As I lay in the back seat of this tiny 2014 Toyota Yaris on the road to San Diego, with bags packed in the trunk like Chinese food in its box and feet pressed against the window as I try to get comfortable, I think about the NBA Finals Game 6 that looms in the near future. The discussion that has been brought up after another stellar performance on Sunday in Oakland by Cavaliers star Lebron James, is that he is deserving of the Finals MVP award. I agree. But there's one small catch. The Cavs have to win the title. There are several people saying that Lebron is deserving of the accolade even if the Cavs lose tonight or in game 7. ESPN released a figure that shows comparisons between James' performance to Jerry West's in 1969, when the Lakers lost in the Finals to the Boston Celtics in seven games. The numbers are startling to say the least, with Lebron James having better numbers than West in every category.
West is the only player to ever lose a Finals and get the Finals MVP for his losing efforts. “West is the only player to ever lose a finals and get the Finals MVP for his losing efforts.” Losing. In my opinion, a loser does not deserve the Finals MVP unless he simply outplays everyone on the court, and if there are not other players for the winning side who are making major contributions on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball. Even if this happened, I do not see how that team would win, thus giving reason to give the award to the best loser. By doing this, the NBA is toying with the integrity of the award and essentially creating a Most Valuable Loser trophy. '
Yes, Lebron James' numbers this finals are unreal. In game 2, James became the first player in the last 20 years to bucket 20 points, collect 8 rebounds and dish out 8 assists in the first half of any game, not just playoffs. Let's look at some of the players who have dawned an NBA uniform since 1995. Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Tim Duncan, Shaq, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, and so on. The list is long, and the fact that no one in that list had done achieved such a feat in any game makes it even more impressive that James was able to do it. Not only was he able to do something so special, he was able to do it in the playoffs against a Golden State team that is statistically the third best defense in the playoffs. James' performance this finals is out of this world, as he desperately wants to win another championship. He is putting up 36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game, nearly a triple double. He is on a tear and realizes how valuable he is to his team and city since Kevin Love went down in the second round and Kyrie Irving, who has been battling injury the entire playoffs, went down with a knee injury in game one. No player has ever averaged 35 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists for an entire NBA Finals, thus another reason why James would be deserving of the award.
However, it all comes down to the fact that the entire point of the playoffs is to win, and the best player for the Finals on the winning team should receive the MVP award unless, as stated before, there was no standout contributor. During the 2014 Finals, Kawhi Leonard, not nearly the best player on the San Antonio Spurs, played excellent defense and added on the offensive half en route to the Final MVP award. It is not the best player on the court, because a true MVP will find ways to win and will create chances for his teammates so that the entire team benefits. Steph Curry is my Finals MVP as of right now should the Warriors win one of the two remaining games in the series. He is averaging 28.5 points, 6.3 assists and 5 rebounds a game. Although he is not putting up 40 every night, he is giving his team the best chance for victory by moving the ball around well. There are points where Golden State resembles the Spurs in ball movement and the ability to sacrifice a grade B shot and make the extra pass for a grade A shot. They are willing to make the extra pass to get the better shot, and create an overall much more team game.
To wrap it up, Lebron James does deserve the MVP award, and I would not be surprised if he got it, but he would make a much more convincing argument if he won Larry O'Brien Trophy.