Are we beyond the saturation point, in the Great MVP Debate of 2011?
Do we know the score? Have we been reminded that Dwight Howard easily affected basketball games in a positive way for his team more often and more consistently than Derrick Rose did, in 2010-11? Have we got it yet, about how LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, probably Kobe Bryant and even Dirk Nowitzki (despite some time spent on the bench while injured) were probably much more impactful in terms of actual on-court production -- all those minor things like points and rebounds and efficient scoring and effectiveness that actually lead to wins?
Are we aware of the fact, and not conjecture nor opinion, that other NBA players were more valuable both in a vacuum and to their teams than Derrick Rose this season? If not, get wise. Derrick Rose was not the most valuable player in the NBA during 2010-11. He was probably the best story, and (for me, at least) the most entertaining player to watch in the NBA. But once you factor in defense (which is half the game, TV guys) and all the on-court contributions that lead to winning, Derrick Rose falls short.
He's also the MVP, though. And it's time for everyone to stop having a problem with that.
Because at the risk of sounding like I'll sound when I've fallen out of love with my job 20 years from now, Derrick Rose affected his team on a level that the better MVP candidates could not match in 2010-11. And that, to me, makes up for the gulf (the major, major gap) when it comes to on-court production. Enough so that I'd call the MVP vote a wash, a coin-flip, and nothing worth bashing my head over. And, yes, I was born in Cook County. Why do you ask?
There is something to all the nonsense that we get handed, from people that don't watch as much NBA basketball as someone like you (reading an NBA blog in the middle of a Wednesday) and I, about the spark that comes from playing with a player like Rose. There was a collaboration of events that occurred with this Bulls team this season that I honestly feel should be celebrated. If not with hardware, than with our admiration.
This year's Bulls won more games than any other team in the regular season, and that shouldn't have happened. This year's Bulls, somehow, wanted to go all out for a coach in Tom Thibodeau who was unrelenting in his approach -- overplaying key workers, fretting over blown assignments deep into blowouts, and scheduling practices during Chicago Bears playoff games. Thibs earned that Coach of the Year award, and he was right in his message (if not articulation), but the level of devotion to him was atypical for this league.
And because Rose bought in, the rest of the team followed suit. There was something to Derrick's silent nods in the locker room that made it possible for the rest of the team to want to follow through on Thibodeau's instructions. This was Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich all over again, without all that humor and levity getting in the way. Tom Thibodeau was the most valuable staffer on the Chicago Bulls this season, all but one player included in that group, and Derrick Rose made it possible for his steely determination and constant X's and O's machinations to find a home on the court. Also, Derrick Rose is good at finishing in the paint.
Sad to say, but this wasn't the case in Orlando, Miami, or even Los Angeles (share a couple of truth serum and bourbon shooters with Phil Jackson, and see what he thinks about Kobe's shot selection late in games). You can't give an MVP award to a coach, or a bench that wants to work hard to sustain the lead that their leader sometimes single-handedly created. So you give it to the centerpiece. And Tuesday, the NBA gave its MVP award to Derrick Rose.
None of this is necessary, mind you. Not only is virtue its own reward (it really is, because silent and smug self-satisfaction is honestly the greatest thing ever, guys), but the real reward for leading a team and acting as you should comes in your place in the standings. Whether you surprisingly shoot to a .500 record or land atop the won/loss leader board, that should be reward in and of itself. The league's MVP voters are under no obligation to reward the best player on that team with any sort of commendation beyond that.
However, the league's voters (misguided as they often are) did. None of us should bat an eye. Keep cool, my babies.
This is the point, even with Chicago and Rose limping through the playoffs, that we accept these things for what they are, stay mindful and vigilant of what led us to be dubious in the first place, and not seek to diminish the charge and spirit that Derrick Rose's guidance brought to the best team in the 2010-11 regular season. I'm right there in admiring Taj Gibson's moving feet or Kyle Korver's shooting touch with the rest of you, but we also have to step back and admire the serenity and single-mindedness that results from having a true leader pull back that curtain for you.
Derrick Rose is the 2010-11 NBA Most Valuable Player. And it's time for us to realize why.