the Finals and nearly forced the series to seven games.

This method of awarding MVP’s to players for simply being on the winning team is completely antiquated, but we still use it. With the proliferation of advanced statistics in the world of sports today there is no excuse why we can’t make more intelligent decisions.

We have the hard data to make the right choices, but we’re still romanticized by winning to a nauseating degree.

So in closing I will say this. For everyone who watches sports, let’s use the 2015 NBA Finals as a stepping stone to start watching sports in a more intelligent, analytical, logical way. If we do then we won’t have to keep having conversations about why the best players are not rewarded with what they deserve.

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]

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