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Harden visits the Raptors and some MVP thoughts ensue


So James Harden comes to town for his only visit with Houston Rockets and he carries with him one significant question:

Is he the Most Valuable Player in the NBA this season?

Or, more important, what is the Most Valuable Player in the NBA this season?

I can’t think of another year where there’s been as diverse a group to choose from and it will be fascinating to see how voters differentiate from what’s seen in many circles as a four-man race.

(Full disclosure: I haven’t received any information from the league but, if history holds, I could very well be among the MVP voters; it has happened in the past and if it  happens this year, you will know).

The four frontrunners, and I don’t think there’s any debate anywhere on this, are:

Despite losing Dwight Howard to injury for more than a quarter of the season the basically unstoppable Hardens leads the NBA in scoring and his Rockets are in a dogfight for second overall in the West.

Stephen Curry

He’s in the Best Player On The Best Team category without doubt. The Golden State Warriors are at 60 wins and counting and are ready to start the post-season as heavy championship contenders.

LeBron James

There is no disputing he is the most highly-skilled and potentially dominant player in the game; it’s hard to argue with those who say he could win the award every season if it was simply based on  talent.

Russell Westbrook

All he’s doneafter his own injury issues earlier in the season – is get the snakebitten Oklahoma City Thunder into the post-season on the strength of an outstanding late-season run.

So, who wins?

Impossible to say, impossible to suggest one is more valued than another and it will come down to personal preference.

Is the MVP the most indispensable player in the league, the single guy whose absence, if you removed him entirely from the equation, would cause his team to freefall into oblivion.

To me, if that’s the top criteria, you’d have 30 candidates and that’s not right.

Best player on best team theory? Makes entire sense in a lot of ways but if the team’s so good otherwise – and we know how much of a team game basketball is – isn’t that as big a factor?

Most dominant? Sure, guys like James – and Michael Jordan  long before him, could be handed the trophy pretty much every year if that was the lone criteria. But as dominant and good as he is, how does it translate to team success?

Indispensable? Take Westbrook away from the Kevin Durant-free Thunder and where are they? Dead in the water, likely; but couldn’t you say the same thing about, say, Damian Lillard or Chris Paul or Tim Duncan?

What do you think because I absolutely don’t know and, as you can see, there’s a huge variety of rationales you could used to cast a ballot in any number of ways.

I’ve just started to think about and with a gun to my head this morning I’d probably go with Harden, Curry, James, Westbrook and some Mr. X in that order if the ballot had to be filed later this afternoon.

But for the first time in a long time – and I think I’ve had a vote for each of the past five or six seasons and several before that over my career – I could honestly defend any of a handful of selections.

I  guess that’s fun but given that the NBA and Professional Basketball Writers Association have finally agree to make every ballot public, it’s also a bit of pressure.

It’s going to a fun two or three weeks whittling the list down to the one that has to finally be sent in.

This work in this guy’s birthday today?

Thought so.

Oh yeah, can we add “compete level” to “score the basketball” as phrases relegated to the dustbin of history?

Thank you very much.

I watched enough college basketball on TSN this weekend that I wouldn’t order one of those Asiago chicken things if it was the last meal on earth.

Surely in the name of all that’s good in the world there’s more advertising inventory that viewers don’t have to be subjected to the same stuff at every break? And if there isn’t, shouldn’t the sales staff be taken to task?

And speaking of the Final Four, having three No. 1 seeds and the perennial contenders from Michigan State on the last weekend kind of renders all those upset-laden backets rather useless, doesn’t it?

Glad I didn’t get involved in those shenanigans.

Okay, still on a bit of a minutes limit here – at least until the cardiologist calls with the appointment for this week so he can sign the paper that frees me once and for all – so we’re once again Monday-Wednesday-Friday and some weekend mail.

Can I just say that trying to be at least a marginal fan of the TFCs is one of the more difficult and frustrating things I’ve ever tried.

My side stages huge late rally to get the equalizer in about the 88th minute at Salt Lake last night and then suffer one of their predictable mental lapses and give up the game-winner about 90 seconds later.

This would not have happened if my man Michael Bradley hadn’t been off cavorting with the USA side in some friendlies and that’s why I’m willing to give the Reds another chance.

But these late collapses have become something of a tradition with them and wonder just how much the fans can take.

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