The MVP’s MVP

by April 07, 2008
9

By Vincent Thomas

The other day I woke up to my cell-phone vibrating. It startled me out of a dream in which the very last image was Kobe, sitting on a throne as LeBron cut his hair. It was the last scene in a night long dream featuring Kobe, LeBron and Chris Paul, brought together to decide — for themselves — the official MVP of the 2007-2008 season. Luckily for you, I remember this dream verbatim (wink). Peep how it went down.

You know how dreams abruptly begin during random moments, right? Mine began with Kobe bringing Chris Paul a drink on a porch….

Kobe: Here ya go, lil’ man.

Chris: Man, what’s this?

Kobe: Paul Masson.

Paul: Man, I said Patron, not Paul Masson … Paul Masson? Who am I? Ira Newble? …

(LeBron enters, carrying a king’s throne on his massive back, wearing the same outfit he wore on the cover of Vogue, finishes his conversation and hangs up his cell.)

Kobe: Nice throne, King James. Who was that on the celly, Giselle?

LeBron: Nah, man. Haven’t talked to her since the photo-shoot. Matter fact, I didn’t even talk to her at the photo-shoot. I like my women a little curvier.

Paul: A real woman. Hey, speaking of real women and curves, I think I’m crushin’ on America Ferrera, these days. She really…

Kobe: Aight, enough of all that. Let’s get down to business.

LeBron: For real – what’s this all about?

Kobe: I’ll tell you … the other day, I was watching CNN and hearing all this rhetoric about how the Democrats should broker some agreement for a nomination before the National Convention, so as not leave it up to these people they call “super delegates” to decide the nominee, which would be a circus. I don’t want — we don’t want — this MVP-thing to get out of hand, so, I thought we could do the same. Before we let these newspaper and website “super delegates” decide for us, we need to come to a consensus ourselves. So, that’s why I called you guys here.

LeBron: Aight, but KG. You invited KG, right?

Kobe: I called KG and extended an invite, provided he brought Paul with him and they came as a tandem. KG demurred and said that he’d be fine with that. That’s when I rescinded the invite. I dig how he’s influenced his teammates and filled that roster with passion and accountability, but, in all honesty, we can make similar MVP cases for Pierce and Tom Thibodeau. I just haven’t seen KG “carry” that Celtics squad to too many vics. It was a tough stance to take, but I think he understood.

Paul: True. I don’t wanna be presumptuous, but I’ll just start off by humbly stating that I don’t think there is any team that has played as great as my Hornets while relying on one player as heavily as my Hornets rely on me. No disrespect to you, ‘Bron, but, although I believe your squad is the only team in the league that’s as reliant on it’s Franchise as my Hornets, y’all dudes might win 45 games … in the East. Meanwhile, my rag-tag squad is looking at 57-60 wins and a Top 3 seed — in the WEST. And, with apologies to Mo Pete and Melvin Ely, it’s pretty much all because of me.

LeBron: Na, I feel you. Like, Steve Nash had Amare and Matrix and wasn’t nearly putting up the kind of stats your laying down; and he won back-to-back MVPs. Sometimes, though, people don’t even mention you in the discussion. It’s tragic.

LeBron: Bottom line, though: nobody has done what I’m doing on the court.

Kobe and Paul (in unison): Oscar Robertson.

LeBron: Alright, well let’s say nobody in the modern era. Kobe, I respect how you get down, Sir, but you don’t dominate games like I do.

Kobe: First of all, I absolutely do — in more ways than one — and, second of all, you play NIT squads all year. East of the Mississippi is like the Horizon League. Ironically, we’re the Big East/ACC over on this coast.

Paul: Haaaa!! It’s funny ’cause it’s true. We take advantage of the East. It’s like going to a frat party where there are a bunch of drunk freshmen girls.

Kobe: With low self-esteem.

Paul: On the rebound.

Kobe: And on ecstasy. Ha!

LeBron: You can really be an arrogant, insecure prick sometimes, Kobe.

Kobe: Arrogant? Absolutely. Prick. For sure. But insecure? Nah, baby, you got me twisted.

LeBron: No, really, you’re insecure. You know I’m breathing on your neck. I’m always saying you’re the best player in the world, even if I secretly believe that designation belongs to me. Just the other day, in a televised ESPN interview, I was asked if there were any athletes that I admire. I named Tiger, Roger Federer, Michael Jordan and you. But, then every time my name comes out of your mouth, there’s a dismissive tone attached. I think you’re scared that I’m passing you, that I’m the best player in the league, that I’m the Most Valuable Playe. So, you’re combating that by minimizing me whenever you can.

Kobe: Uh. You’re pretty close, I guess. — I’ll give you that. In terms of fundamental, singular value, I’m worth about a buck and you’re probably 99 cent, plus a centavo. You still gotta grow. I mean, look at you, you’re biting your nails and you still have your iPod buds in your ears. Have you actually been listening to music during all of this?

LeBron: Quietly, yes. It’s Damon Jones’ mixtape. He’s flowin’ over Rick Ross beats. It’s pretty pathetic, but much better than that joint you did with Tyra Banks.

Kobe: Let’s stay on subject, fellas…

Paul: Wait! I remember that joint. He started off, “What I lust for? Basketball, beats and broads.” Haaaaa! You must have grown up on Peabo Bryson and Phil Collins.

LeBron: Straight up though — and I’m not trying to gang-up on you or anything, Kobe — but I think it’s a two man race between Chris and I.

Paul (passively): Ooh. I don’t know about that.

LeBron: For real. I think Chris and I have carried a much heavier load for our squads, while, in the process, advancing the game of basketball. I think we’ve turned in seasons that are both statistically and — maybe more importantly — aesthetically unique in the modern era of basketball.

Paul: Yeah, I think dudes around the league are becoming afraid of you. But it’s like a healthy, awed-fear.

LeBron: And Chris. His game is just weird. He’s the New Isaiah/KJ/Tiny.

Paul: Well, actually, I patterned my game after Barry Sanders. You can’t tell?

Kobe: I can see that.

Paul: Word. If you notice, I create holes using space and momentum the way Barry did. I don’t necessarily slash like Tony Parker or Deron, I dart in and out and I’m always seeing the motion of the players two or three steps ahead. That’s how I can get in a lane, jab inside, bait two defenders toward wherever I want them to go or away from where I want to go and then dart through the hole that I just created. It’s physics, really. How else do you think I turned Tyson Chandler into a viable scoring threat? Our whole offense is basically predicated on me manufacturing shots for everyone, giving me the ball so that I can Houdini-up someone a shot. And then, on defense, I’m the tone-setter. I do what AI should be doing. Peja, Mo Pete, David West — they could easily fall victim to lazy defense. That’s why I’m purposely physical and aggressive at the pressure-point.

LeBron: And that’s why you’re so valuable.

Kobe: Yeah. Y’all know I’m a student of the game. I think if folks were honest and smart, they’d agree that Chris is turning in the greatest non-Magic season of any point guard in the history of the game. Forget the ’72-’73 Tiny or Zeke’s early years or the pre-Barkley KJ years. I mean, you smashed on us with 19, 21 and 3 and 27, 17 and 4 in your two wins over us, this season. And ‘Bron, you and your squad always give me fits.

LeBron: Yeah, I did throw in 33 and 10 and then 41 and 9 — both wins.

Paul: ‘Bron, I like how KG said the East was gonna come down to three teams, meaning the Cs, Detroit and y’all. And everyone knows that. What’s crazy is that the Cs have a championship “team”, so do the Pistons, but with y’all, it’s like, “They have LeBron, so, at the end of the day, no matter what else is going on, they can sneak anyone in a seven-game series.” Now, that’s valuable. But, I’m just gonna be honest here. ‘Bron, you and I both know that Kobe is, not only the best player in the game, but he’s been the most valuable player this year.

LeBron: Yeah…well…nah, you’re right. Even though I wish he’d show me more love, I gotta admit that this is his year.

Kobe: I’m glad we could agree on this. I was waiting for you dudes to come to your senses. See, I’ll admit a lot of things. I admit that you two are the most unique and evolutionary talents in the league. I admit that I’m third when it comes to sheer production. I admit that, when my squad is healthy, my load and burden is lighter than yours. But I look at this MVP thing as an unscientific, loose equation. You begin with however many games the team wins. So say, ‘Bron ends the season with a 45, Chris with a 58 and me with a 56. Then you take the player’s hand in the team’s performance as a percentage. So I’ll give you two both 80% and me 75%.

LeBron: Dude, you think your John Hollinger or something?

Kobe: Just follow me — like you do on Team USA. Those are our base scores. And that’s why, ‘Bron, as wild as you’ve been this season, you just can’t match the collective value that Chris and I bring to our respective squads. We’ve played too well and vitally on teams that have performed much better than the Cavs. But, Chris, when we take it to the abstract realm, that’s when I get you. This nonsense about giving you the award if the Hornets finish first is preposterous! So what if your squad wins one or two more games than L.A.! Why should that determine the MVP? That’s insane and arbitrary rube-talk. Not only have we, the Lakers, dealt with more injuries, not only are we younger; but my team and I began the season under more duress, pressure, turmoil and scrutiny than any team in this league and, perhaps, professional sports. I took a team full of young, scorned, insecure players; plus a stressed management team running from a lynch mob and led them to the top of what might be the most competitive conference in the history of this league. And I did all of this while the world watched, wondering if I was going to bolt or when I would explode and the team would implode. Disaster was only averted because I became MJ Leader/Scorer and Scottie Defender/Facilitator wrapped into one Composite Kobe.

LeBron: I can’t front on you, Big Homey. I used to say, privately, that, if anything made me better than you, it was the fact that I could get more out of my teammates. I would watch Bynum and Vujacic and Odom and say, “I’d utilize those dudes much better than Kobe does.” Not anymore. I like how it almost seems like your first instinct on the pick-n-roll is to hit the big man rubbing off. That makes you so much more dangerous.

Paul: And you seem more nurturing now, too. Farmar used to tell me that you’d make him cry every Thursday. But the other day he texted me and said that he thinks he’s going to be an All-Star playing with you.

Kobe: And at the end of the day, I’m still the illest MFer with a pill.

LeBron: Ugh. It’s annoying ’cause it’s true.

Paul: Kobe For MVP.

LeBron: True.

Kobe: Cool. Yo, Bron, get off that throne. I’m gonna go get my clippers, I need you to give me an edge-up.

Next thing I know, Kobe came back, sat on King James’ throne and made Bron shape him up. Chris asked what was up and Kobe said he had to “get fresh” for Derek Fisher’s 45th Birthday Party — Billy Ocean was performing. Then I woke up to my vibrating phone.

I gotta say that I agree with Kobe, ‘Bron and Chris. This is Kobe’s year. Now it’s up to the “super delegates” to make the right choice.