Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki is NBA's MVP

Perhaps the Mavericks' first-round playoff failure shouldn't taint all that Nowitzki and his team accomplished from November to April, but it has and it will forever. Dirk Nowitzki, 2007 NBA MVP, will always be the first-ever No. 1 seed bowing to an 8-seed in a best-of-7 series. Does he deserve to be MVP? I think so.

Excellent article by By Warren Blatt

Because the Dallas Mavericks had a disappointing showing in the playoffs, questions regarding Dirk Nowitzki's selection as the NBA's MVP have started to pop up. But, the fact remains it is an award based on the regular season, not the postseason.

Granted, Nowitzki did not come through in the first round of the playoffs for the Mavericks, who were stunningly eliminated by Golden State in six games. Once again, playoff performances do not figure into the voting for the NBA's awards.

The Mavericks finished the 2006-07 campaign with a league- and franchise-best 67-15 record. They were the top seed in the Western Conference and owned home- court advantage throughout the postseason. Unfortunately for Dallas, the eighth-seeded Warriors were hot and proved to be a bad matchup.

A six-time All-Star, Nowitzki led the Mavericks in scoring (24.6 ppg) and rebounding (8.9 rpg) in 78 games during the regular season. He dished out a career-best 3.4 assists per game and shot 50.2 percent from the floor, including an impressive 41.6 percent from beyond the arc, and 90.4 percent from the charity stripe.

There is no doubt that Nowitzki was the top player for the best team in the league, but the emergence of fellow All-Star Josh Howard and the solid play of Devin Harris, Jerry Stackhouse and Jason Terry did have a huge impact on Dallas' success.

The 28-year-old Nowitzki was the focus of the opposition's game plan, as teams concentrated on him defensively, which made life on the court easier for Harris, Howard, Stackhouse and Terry. Nowitzki, who was 10th in the NBA in scoring and 11th in rebounding, saw a double-team virtually every time he touched the ball.

Did the seven-foot Nowitzki deserve to take home MVP honors? Was he the most valuable player for his team during the regular season?

The answer is yes, with an interesting theory. While Nowitzki's buddy, Steve Nash, again had an incredible year, the fact remains he was not going to be the first player since Larry Bird (1984-86) to win the award three straight years. Wilt Chamberlain (1966-68) and Bill Russell (1961-63) are the only other players to win the MVP three straight years.

A third straight MVP would have put Nash into super-elite status. Is he a Hall of Famer? Probably, but not among the greatest to ever play the game.

Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest player of all-time and a six-time NBA champion, won the MVP five times (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998), while Magic Johnson captured the honor three times (1987, 1989, 1990). Jordan and Johnson never took home the honor three straight years.

Nash, who finished second in this year's voting, averaged 18.6 points and a league-best 11.6 assists in 76 games for the Phoenix Suns, who finished 61-21 during the campaign and captured their third straight Pacific Division title. The 6-3 Nash is the best pure point guard in the league and makes all of his teammates better because of his incredible play-making ability.

Don't argue Kobe Bryant or LeBron James this year. Obviously, Bryant and James are two of the best players in the NBA, but their teams did not have the success that Dallas or Phoenix enjoyed this past season. Tim Duncan had a great year for San Antonio, but there was a reason Dallas finished nine games ahead of the Spurs in the Southwest Division standings.

A strong argument can be made for Nash. The Santa Clara product did it all again for the Suns, but was he really going to receive the award for a third straight year?

The fact is that Nowitzki was the best player for the team with the most wins during the regular season.

If the Mavericks finished with the same amount of wins as the Suns, maybe Nash would have hoisted his third straight MVP trophy. But because of Dallas' incredible regular season, Nowitzki deservedly got the nod over his best friend.

Is it a hollow feeling following the playoff disaster? Probably. But, again, it is a regular season honor and he was the best during the regular season.


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