Steph Curry has been named NBA MVP in each of the last two seasons. This season, he did so in unanimous fashion, becoming the first player in league history to achieve that.
And yet, the Warriors won each of their first two playoff series more or less without Curry, who has been hampered by knee and ankle ailments throughout the postseason. So if a team can win without its best player, is that best player the most valuable player in the league?
LeBron James isn’t sure.
“I don’t know how they defined (valuable),” James, a four-time MVP, said in an interview this week. “I think sometimes the (words) ‘most valuable’ or ‘best player’ of the year, you can have different results. That’s not taking away from anyone that’s ever won the award, but you look at Steph’s numbers. He averaged 30, I think he led the league in steals, he was 90/50/40 and they won 73 (games). Can you have really any debate over that? When it comes to that award? But when you talk about most valuable, then you can have a different conversation. But take nothing away from him. He’s definitely deserving of that award for sure.”
“So Steph was the best player,” Tiki Barber said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “We all know that. The best player in the NBA this year was Steph Curry. The Golden State Warriors were the best team in the NBA all season long. Hell, they had less than double-digit losses. It doesn’t happen. Steph Curry is the best player. But was he the most valuable player? LeBron puts it out there like, ’Yeah, I get it. I’m going to throw out all these stats for you.’ . . . But at the end of the day, it sounded like LeBron was saying Steph’s not the most valuable. He may be the best, but he’s not the most valuable. I wonder if we agree. Should there be a distinction? And should we do away with the MVP?
“This is a nuance thing,” Barber continued. “It doesn’t rally change what we’re talking about. But when you leave it open for interpretation and discussion, calling Steph the most valuable player is probably inaccurate. I might agree. I don’t know if I’d want LeBron saying this because it just sounds like hate, but I think sports talk radio can say this. . . . Yeah, the Golden State Warriors wouldn’t have won 73 games and been the best team in basketball this year if Steph Curry wasn’t on that team. But I would garner to say they’re going to win 62, 64, be the No. 2 seed and probably still be right where they are in the Western Conference Finals without Steph. But would the Cleveland Cavaliers be swept through to the Eastern Conference Finals if LeBron wasn’t on the Cleveland Cavaliers? I don’t know. That sounds like more value to me.
“Look, Steph Curry is a monster. We laud him. I love him. I love what he does. I love that he pulls up, crosses over behind his back and then J’s you in your face from 35 feet. I love that about Steph. He is the best player I have seen in forever. But is he the MVP, though?”