by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

Over the last few years, the MVP race in the NBA has turned into one big PR campaign by players, coaches, teams and entire fan bases.

In virtually every gym around the L, you’ll hear fans chant “MVP” for the star of the team; the truly special talents even hear the chants in enemy territory (see: Derrick Rose last night in Los Angeles). As for teams and coaches, they go directly to the voting members of the press to present the case for their guys.

Head coach Rick Carlisle strategically used the Mavs’ lone trip to Madison Square Garden this season to push Dirk Nowitzki’s candidacy, following a win over the Knicks on Wednesday night (during which Dirk put up 29 points and snatched 11 boards.)

CBS Sports has the quotes:

“I sense that he’s building each game on the last and that we’re headed the right direction with this thing,” Carlisle said. “And talk about MVP candidates, if you look at what happened to us when he was out, if you look at his plus-minus, I think he’s the number one plus-minus guy in the the entire league. Based on that, he should be the MVP. That means he’s more valuable to our team than any other star is to theirs. And so his presence on the floor and his healthy presence is huge for us.”

“Dirk’s a unique guy,” Carlisle said. “There’s nobody who’s worked on developing his game more than he has in the history of this league. I put him up against (Larry) Bird and all these guys who have the great work ethics and reputations as hard workers. There’s a reason the ball goes in the basket. That’s because he’s great and he’s put in the time and the hours.”

Nowitzki is a strong candidate to win the second Maurice Podoloff trophy of his career, but injuries have slowed down his momentum. The competition for the award this season is extremely fierce, with Kevin Durant, DRose, Amar’e Stoudemire and LeBron James being some of the other leading candidates.

We’re not even at the All-Star break yet, and already we must deal with this issue. Prepare for things to get much worse as the season moves into the latter stages.