Wednesday, June 6, 2007

NBA MVP Value.

I got into a discussion on the value of the NBA's MVP award when Pacifist Viking set Kareem's six awards up, along with Jordan's 10 scoring titles and Russel's 11 Championships, as a career accomplishment that stood out above all others. I'm still not sure I agree that it is, but it appears that my reason for criticizing it were incorrect.

I took the viewpoint that the MVP was essentially a popularity contest, voted on by cranky sportswriters, without using any real data or statistics. I tend to be unimpressed, though admittedly I employ them when measuring a player, with most awards for this very reason. Bob Dylan has many a Grammy, but I would never defend the quality, or impact, of his music by listing his Grammy awards. Its quality is completely subjective, and the awards he receives can only be a portion of his total impact.

Different than other art forms, sports offer us results and statistics to support our positions. Which is why Ron Santo not being in the Hall of Fame is so galling, though statisticians all agree his credentials are HOF worthy. I assumed if you held various MVP winners stats up against other players, like Jordan vs. Malone in '96-'97, you would find that the player having the best season did not always win the MVP. That like in Santo's case, they let personal biases cloud their voting.

I emailed Mike McGraw at the Daily Herald, who voted this year and was cool enough to respond the same day, to ask if there was a list of voters anywhere. He didn't know of any list and explained that each team chooses three people to vote and these three people can change every year. A certain number of national media get a vote, and that's it. This seemed to support my theory the voting was treated casually at best.

All wrongo.

Michael 'wiLQ' Wilczynski over at has done an exhaustive study of the the MVP award going back to '84-'85. Using his own formula, that I barely understand and could never describe to you, he found that the voters had awarded the proper player every year.

Every year.

This is amazing to me. That the voters, who are again, just sports writers I find fault with everyday, could be correct some 22 times in a row. I think I'm interpreting the data correctly.

I think.

Someone please check me on this.

I guess the NBA MVP is one of, if not the most, consistently correct and reliable award given out.

You learn something new everyday.

Monday, June 4, 2007