Rog: I love it when white people put down white athletes and say and do things in a manner that a black person would do them. I saw plenty of this behavior in college. As a non-Anglo, it amuses the hell out of me. It's like some type of bizarre self-hatred and sociological affirmative action rolled into one big mess. Bill Simmons: One Jive Turkey!Most people -- and this definitely includes basketball analysts -- are more impressed by speed, power, and sheer athleticism than anything else. That's why many people don't remember just how great Larry Bird really was. When you see Bird on a highlight film, it's usually one of his patented step-back jumpers or a slick (but fundamentally sound) pass. You don't see him flying around the court and dunking the ball. So how could he have been great?
Anonymous: one, let's not use the postseason to justify who won the MVP. last i checked it was awarded for the regular season.Indeed it is. And since Nash won the MVP award in the regular season, I guess my argument was moot. But he has been MVP-like in the post-season as well, leading his team to victory when other MVP candidates have not.
Anonymous: When exactly did Simmons claim to be an unbiased expert? I must have missed it...You're right. He's biased (particularly toward Boston-based teams) and lets everyone know it. However, he has claimed that his personal biases do not affect his ability to rationally and accurately assess the sports he covers. That's just not true. When he develops a beef against someone, he becomes almost entirely incapable of judging that person solely by their merits and ability.
Laura: first, let me say that this was a great smackdown of bill simmons.Thanks.
Second, i agree with anonymous that you shouldn't use the postseason to justify the mvp award.And, in all fairness, so do I.
third, i love steve nash and i love his politics. but i think the regular season mvp should have gone to either dirk nowitzki or lebron james. i think part of the reason nash is doing so well is because of the rule changes stern made and because d'antoni is such a great coach. the system nash is in is conducive to the new rule changes, so that explains nash's increased success.
A lot of the anti-Nash sentiment comes from the "Mike D'Antoni is such a great coach" contingent. But is he really? I mean, he coached Denver to a 14-36 record in 1998. He was 21-40 in his first season with Phoenix, despite having two legitimate 20/10 guys on the roster (Marion and Stoudimire). So his pre-Nash coaching record was 36-76. Then he teams up with Mr. MVP and wins 62 games. There's no question that D'Antoni chose the perfect system for his personnel. But the whole "great coach" sentiment is either overstated or unproven.
As for the rule changes, those were put into effect this year. They were not in effect last season when the Suns won 62 games and Nash got his first MVP. His scoring was up three points per game, but that was due more to Stoudemire being out (giving him additional scoring responsibility) than any rule changes. He attempted 40 more freethrows this year, sure, but he also took over 100 more shots than the previous season. He also shot better from the field and the line. Nash isn't an athletic 2-guard. Those are the guys who really benefited from the rule changes. Guys like Kobe, Lebron, Paul Pierce.
I don't agree that Lebron was more deserving of MVP than Nash. The Suns were a better team in a better conference. Now Dirk, on the other hand, that I might agree with. And that dude has been absolute dynamite in the playoffs. I mean, his rebounding numbers have been through the roof. He's MVP of the playoffs so far.
i'm not saying that nash should give back his mvp. i'm just saying that no way he's on the same level as a player as tim duncan, magic, bird, and jordan, who all won back to back mvps. there are other players who are better overall players than him who never won an mvp, much less back to back.No, I wouldn't put nash in the Bird/Jordan/Magic category just yet. And yes, there are better players who never won an MVP. But nonetheless, last year he joined a team that had won 29 games, and a coach with a career 36-76 record, and made it a 62-win team. Then, when that very same team lost several key components (Quentin Richardson, Joe Johnson, and Paul Shirley) and Stoudimire went down for the season, the Suns still managed to win 53 games. And Nash made castoffs like Kurt Thomas, Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, and Tim Thomas look like fantastic players. No one else even wanted those guys. Nash has taken them to the Western Conference Finals. Would you compare Marion/Bell/Diaw to Pippen/Grant/Paxon? Or Pippen/Rodman/Harper? Or McHale/Parish/Johnson/Ainge? Or Kareem/Worthy/Wilkes?
shaq hasn't won back to back mvps--and he's a greater player than nash, even though his game is clearly going down. why is that? is nash at his best anywhere near shaq's game at his best? yet nash is the one with 2 mvps.Shaq has no one to blame for his lack of MVPs but himself. The Diesel lost out on several MVPs because 1) he misses about 20 games a season with minor (re: questionable) injuries, 2) he usually coasts through the regular season, saving his best for the playoffs (when he inevitably shines), and finally 3) because he would often show up to training camp overweight and use the regular season as his personal weight loss program. He once had surgery right before the season started because he didn't want to miss out on any fun during the summer. He even said, "I got hurt on company time, so I'm going to get better on company time." That's not an MVP attitude. So while there was no question of his greatness, particularly in relation to Nash, there have been questions about his desire and dedication...at least during the regular season. When he was with the Lakers, his team should have won 60 games every season. Instead they'd go through long stretches of mediocrity and strife, then turn it on in the playoffs. The factors counted against Shaq in MVP voting.
it's like phil jackson and his 9 rings. he only won one coach of the year award. it's these kind of things that make year end awards seem like a joke.You said that MVP is based on the regular season, not on the playoffs. Similarly, Coach of the Year is based on a team's regular season performance, not on whether it wins the championship.
sameer: I find myself disagreeing with Simmons fairly often, though I do read a lot of him. BUT...I tend to agree with his assessment of Nash in the Clippers/Suns series. And here are the holes in your argument.I disagree. But I'll hear you out.
- You tout his 18 and 11 average for the series, but really you're proving Simmons' point because he only eclipsed 18 points twice in the series in the two great games that juiced his series numbers. And you shouldn't really tout an 18 point average when he averaged 20 in the regular season, and it's not like his assist average skyrocketed at the same time.There's a reason an average is called an average. Do you think Kobe scored 35 every game this year? He had games in the 20s and in the teens. Would you say his 81 and 62 point games "juiced" his average? Of course they did. But again, it's an average.
- You identify game 4 as a bad game, and game 3 as a good game. I think you would be hard pressed, based on the numbers presented alone, to prove any significantly different statistical difference in a game when he scored only 4 points (2 baskets!) less, had one more assist (one basket!), and the same number of rebounds. The point is, if game 4 is a bad game, then so is game 3.I didn't particularly feel like giving a game-by-game recap. In this case, the numbers I presented don't tell the full story. In Game 3, Nash dished a couple key assists down the stretch. He also held Sam Cassell to 2-for-10 shooting and only 6 points (and Cassell got benched as a result). Most importantly, Phoenix won the game. Conversely, Cassell exploded in Game 4 (28 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists), Nash wasn't able to control the tempo down the stretch, and the Suns lost. So yeah, I stick by my good game/bad game descriptions.
- Players are always, ALWAYS, judged by their talents. A good game is relative. For a player of Nash's offensive caliber, 14 and 8 is not a good game. It's, in fact, below average for him. 12 and 10, 8 and 11, same thing. Not good Steve Nash games. Games 5 and 6, despite scoring below his average, are at least closer to what the man does in your average regular season game.Here's Kobe's scoring numbers for the seven games he played in the playoffs: 22, 29, 17, 24, 29, 50, and 24. Only once in seven games did he reach or exceed his regular season average. He scored 18 below his average once, 13 below his average once, 11 below his average twice, and six below his average twice. So did Kobe have six "bad" games? It would seem so, based on your rationale. Based solely on his talent, and his ability to score, and the Suns' less than stellar defensive abilities, he should have easily exceeded his average every game. Right?
If you are the Boston Celtics, and you get Nash's games 2 through 6 out of Delonte West, you are definitely thrilled. But if you are the Suns and have Steve Nash, reigning two-time MVP, those are not good games. Those are below average games. I love watching Nash play, but I don't think he's shown MVP form in the playoffs besides for a few games. How many times were you watching and thinking, "Wow, that's the best player on the court right now." And I know that MVP and Best Player on Court are different beasts entirely, but still. I think that warrants mentioning.According to Elliot Kalb, known in basketball circles as "Mr. Stats", players typically suffer a 15 to 20 percent statistical drop-off in the playoffs. This happens for a variety of reasons, but mostly because a team is able to develop and employ specific defensive strategies over the course of a seven-game series. Kobe had six (out of seven) "sub-par" scoring games. Lebron James had several games in which he scored below his regular season average, or dished out fewer assists, or grabbed fewer rebounds. That's just the nature of the beast in the NBA Playoffs. The Clippers used a trapping, double-teaming strategy against Nash. He was still able to orchestrate two great games, and four other solid (if "below average") performances. If what Nash brings to the Suns could be measured by numbers alone, that would mean something. But great players, MVP-caliber players, bring more than statistics. They inspire their teams and lead them to victory. And that's exactly what Nash did.