Melo V. Bron

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February 10, 2013 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

Within the American judicial system is a notion known as Stare Decisis, meaning “the decision remains”.  This applies to appealing towards past verdicts in trying to determine the outcome of a current trial.  The idea behind the phrase being that the courts should follow the precedent and take cue from the past trial in reference.  Stare Decisis is the antithesis of judicial activism in that it seeks to maintain a constant and similar outcome for similar instances.  As with all things in life, it appears that the NBA also has its own variation of stare decisis.

In 1993 Charles Barkley won the coveted league MVP award over his eventual Finals opponent, Michael Jordan, even though Jordan had the better year.  Michael Jordan was the better player, yes, but the Round Mound was infinitely more valuable; that is why Barkley won the award over Jordan, because the trophy is given to the most valuable player and not necessarily the best.  Exactly twenty years later we have once again come across a similar situation where we must answer the question of who is more deserving of the MVP award: the best player on the best team or the player most intimately linked to his team’s success?

I truly believe that this year’s MVP award will be given to either Lebron James, seeking his fourth such award, or Carmelo Anthony, looking to become the second Knick player, and first since captain Willis Reed in 1970, to win the prized trophy.  Without question Lebron is the best player in the NBA, and by extension the world.  However, the Heat are still a playoff caliber team with players like Dwyane Wade, Chris “insert derisive name here” Bosh, and Ray Allen.  Melo, on the other hand is without a doubt the reason why the Knicks are faring as well as they have been.  If you take Anthony out of the starting lineup who do you start at power forward for the first half of the year, Kurt Thomas?  How about Steve Novak?  Or maybe even Marcus Camby if they’re really desperate.  The point is, the Knicks don’t start 8-1 without Melo, and don’t make it to 32-16, as they are now.   

Yes, Lebron is statically better then Carmelo, even with all my biases I wouldn’t insult your intelligence and try to convince you otherwise.  But look at it this way, Melo has elevated his game to a new height this year and the team is following his example with their grit, determination and all-hands-on-deck mentality.  Carmelo has officially become a team player, and for the first time in a long time, the Knicks are better for it.  Carmelo has done something that no player in the post-Ewing dark days of the franchise has been able to do: make New Yorkers excited about Knicks basketball again.  For all his talent, Amar’e Stoudemire seems relieved that the burden of being “the guy” isn’t squared on his shoulders anymore.[1]  As much as he is a $100 million man, he isn’t the player who will lead us to something I would gladly trade my 5th, 7th, 8th, and 11th best nights of college for: a championship.[2]  Carmelo has not only elevated his game this year by scoring nearly 30 pts. per game, and finally giving defense a shot, he’s elevated the game of his teammates.  Can King James say the same?  No, no he can’t.

The Knicks are on pace for a 55 win season, their best record in over a decade.  While no one can say that they’d be atrociously worse off without Carmelo Anthony, common sense would make it seem so.  Carmelo’s true value to the team is showing off in two ways: winning at home, and beating up on the bad teams in the league.  A good team does both of those things, and before this year, the Knicks hadn’t done that in a long time.  It’s no coincidence that once Linsanity was shipped to Houston and Amar’e found out that he has glass legs; the Knicks have been playing their best ball in years, all with Melo leading the team.  Without Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks wouldn’t have a potential scoring champion, but more importantly someone who can rally the troops and drive his teammates to perform better than they have ever been.  If Lebron could do this, shouldn’t the Heat be more than 1.5 games ahead of the Knicks?

In 1993, a similar situation presented itself to the league; should the league grant the best player in the game (Jordan) the MVP award, or the player who was mostly literally the most valuable player on his team (Barkley)?  In that situation the league chose value over skill and they made the right choice.  Had the award been for best player, than yes, Jordan deserved it in 1993, and Lebron James deserves it in 2013, but remember, MVP stands for Most Valuable Player, not Most Versatile or Most Venerable Player.  So to all concerned, I call upon the precedent of 1993 to let the decision remain in giving the award to a player, who for an entire season is more valuable to his team than any other player in the league, instead of picking the easy choice in the best player.  It’s easy (comparatively of course) to be the best, but being the best doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the most important player to a team.  Being the most valuable, now that takes skill.

For your viewing pleasure here are Jordan’s and Barkley’s 1993 stats:

Rank Player

Age

Tm

First place votes

Pts Won

G

MP

PTS

TRB

AST

STL

BLK

FG%

3P%

FT%

WS

WS/48

1

Charles Barkley

29

PHO

59.0

835

76

37.6

25.6

12.2

5.1

1.6

1.0

.520

.305

.765

14.4

.242

3

Michael Jordan

29

CHI

13.0

565

78

39.3

32.6

6.7

5.5

2.8

0.8

.495

.352

.837

17.2

.270


[1] Probably so he can focus on his European-inspired fashion line.

[2] Keep in mind that infrequency is a huge factor in this hypothetical trade-off.  The last time the Knicks won a championship, the Vietnam war was still raging on.

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