Why Russell Westbrook Is The Only Reason Steph Curry Won’t Be The Unanimous MVP Brandon Caldwell April 12, 2016 Basketball, Sports 1 Comment Let’s play a game of facts, shall we? In the now sixty-year history of the NBA MVP trophy, it has been won by point guards only five times (in order: Bob Cousy, Magic Johnson, Steve Nash, Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry). It has been noted as an award given to the best player on the best team in the NBA, which basically meant that if your team somehow secured the one-seed and you were the primary benefactor of said team, you had a chance to win the MVP award. The STASHED recently compiled a list of the greatest MVP seasons post-peak Jordan and the impending victory by Stephen Curry leads the pack. Continuing with our game of facts: only three players have come one vote shy of winning an unanimous MVP award. The first, Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000 after he won the scoring title (29.7 PPG) lost because Fred Hickman thought Allen Iverson did more with less. Kevin Garnett finished with 99.1% of the vote during his 2003-04 opus of a season in Minnesota. The third, LeBron James in 2012-13 led the Heat to a gaudy 27-game winning streak in the season and finished with his highest PER ever. In his most well-rounded season from efficiency all the way to completeness of team, a voter from New York decided to vote Carmelo Anthony as the MVP — because Melo did more with less in leading the Knicks to a 54-28 record, their best season since they made the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals. If LeBron couldn’t do it and Shaq couldn’t pull the achievement off, why won’t Stephen Curry make it happen this year? Two things: precedent and Russell Westbrook. Steph Curry will win the NBA MVP, but Russell Westbrook will be the reason why he won’t win it unanimously. The precedent factor sits because even in Michael Jordan’s first full-year back from a gambling suspen — basetball sabbatical, he won the regular season MVP, the Finals MVP and the All-Star Game MVP, only feats accomplished by Willis Reed and Shaquille O’Neal. Even as the Bulls went 72-10 and rode off into the sunset of 1996 winning 87 (!) of 100 played basketball games, Jordan still wasn’t voted the unanimous MVP. Penny Hardaway of the Magic was Jordan’s closet competitor with two first place votes followed by the 1993-94 MVP, Hakeem Olajuwon and Karl Malone with one apiece. It’s as close as MJ got to a unanimous MVP award. Curry, by comparison has not only made a case for the most impressive follow-up to an MVP season ever (23.8 PPG to 29.2 PPG, 286 3PM to 392 3PM), he’s also helped make the rest of the league and some of the more insane statistical accomplishments irrelevant. Should the Warriors finish the Grizzlies tomorrow night, Curry will pretty much cement himself with one of the more “cheat-code-how-in-the-hell-did-he-accomplish-this-how-did-he-break-the-game” seasons in league history. And somehow Russell Westbrook’s effort will largely be ignored. Kawhi Leonard is the best player on the San Antonio Spurs, the second best team in the NBA. He’s averaging career highs in PPG and could easily win his second straight Defensive Player of the Year award. It’s silent assassin work with him, the lug nut on a car that should have over 300,000 miles yet thanks to different kits and engine parts, it runs as if it just came off the lot. Westbrook, even positioned next to Kevin Durant in the front court has managed to surpass him in terms of league talk. For fans of slashing guards, men and women and children born of a certain NBA fandom that appreciates someone getting dunked on or being so athletically gifted that its absurd, Westbrook is their favorite player. After years of people denouncing Russ for everything he wasn’t as a point guard, he turned into Iverson one year (he won the scoring title last year with 28.1 PPG despite MISSING 25 games) and turned into hyperactive, more athletic Magic Johnson the next. Westbrook fought off all of the notions that occurred when Durant came back fully healthy. Carrying the burden of being the best 1A in the league, “0 Appreciation” turned into a master stroke in efficiency. His season is over as the Thunder have announced he’s not playing in their Tuesday night finale against San Antonio. His final touch of the season? Putting up a triple-double against the Lakers in the same amount of time as an episode of The Simpsons without commercials. Binge watching Westbrook highlights elicits the same rushing calls of jets and bombers diving in and blowing up their targets. Curry may be having a season of firsts but Westbrook’s managed to turn the idea of someone outside of Oscar Robertson averaging a triple-double into him and him alone. The prospect once belonged to LeBron James given how often he always seems to find himself at a double-double with only 9 assists at the close of games. Now it’s Westbrook’s, whose teams are an astounding 18 and 0 in games in which he reaches the milestone. The 18 triple-doubles alone are the most since the ABA/NBA merger in 1976-77 and puts him third all-time in single season triple-doubles behind the likes of Magic and Wilt Chamberlain. To date, Westbrook’s 2015-16 season is the only in NBA history where someone averaged near 24 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists and 2 steals. Somehow he’ll sway some voters especially in the Midwest and the South who may do their best to avoid falling for Steph Curry love. Because Steph Curry winning a unanimous MVP would break all types of precedent and some basketball writers, much like Pro Football Hall of Fame voters and Baseball Hall of Fame voters love to prove points like this. In a world where the Golden State Warriors have taken decades of NBA history, looked it in its face and slapped a Jordan Cry Meme on it, there’s one bit of perfection they won’t get. Because Russell Westbrook exists in the same world, and even with the third leading scorer in the league on his team, basically is the second guard on the All-NBA First Team. Curry will win the NBA MVP, but Russell Westbrook will be the reason why he won’t win it unanimously. Image courtesy of NBA. 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