Posted May 06, 2013

Writer explains why his MVP vote went to Carmelo Anthony over LeBron James

Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Miami Heat, New York Knicks
LeBron James finished a vote shy of a unanimous MVP selection

Carmelo Anthony (right) kept LeBron James from a unanimous MVP selection. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

On Sunday, LeBron James won his fourth MVP award in five seasons. The controversy: It wasn’t a unanimous selection.

James received 1,207 points and 120 out of a possible 121 first-place votes, with Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony receiving one vote. James beat out, in order: Thunder forward Kevin Durant (765 points), Anthony (475 points), Clippers guard Chris Paul (289 points) and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (184 points).

“It was probably a writer out of New York who didn’t give me that vote,” James said Sunday of Anthony’s first-place vote. “We know the history between the Heat and Knicks so I get it.”

He couldn’t have been more wrong. On Monday, Boston Globe writer Gary Washburn explained why he voted for Anthony over James.

When the voting was announced Sunday afternoon, I was flabbergasted to learn I was the lone voter among 121 to not give LeBron a first-place vote, truly believing Anthony, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and perhaps even Kobe Bryant would snag a first-place vote or two….

The perception that I knew the other 120 voters cast their first-place votes for LeBron and that I went against the grain as some kind of statement is inaccurate. I have covered the league for years, watched Jordan lose the 1996-97 MVP to Karl Malone, and understand that for one season, certain players just elevate their games. I thought Anthony was the most valuable player to his team this season, not the best player in the league.

James, 28, emerged as the landslide favorite for his second consecutive MVP as he led Miami to a league-best 66-16 record that included a 27-game winning streak. The nine-time All-Star averaged 26.8 points, eight rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.7 steals. He shot a career-high 56.5 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from three-point range. James also led the league in Player Efficiency Rating for the sixth straight season.

Anthony, also 28, led the league in scoring (28.7 points per game) and helped the Knicks capture their first Atlantic Division title in 19 years despite injuries to Amar’e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler. The Knicks, 54-28, won 16 of 18 games to close the regular season.

Here’s more from Washburn:

If you were to take Anthony off the Knicks, they are a lottery team. James plays with two other All-Stars, the league’s all-time 3-point leader, a defensive stalwart, and a fearless point guard. The Heat are loaded.

If LeBron was taken away from the Heat, they still would be a fifth or sixth seed. He is the best player of this generation, a multifaceted superstar with the physical prowess of Adonis, but I chose to reward a player who has lifted his team to new heights.

No player has ever been a unanimous MVP selection. In 2001, Shaquille O’Neal earned 120 of 121 possible first-place votes; Allen Iverson received the other first-place vote.

The Point Forward’s Rob Mahoney laid out the case for James as MVP this season and an SI.com panel unanimously selected him for the award in April.

James previously won the award in 2009 and 2010 with the Cavaliers and in 2012 with the Heat. James was also named 2012 Finals MVP after the Heat beat the Thunder for the first title of his career.

108 comments
ApuGarnesh
ApuGarnesh

Hello there SI writer. Shaq won the MVP award in 2000, not 2001. AI won it in 2001

TarekLamar
TarekLamar

- for me is MVP define as "Who would you choose at first for your team on a ball game?" 

- I definitly would choose LBJ

m.guszak
m.guszak

There is such conformity today in this country. Whichever athlete has the most commercials and endorsements is entitled to status beholding a god. How many people in here think the Heat does not make the playoffs if they don't have James? Of course they do. Now, how many people here think OKC does not make the playoffs without Durant? There is no way they do. How many people think the Knicks are a shadow of what they were this year without Anthony?  I guess we need to clarify what "valuable" means? Is it the most hyped, the most talented, or the most essential to their team's success. If it is the last one, James is not MVP.

CliffPfenning
CliffPfenning

Love this thought process. MVP, not just best player. Kobe would have been in there, too, because of all the team in-fighting, coaching change, scrutiny of a big market. 

SeanMaguire
SeanMaguire

The writer was wrong to cast his vote for anyone other than Lebron James.  His explanation has ZERO merit.  It insinuates that Lebron, who by virtue of being the best player in the league, is also the most valuable player in the league, should be penalized because he is surrounded by other great players.  Conversely, Carmelo Anthony, who is surrounded by a crap team, should be rewarded for it, because their ineptitude makes him look that much better.

I'm a NY'er and a Miami hater, but c'mon, Lebron James is on a different planet when it comes to talent.

EastCoastMike
EastCoastMike

Did they change the award to "Best Player in the League"? If so, then this sports writer was wrong. If not, then more writers should have voted for Carmello. 

Carmello is the only reason the Knicks are a 2-seed. Washburn's vote was correct..


SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

It should be the most valuable player in the league, not just a good player on a terrible team.


If you were to pick a single player to play a season over again the way they played before who would you pick?   Certainly not shot chucking, no defense Carmello!

petergard
petergard

Actually it is simple and we don't even need sportswriters..  The world valuable has to translate into filthy lucre so the award should go to the highest paid player - the only issue being should it be based only on salary or include bonuses, promotions and other goodies as well.

StevenKeys
StevenKeys

When you drop "nine-time All-Star" and sabermetric tripe like "Player Efficiency Rating" (NBA version of  'passer efficiency rating') into your case for LeBron's entitlement to a unanimous MVP vote, your case can't be too strong anyway.

Ben should've quoted Washburn's explanation (for CA vote) from his ESPN interview.  Very convincing. 

Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

I agree totally. There is a misconception by sportswriters over what the MVP Player award is for. Is it the most valuable to his team...or is it the BEST PLAYER in the league. In this case, I believe it refers to the most valuable to his team. James is like the writer said, 1/3 of a superstar team...where as Anthony IS THE TEAM.

So.....120 voters got it completely wrong.......Hmmmm. 

tigacainta
tigacainta

I'm Celtics Fan who also followed Magic, Jordan & Barkley .. I think LBJ's MVP award is most deserved.. there's no contention that he is the Most Talented, almost complete skill set & consumate Pro teammate.. from his Cavs stint to Miami 2013 campaign.. he is by far lording over the leagues superstars..


as far as the lone non LBJ 1st place vote.. it does make a good dissection on how should MVP be justified or even defined.. its crazy to crucify that writer yet it was his own vote.. so let it be.. I'm sure LBJ trophy still worth the same than his previous one.. the appreciation of his input as NBA Pro are still cut above the norm =)

mike8
mike8

The Heat's other players are produce because James allows them to do so. All they have are a bunch of perimeter players that can not defend. Wade is hurt all the time but Bosh does hold it down when asked. The Knicks have one of if not the best defensive center in the league. They also have a bunch of jump shooters but Smith can carry the load on occasion. The Knicks did not nose dive when Melo missed a few games late in the season. The Heat, minus James is not much better than the Knicks. James makes the big shots, grabs the big rebounds and defends the best player when the game is on the line. Melo only shoots and since they have little to no low post scoring, he is not making the offense flow better for anyone.

thehall96
thehall96

I absolutely agree with Washburn's reasoning. The title of the award is "Most Valuable Player." There is no question in my mind that Anthony was more valuable to his team than James, for the same reasons stated above. If you want to change it to "Best Player in the League" then yes, no question it belongs to James.

ThomasShoe
ThomasShoe

This man needs to have his vote taken away. Give it to someone who makes sense.

KevinC1
KevinC1

I wish they'd do this for Baseball HOF voting.


PDXMike
PDXMike

I agree with the reasoning, although not the choice (I'd say Durant).  Is the award for most valuable to David Stern and the NBA, or most valuable to the player's team?  I think it *should* be most valuable to his team.  When Lebron was in Cleveland, this would be a deserving award.  Take him away from Miami, and they still have a decent team...

ClarkLi
ClarkLi

This argument is foolish.  Here is the reality of situation - Washburn, whether you like it or not, has been granted the right to vote.  Since the league doesn't clearly define what is meant by the MVP award, Washburn is well within his right to vote based on his stated criteria.  And LeBron is well within his right to disagree with Washburn and state that he feels he deserves to be unanimous.  Keep in mind that since no other player in the history of the NBA has even been a unanimous MVP, that distinction does matter.  There is a difference between best and perfect and therefore, LeBron is not gripping (if you think he is in fact gripping, I for one, don't think he is) over nothing.

The problem, if you think there is one, really lies in the fact that the NBA does not clearly define what the criteria of the "MVP Award" is.  Then again, another way to look this is to say - the problem is that the people who get to vote, and by extension, bball fans and really anyone commenting on this believe that the criteria of the MVP Award is up to the eye of the beholder.  What I am trying to say is - why do we even try to define it as something other than the award for the "Best Player"?  I understand the that the "V" stands for valuable and the word itself in this context can be vague.  I don't care what the name of the award is, semantics aside, it is the award for the best player, period!  Let me put it this way - by defining it as "the award that goes to the player that means the most to his team", thus saying the guy who elevated his team the most, or yet another way to put it,  "the best player to make the most out of a bad team" - is to say that the MVP award is the Miss Congeniality Award in a beauty pagent that doesn't award the Miss Universe Award.  Think about that for a minute - the Miss Congeniality Award goes to the person who has the best personality ("most valuable") but isn't the most beautiful (plays on a bad team).  So 'Melo is the Miss Congeniality Award winner in a league that doesn't have an award for a Miss Universe by Washburn's or anybody else who thinks it's "most valuable to his team" type argument -  anybody think there is something wrong with not having a "Best" award?  If so, then there really isn't away other way, name terminology aside, to think of the MVP Award in the NBA as anything but the "Best Player" in the league - which is clearly in this case LeBron.  

dhzlatar
dhzlatar

If Lebron were still in Cleveland and he had the same statistic year as the present without the cast of player that he has in Miami, but Cleveland is the 2 or 3 seed. On the other hand, Carmelo as a champion scorer put NY as the highest seed. Who is the MVP?

leehwgoc
leehwgoc

Much ado about nothing, really.  If 10 people didn't vote for James instead of just 1 (and of course James still wins by a landslide anyway), there would be no story at all here.  Not even the illusion of one (which is basically what this is).

astrofan94
astrofan94

So Lebron won the award and got 99.2% of the vote total, which at least ties (assuming the same number of voters in place during that referenced Shaq year, if not he got a higher percentage of the vote) the highest percentage of the MVP vote ever, yet we're upset b/c it wasn't 100% unanimous (which it never was even for Jordan, Russell, Magic, Bird, etc.)?

Must be a slow news day.

CJ215
CJ215

I'm from Boston, and I firmly believe that anyone who thinks Carmelo is a more valuable player than Lebron should stop covering basketball.

JasonMacBride
JasonMacBride

I'm a Knicks fan and LBJ deserved the award. It should have been unanimous. This year he was the best and the most valuable player.

ThomasCox
ThomasCox

well...if thats the case...why don't we just get rid of the voting process for the next 5-6 years or so, and just hand all 6 awards for the upcomming seasons to bron bron then?   why the charade if everyone already knows he's better than everyone else?

JonathanD
JonathanD

So the new definition of "MVP" is the best player with the worst teammates?

AaronDunckel
AaronDunckel

BEST RATIONALE OF MVP AWARD

DanaBunner 6 hours ago...        You vote for the Most Valuable Player in the League!  Not the Most Valuable Player to his team.  Consider a scenario where you have a team which can win 30 games.  You can now add a single player to that team, to elevate it as high as possible.  Select that player based upon their 2012-2013 performance, both defensively and offensively.   There is not a single GM in the league who would pick Carmelo over LeBron.  There is absolutely no question that LeBron was heads and shoulders above every other player.  But you can always trust at least one voter to not understand the question.  This twit penalized LeBron because he has Wade and Bosh on his team.  That makes no sense at all.

bdyftns
bdyftns

I agree with Washburn. Lebron is the best player but not the MVP. Miami has won a Championship without him and with him. Miami is stacked, bench and all. 

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

aagin I see people saying oh washburn should never be able to vote for MVP again becuase he didn't select James as his MVP.  To that person Rodger Lodge, shut up, gee what is your claim to fame a goofy dating show, that unleashed the wodden and alconic Jason Stewart, former memeber of the XR4RTI crew.  I mean at least Washburn has covered basketball, unlike Hickman who shouldn't have been given a vote in the first place, as he wasn't part of CNN's basketball show and this was before the ill fated CNN/SI

doublejtrain68
doublejtrain68

Who gives a bowl of rat vomit if LeBron didn't get the unanimous vote? He won the award, didn't he? The writer had a valid argument about voting the way he did. He's right, without LeBron, the Heat are still a solid playoff team. Without Melo, the Knicks may well be in the lottery or just barely sneak into the playoffs if a few people step up. Total non-story, if you ask me. 

huckfinnagain
huckfinnagain

I don't feel it's fair to players if their chances of winning the award change based on factors outside their control such as how good or bad their particular team is.  I find similarly find the Heisman Trophy voting skewed in favor of the best player on the best team.  

In my view, the correct way to vote on this if you were starting a new league over from scratch, who would you draft first if you know you'll get that same performance again the next year.  Value is often determined best by creating market conditions, even if it's an imaginary one.

JonathanD
JonathanD

@m.guszak So if you had Carmelo and Lebron switch teams, Lebron would suddenly be MVP just because of who his teammates were?

MVP isn't who is the most hyped or the most talented.  It is who actually plays the best and contributes most to their team's success that season.  Lebron did more this year in every single aspect of basketball than Melo did.  He was a better shooter, a better passer, a better rebounder, a better ballhandler, a better defender, and a more essential component of his team's offense and defense, and he did all of that better all season long.  Who your teammates are should not determine whether or not you are MVP.  Otherwise, Lebron would have won MVP for all 7 seasons in Cleveland.

Mike26
Mike26

@SeanMaguire Sean, you're obviously completely incapable of understanding "most valuable" and "opinion".  Please refrain from posting and furthering embarrassing yourself, family, friends and city.

RyanMcLaughlin
RyanMcLaughlin

@SeanMaguire LeBron's ego is as big as the city of New York. He will NEVER be in the same category as MJ. Period. He's a crybaby....you can't even touch him playing defense or its a foul for Christ's sake! 

snwbrdwint
snwbrdwint

@EastCoastMike Exactly.  It's not the MOP (Most Outstanding Player), it's Most Valuable....which leaves a lot of room for writers/voters to interpret "value" in different ways.  Given this writer's interpretation, his vote is very much justified.

Mike26
Mike26

@SukeMadiq Suke:  you're obviously completely incapable of understanding "most valuable" and "opinion".  Please refrain from posting and furthering embarrassing yourself, family, friends and tribe.

magicalhorton
magicalhorton

@Wisconsin Death Trip 

   You people are woefully misinformed. Anthony is mainly a scorer, and does so at sub optimal efficiency(still good efficiency though, especially this year). Tyson Chandler is one of the very best players int he league, and is very much responsible for the success of the teams he plays for.. You fools give it the eyeball test and say "OOOOH LOOK AT CARMELO'S FLASHY OFFENSIVE MOVES" and just don't really have any understanding of winning basketball, whatsoever. Sorry.

People who value sabermetrics will always be better evaluators of talent than people who don't. End of story.

RyanMcLaughlin
RyanMcLaughlin

@tigacainta He's a whiny little Mama's boy. MJ, Rodman, Pippen, Bird, McHale, etc. would have their way with LBJ

JonathanD
JonathanD

@ThomasCox If he actually is the best player for the next 6 years, then wouldn't he deserve it?

Bill Russell won the MVP 4 times in 5 years.  He had a STACKED supporting cast, with 6 Hall of Famers on his team at some point during those years.  Yet he still won MVP, because he was the best player in the league and the dominant player on the dominant team.  Put him on any other team, and they would be among the new favorites - just like Lebron.  Put Carmelo on any other team, and they are asking whether or not they'll make it past the 1st round.

JonathanD
JonathanD

@AaronDunckel Don't worry, I'm sure he voted for Lebron all 7 years that he played with Cleveland, right?

JonathanD
JonathanD

@bdyftns Miami has won a championship without him?  With, what, TWO of their current players, both of whom were hobbled all season?

AaronDunckel
AaronDunckel

@bdyftns 

Its a League MVP award...not team MVP.... whos the most overall valuable player in the league... which player could you add to a 0 level team and get the most improvement... its LeBron

Just look at Cleveland Cavs in the 2000s

JonathanD
JonathanD

@doublejtrain68 Cleveland would have been in the lottery every single year Lebron played with them if not for Lebron (just look at their last 3 years).  So did this writer vote Lebron the MVP every one of those seasons?  Or did he vote guys, like, say, Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce or Tim Duncan, who were part of stacked lineups?

JonathanD
JonathanD

@RyanMcLaughlin @SeanMaguire lmao - you know that Carmelo shoots more free throws than Lebron, right?  Lebron led the league in field goals this year - Carmelo only got the scoring title because he shoots so many free throws every game.

Mike26
Mike26

@magicalhorton @Wisconsin Death Trip Let's make this easy:  take Anthony out of NY all season and they win 20-25 games.  Take LeBron out of Miami and they win 45-55 games anyway.

That's how you come up with MVP - not best player.  Why are people so stupid nowadays?

bdyftns
bdyftns

@joelwexler @huckfinnagain No. The MVP isn't always the best player in Basketball. Steve Nash won it twice and wasn't the best player by far. And the list goes on.

JonathanD
JonathanD

@bdyftns @JonathanD @ThomasCox bdyftns - please do the homework yourself.  During the era where Russell was winning his MVP's, he was a better overall player than Wilt, and Wilt knew it too.  Wilt took a rest of the defensive side of the ball a lot during his early years, and didn't know how to make his teammates better.  He openly modeled many things after Russell over time, and eventually became not only a great individual player but one who could help his team win championships (much like the progression that Jordan and Lebron have showed).

dhzlatar
dhzlatar

@bdyftns @JonathanD @ThomasCox That´s a good point. Chamberlain won the MVP 4 times and Bill Russel 5 times. On my opinion, Russell was much complete player than Wilt and knew how to play with his team. Chamberlain was a force with Phily, but when he arrived to LA Lakers, a team with 4 future HOF, Wilt still needed a couple of year to won the Championship.