1. Kevin Garnett
Let's get the bad stuff out of the way so you don't think this is a homer vote: I don't think Garnett is the most talented player in the league; I don't trust him at the end of games because he gets too wound up; it drives me crazy that he relies on his fall-away so much (especially in fourth quarters); and I'd rather have Tim Duncan for a playoff series if my life depended on it. Of course, none of that stuff matters in an MVP discussion. He's the one guy everyone will remember from this regular season (sorry, Kobe) and he was worth a 30-win swing to the Celtics this season. In other words, he's the first choice for two of my three MVP questions.
But that's not why I'm picking him. On May 22, professional basketball was effectively murdered in Boston. Garnett transformed every single facet of the franchise upon his arrival, from playing for the Celtics to coaching them to following them to owning them to working for them. What he did can't be measured by statistics; it can't even be measured in a few paragraphs like the section you're reading right now. It would belittle what he did. He transformed the culture of the team. He taught everyone to care about defense, to care about practice, to care about being a professional, to care about leaving everything they had on the court, to stop caring about stats and start caring about wins. He single-handedly transformed the careers of three young players (Rajon Rondo, Leon Powe and Kendrick Perkins), one veteran (Pierce) and one coach (Doc Rivers), all five of whom could have gone the other way. He played every exhibition game like it was the seventh game of the Finals. During blowouts, he stood on the sidelines and cheered on his teammates like it was a tight game; because of that, the bench guys did the same thing for the starters and basically turned into a bunch of giddy scrubs on a 14-seed in a March Madness upset during every game.
The best word for him would either be "contagious" or "selfless." By Thanksgiving, the entire team was emulating him. Every time a young player got carried away with himself during a game -- like the time Perkins started going for his own stats or the time Rondo snapped at his coach -- KG was there to set him straight and scare the living hell out him. Every time one of his teammates was intimidated, KG had his back. Every time one of his teammates got knocked down, KG rushed over to pick him up; eventually, four teammates were rushing over to help that fifth guy up, and that's just the way it goes with the team now. Every time an opponent kept going for a shot after a whistle, KG defiantly blocked the shot just out of principle. Eventually, everyone started doing it. No shots after the whistle against the Celtics. That was the rule. It was a series of little things, baby steps if you will, but they added up to something much bigger.
You can't measure Garnett's impact with individual statistics, but these numbers seem pretty relevant: 24 (number of '07 Celtics wins); 16 (number of '08 Celtics losses); four (number of useful free agents who signed with Boston after the KG trade); 0 (number of useful free agents who signed with Boston in the 15 years before that); 10.2 (Boston's point differential this season, an historic number); three (number of Texas teams they beat on the road in a four-day span, as well as the Celtics' total number of double-digit defeats this season); 4,753 (estimated number of teammate hugs during games this season, shattering the record of the '84 Lakers); 42 (field-goal percentage for Boston opponents this season); 41 (number of home sellouts this season); and 3-to-2 (the Celtics' odds to win the 2008 title).
Look at the Celtics last season and look at them this season. Does any of the good stuff happen without Garnett? Any of it? Maybe his MVP campaign lost some steam when he missed 10 games earlier in the season; I have to admit, even I shifted my attention toward Kobe, Paul and LeBron these past two months. During a conversation with my father last weekend, I mentioned the MVP "argument" and he quickly responded with a fired-up rant that was very unlike my Pops. I'll do my best to paraphrase it:
"Argument? There's no argument, it's Garnett. I went to almost every home game. He's standing on the bench screaming for his teammates when we're up 30 points. He's a maniac! A few weeks ago, I couldn't go to a Wednesday night game so I put my tickets online and they sold in four minutes. Four minutes! Last year, I would have been walking around my office asking if anyone wanted to go, and I would have probably ended up eating the tickets. This year? Four minutes. Who did more for a team in one year? We lost 18 straight games last season. We were nothing. Didn't you watch the games? How could anyone be more valuable than KG was this season?"
It's a great question, and since I couldn't answer it without sounding like a fool, Kevin Garnett gets my MVP vote for 2007-08. Just remember, the "V" stands for "valuable."
I think Kobe will win anyways since KG won one already and Kobe hasnt.
I think Kobe will win anyways since KG won one already and Kobe hasnt.
I think all three of the main candidates are just as qualified as the other, but i do think this will factor into voters decisions and it's become very popular for laker/kobe fans to say otherwise. if cp3 or KG wins i won't call it an outrage, but i hope if kobe wins we don't hear "it's because he hasn't won before/is older than cp3/etc" because they're all worthy.
Yes, although he is very good at being unbiased while still being a fan, if that makes sense.
However, I do think this is a homer pick.
All that stuff about what KG did for that franchise is irrelevant because all of the top-4 do those things for their franchise, sans Kobe. That's to say, without Kobe, the Lakers are still popular. But without Lebron? NO ONE ON EARTH cares about the Cavs. Without Paul? Do the Hornets even stay in New Orleans?
He acts like KG is the only one who changes the entire complexion of his franchise. It's just not true.
I am not here to debate the MVP race but I will debate this point.
Actually, it is true. It was the biggest single season turnaround ever record wise in NBA history. No other current NBA player would have done that for the Celtics.
If KG went to the Cavs he wouldn't do for them what Lebron has done. If KG went to the Hornets instead of Chris Paul, he wouldn't have had any bigger of an impact than CP3, especially when you consider what Paul's done for the frail psyche of the New Orleans sports fan.
This whole "single season turnaround" stuff isn't all KG. They acquired Ray Allen, they already had Paul Pierce. I mean, it's not like KG walked into a High School teams practice and made them contenders.
And on that note, KG isn't the entire reason that veterans are signing with them left and right. It's because they are good, and they play in the east. KG is part of that, for sure. But it's not like these veterans are saying, "ya know what, I want to play with KG." They're saying, "Okay, out of every team, which one gives me the best chance to win a championship?" And that team is the Celtics.
The things that Bill Simmons says KG has done for the franchise are just over exaggerated. He's a really great player, he's done a lot for the Celtics. But MVP? In 2008? Nuh-uh.
Greatest turnaround is true, but half of the team has different players, so it shouldn't matter. NOw if he does a great turnaround next year with the same players than he deserves the MVP. Laks without Kobe last year would have a big turnaround this year as well if Kobe was from another team coming to the Laks. What did Garnett do for the Wolves? Nothing. At least Kobe was able to get his team in the playoffs.