I love Steve Nash. I love everything about his game. I love watching him run the floor, make the right pass – beautifully – and hit the big shot. I love watching him conduct the symphony called the Phoenix Suns. But I can no longer sit idle while he’s all but anointed with his third consecutive Most Valuable Player Award.
It’s not even halfway through the season and hoops media heads coast-to-coast are already etching his name on the trophy. Their reasoning? His numbers – 19.9 points and 12.0 assists, while shooting 54 percent from the field and a remarkable 40 percent from they-land – are better than last season when he won his second consecutive MVP award. So how can you deny him a third?
Easy. The award is never solely about stats. During any given season – even during the Jordan Era – there are typically at least two, if not three, worthy candidates. And the winner is often determined by a number of factors: team record, strength of teammates, even being overlooked in past years can sway some votes. Michael Jordan never won it three seasons straight. Neither did Magic Johnson or Larry Bird. Nor did Moses Malone or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The only players to win three straight are Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.
All the aforementioned multiple MVP winners have another thing in common: They all have at least one ring. They’ve led teams to championships. In fact, Nash is the only multi-MVP winner who hasn’t carried a team to an NBA title. Give him one. Give him two. But I find it pretty hard to make Nash a three-time-running MVP winner when his Suns have not even reached the NBA Finals.
Especially in a season when, on my card, someone else deserves it: Dirk Nowitzki.
Like Nash, the Dallas forward is having a career season. He’s just .7 off last season’s scoring average and better in every other critical category. And as of tonight, the Mavs, who got off to an 0-5 start, have a slightly better record (37-9) than the Suns (36-9), even though Phoenix is coming off a 17-game win streak.
Moreover, I venture that Dirk has aa less talented supporting cast that Nash. Sure, Josh Howard has elevated his game and become Nowitzki’s “Pippen,” but is he as good as Amare Stoudemire? And who’s Dallas’ Shawn Marion? Its Raja Bell? No Mav’s even close.
Dirk Nowitzki is doing just as much as Nash this season in terms of production and leadership with fewer weapons in his arsenal. I love Steve Nash But if we’re going to anoint an MVP before the midway juncture of the season, it has to be Dirk.
PS: My second-place vote? Gilbert Arenas.