We're getting to the time of year when MVP candidates are debated. I have always wondered if there are any rules to MVP voting. Does the NBA say what criteria you look for in an MVP? If you ask 10 fans I bet you get 10 different opinions. Some say it's the best player on the best team. Most often that's who wins it, like Nowitski last year, but Kareem won it in 1976 when his team didn't even make the playoffs, so it's not a hard and fast rule. Is it the best player in the league? Sometimes, but then how do you explain that Kobe has never won it?
Is it the most valuable player to his team? The name of the award is the NBA MVP, or League MVP. It's who is most valuable to the entire league, not to his own team. I mean Elton Brand is probably the MVP to the Clippers (especially considering how bad they are without him) but he is barely a blip on the NBA radar. No one runs out to the stadium to see Elton Brand play. The MVP is a guy who moves the needle for the league. For example, when Kobe comes to your town people say 'I'm going to see Kobe tonight' because he may drop 81 points on your team. It's all about Star Power. That's why guys like Jordan, Bird and Magic won so many MVPs. When they came to your town it was an event. Even the terrible teams sell out when those guys came to play. And when you sell tickets, that's valuable to the league.
I think the MVP is a lot like the Oscars. It's mostly a promotional tool the league uses to get some exposure. Think about it: A few weeks after the Finals they announce the MVP. ESPN puts it on Sportscenter and shows some highlights, maybe SI puts it on the cover. Then the MVP's team puts him on the cover of their media guide next year, and when he comes to your town they can advertise the game by saying 'Come see the MVP'.
So who will win the MVP this year? I'm guessing it's either Kobe or Le Bron. They are both big stars having big years. I lean to Kobe, since he hasn't won it yet and Le Bron has a lot of time left. That shouldn't count, but I think it does. Kind of like the Oscars giving it to a great actor who never won it before, even if his current film isn't his best work.