This year’s NBA MVP race has been unlike any other in recent memory. To his respect, Russell Westbrook is on the verge of shattering a triple double record untouched for over 50 years under the great Oscar Robertson. There’s also James Harden, whose average 10 assists per game has somehow put him second in line. And of course, there’s LeBron James, just doing what he does best for almost a decade…decimating as the best all around basketball player in the world.
Russell Westbrook and James Harden are exceptional players having exceptional seasons. These are facts. Yet there is another truth that is unexplainably falling to the background- LeBron James is averaging 26 ppg, eight rpg and eight apg. This showing is arguably one of the best of his career, and yet, in the most head scratching truth of all, fans seem none the wiser.
But how, one may ask? How is it so easy to mistake LBJ’s greatness for normalcy? Are we really so infatuated with seeing a new face at the top that we are willing to sacrifice the facts? Or, like the society we live in, are we just so used to clinging to our chairs waiting for the next iPhone or the next superhuman athlete that we have become desensitized to the present?
LeBron has been a consistently valuable player for so long that the casualty has become an optical illusion to fans and critics alike. And like an over priced dinner on Valentine’s Day, his greatness has become expected rather than cherished. His physical dominance of the game is no longer impressive or sexy. How else do you put a guy who takes consistent plays off on defense, over the guy who has been officially put in the GOAT conversation?
We simply live in a world where everything is constantly new and changing. We are so warped that we can’t even entertain the idea that the same man has been MVP of the NBA just shy of a decade. Because where’s the sex appeal in that? IT’s much more sexy to wait in line for thirty six hours for that new iPhone that’s kind of the same as the old iPhone but comes with wireless headphones.
Russell Westbrook has been nothing short of brilliant this season and, unlike James Harden, deserves to be in the conversation for MVP. His personal stats are record breaking, and when tied into the story of love and betrayal with Kevin Durant, you have one hell of a headline. Yet, when the best player in the game is having one of the best seasons of his career, how do we still need to remind people that he is also in the MVP conversation? There is simply a disconnect.