When LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) teamed up this summer, the assumption was that each would sacrifice individual success for the greater glory of the team. That's only been partially true: While Bosh has seen his numbers dip considerably, James and Wade are both among the league-leaders in scoring and remain serious MVP candidates.
"I'm not even being politically correct, normally guys say I'm giving it to LeBron, but honestly I'll give it to [Derrick Rose(notes)]," Howard said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "If he stays on this pace that he's on right now, he's got my vote if I was part of the committee."
Howard doesn't have a vote for the award, which is voted on by a select group of media, but the veteran does have a logical explanation for bypassing James.
"Derrick Rose has done a phenomenal job this year for his team, and I think if you take him off the Chicago Bulls team, I believe that team will be a below-average ballclub," Howard said. "If you take LeBron off our team, I think we'll still be an above-average ballclub, because we'll still have Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
It appears that Howard is a proponent of the "most important" rather than "best player overall" criterion for MVP. That opinion should carry some weight, too, because Juwan is roughly 75 years old and still remembers when Bob Pettit won the first trophy in 1956. Respect your elders, kids.
Rose would be a worthy winner of the award, but it's also worth wondering if Howard has any other motivations for supporting his cause. If LeBron were to win MVP for the third-consecutive season, it would play into the impression that he cares more about individual accomplishments than team greatness. That's poppycock, of course, but reputations are important, especially for people who aspire to win championships and become global icons. The entire operating philosophy of the Heat this season is to band together to form a cohesive star-powered unit, not a three-star hierarchy in which LeBron sits at the top.
Ultimately, LeBron's winning or not winning an MVP won't matter much if the Heat don't come away with a championship, and Howard was likely giving his honest opinion in this case. But for a team so focused on presenting itself as a unified front where superstar status doesn't matter as much as the almighty win, Howard gave the only response that makes sense.