Harden > LeBron, don’t @me
Though I was but a wee bab at the time, I’ve read quite a bit about the travesty that was Karl Malone’s winning the MVP award over Michael Jordan in 1997. Apparently, the Mailman got most of his narrative momentum from a “Sports Illustrated” piece, the argument of which went something like this: “I know everyone wants to make the obvious pick, but obvious is boring!” Why do I bring this up? Over the past week, an article from a Cleveland sports writer advocating for LeBron James’s MVP candidacy has been making the Internet rounds, and I just want to ensure everyone at TU recognizes that denying James Harden for a second time would be a major historical blemish.
LeBron has enjoyed a resplendent season, averaging a hyper-efficient 28-9-9 while starting all 82 games. He remains the league’s best player and the presumed number one pick in the “choose-a-guy-to-win-a-game-with-your-life-on-the-line” draft. But as we have to reestablish seemingly every year, the MVP recognizes performance within a single regular season, and nobody has been better in that regard than the Beard. Just about every advanced metric short of VORP has Harden as the runaway winner, as he averaged a comparably efficient 30-5-9 while captaining one of the deadliest offenses in league history.
A big part of the Rockets’ switch-happy defense as well, he did a great deal to overcome his memey reputation as a sieve by improving effort and using his quick hands and thiccque frame to utterly stymie post mismatches. (James, meanwhile, continues to be hailed as an everyday impactful defensive player while once again spending an entire regular season resting by hiding on poor offensive players and walking up the floor behind the play.) And most important, Houston sits at a dominant 65-17 in a tougher conference, while LeBron struggled to drag a decently talented supporting cast to the fourth seed in the East. Let’s not make this Mail Fraud 2.0. My vote — if the NBA would only recognize “The Collegian” as a legit paper! — is going to Harden.
Maybe Don’t Be a Dick
Pretty good general life advice if you ask me, but in this case, I’m referring to douchebags who feel the need to attack other sports (and their fans) that they don’t personally like. You know these guys, the obnoxious American who only likes “real football,” the Lax Bro who insists baseball is dead, the high school hockey benchwarmer who calls 6’9” 250 lb. NBA players pussies. Here’s a novel concept for you guys: people have different interests. They should be free to live their best lives and pursue those interests without being berated over one of the most ultimately trivial things in the world! Not everything has to be about you, you self-entitled pricks!
But Everything Does Have to Be About Me
Because this is my column. And it’s the last one I’ll be writing as Sports Editor. I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m not at all happy with the job I’ve done. Coverage of TU sports, especially those besides football and basketball, has been quite a bit less comprehensive than I would have liked if we had a larger staff. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed the gig and hope that what work we have put out, from the analytical and prophetic all the way down to the irreverent, has been to the satisfaction of the students and our loyal alumni readers. So this is goodbye for now, Little Creatures. Enjoy the break, stay cool beneath the bleachers and I’ll see you next fall.