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Former MVPs think Durant edges out LeBron this year

Apr 16, 2012, 4:56 PM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat Getty Images

It’s going to come down to LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant.

That is your MVP race and it is going to be close. Chris Tomasson at Fox Sports Florida decided to ask 11 former MVPs who would get their vote. Fun idea.

Durant won five votes to four (with two abstentions).

“I think that this year’s MVP award will end up in the hands of Kevin Durant,’’ Abdul-Jabbar said of the Oklahoma City forward. “Durant is my choice as front-runner due to the success of his team. Yes, he is on a young and talented team, but his presence has been the catalyst for their recent dominance.’’

For a dissenting opinion…

“There’s no question LeBron deserves the MVP, with his performance playing a complete game and for a successful team,’’ said Hakeem Olajuwon, the 1994 winner for Houston. “When you look at his contribution to his team and their record, there’s no question he deserves it.’’

I personally lean toward LeBron, but I think the final voting will go a lot like this poll — close but with a slight edge to Durant. While LeBron has had the better statistical season, Durant has a better narrative and his team and person are just better liked in general.

It is close. LeBron is scoring 26.9 points per game on 52.8 percent shooting, with 8 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. He has a league best PER of 30.5 and he contributes more on defense than does Durant. Not that Durant is putting up shabby numbers — 27.8 points per game on 50.3 percent shooting with 7.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and a PER of 26.7.

I don’t think Durant is a bad choice, I just think LeBron has had the better season and done more for his team at both ends of the floor. But when you ask people who write stories for a living to vote, the guy with the better narrative wins whether or not he is the better statistical choice. Ask Derrick Rose.

  1. khadeemw - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    There is no question in my mind that LeBron James is the better basketball player, but Durant is more valuable to his team than James is. If James goes down right now that just means Wade can assume is previous role as a scorer. They would still have Bosh as a complimentary scorer. If Durant goes down its more than likely that the Thunder would go from championship contender to a guaranteed early round exit.

  2. jondigital - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    If you needed a tie breaker the fact Lebron plays a better game on both ends of the floor is the decider IMHO. If not MVP Lebron should win DPOY.

  3. chicitybulls - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    “I personally lean toward LeBron”

    Really? You dont say.

    Other obvious statements: The sky is blue, water is wet, grass is green….

  4. 1972wasalongtimeago - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    Nobody living south of West Palm Beach cares about the MVP. It means nothing to us.

    Only one thing matters. And it’s not looking good, I can’t deny. But honestly, who gives a flying you know what about a freaking MVP award.


  5. packersareandwillalwaysbebetterthanthebears - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    You take away LeBron, they still have one of the best teams in the league.

    You take away Durant, you have a talented team with the offense turning into an unreliable, erratic offense led by Westbrook. Basically a way lesser version of Chicago.

    Taking the term Most Valuable, I believe it has to be Durant.

    • broncobeta - Apr 17, 2012 at 8:12 AM

      Then why do they win more when Westbrook takes more shots?

  6. hustle23 - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:39 PM


  7. david8726 - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    On the offensive end of the floor, the two are essentially equals. Durant is probably the better pure scorer, but LeBron has an edge as a passer. But on the defensive end, LeBron has a clear advantage over Durant.

    With his huge frame and agility, he is capable of guarding such a wide range of players. He can check a power forward on one possession and switch to a speedy point guard on another. He is equally good at playing both one on one and help defense thanks to his leaping ability and anticipation.

    LeBron’s all-pro caliber play on the defensive end of the floor is the biggest reason he’s more valuable than Durant right now. It’s very close, though. They are both great players.

  8. bearsstillsuck - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    Why not put a poll up and see what the readers think? But I think Durant will win it, and it won’t be as close as some think.

  9. doctordunkenstein - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    better narrative = new MVP term used to screw LBJ out of another award…should be called ABLMVP…anyone but lebron mvp

    • soopreme - Apr 16, 2012 at 7:21 PM

      With the decision and his coming up small in the finals last year, Lebron is not going to get any sympathy from anybody.
      Lebron is having one of the greatest all around seasons in nba history and they act like the competition is close for the MVP (LOL).
      The guy is deserving of the MVP and the DPOY but it means nothing to these haters.
      The only way he can silence these haters is win the champinship.

  10. lakerluver - Apr 16, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    Even though I think KD deserves it mostly because of OKC’s record, I hope they give it LBJ. That way LBJ would be the ONLY player with 3 MVP’s and 0 titles. The “Heatles” ain’t winning JACK this season!! Tee Hee Hee.

  11. soopreme - Apr 16, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    Anyone who thinks that someone other than Lebron should get the MVP award needs his head examined. Can Durant make an all nba defense 1st or 2nd team before he is included with the best players in the game. Lebron is 3rd in the league in steals for gods sake!!!!
    There is just too much Lebron hatred and as a result, he probably wont win it.

  12. lakerluver - Apr 16, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    He plays with one top 10 player, and another top 25-30 player, AND he’s having one of the best statistical seasons ever, in your opinion. My question then is why aren’t the Heat destroying the rest of the league? Why can’t they win against the other good teams, especially in the road? The best player in the best team DESERVES the MVP!! But since it appears LBJ may not ever win a title let him have every reg season MVP. Maybe if the “Heatles” add Nash, Ray Allen and Kobe next season LeBron will finally have enough help to win a title!! You guys get too caught up in stats. Stats mean nothing if you don’t do it when it matters most!!!!

  13. asuthyo - Apr 16, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    Why does everyone (including the media) keep bringing up the Thunder’s record as a reason Durant should win the award?

    The Heat are one game behind in the loss column to the Thunder and split the season series with them. So how does LBJ not win the award? When you look at it, pretty much everything is equal; record, H@H record, and talent around them. So…better stats should win that argument.

    • jolink653 - Apr 16, 2012 at 10:38 PM

      because maybe kevin durant is the main reason why the thunder have had the best record in the league for most of the year?

      stats should not always decide the mvp award that might determine the best player but not the MOST VALUABLE player to their team…take jordan off the bulls and the bulls were an average team…in terms of who adds the most to his team i think it’s durant over james because if you take durant out of the equation the thunder are probably a 5 seed but definitely not anywhere near what they are now…the heat without lebron are still a top 4 team and still a lock to win that division…and i might catch some flak for this but i think durant is a better offensive player than lebron is KD is unstoppable from anywhere on the floor he has a quicker first step than lebron and can hit any shot with defenders all over him…lebron’s better defensively for sure but KD has the advantage on offense…overall KD is more valuable to his team

      • dedalus13 - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:49 AM

        “take jordan off the bulls and the bulls were an average team”

        Like the ’94 bulls who won 55 games, good for 3rd seed in the east…? LOL

        Not saying that OKC could or could not be this kind of ’94 bulls team without KD (and that’s not the point); I just guess that your argument of the MVP should go to the most-valuable-to-their-team cannot survive through your example. Do you really think it should be awarded this way? What about not giving it to David Robinson for multiple years back then (we have seen to what extent his absence in 96-97 impacted the spurs: 20-62 record and D Wilkins has the team top-scorer)?

      • jolink653 - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:28 AM

        how far did that bulls team go without jordan? second round loss to the knicks so right there shows the world of difference jordan made to that team indicating his value not to mention the bulls never sniffed another championship without him on the team

        i just don’t agree with the way MVP awards are handed out in any sport…it’s supposed to be for value to the team not for stats and i feel that players (like david robinson and derek jeter) get screwed all the time because they lose out to someone who had better stats but may not have been as vital to their team’s success…i think people get too caught up in stats when stats are not entirely indicative of value to a team and KD adds more to his team than lebron does to the heat…take each one off their respective team and who loses more? i don’t think anyone can argue that the thunder would drop off more

      • dedalus13 - Apr 17, 2012 at 8:44 PM

        hmm not sure that a 2nd round exit (basically in the top 8 team in the league) is the trademark of an “average” team. And many top teams in the regular season have also experienced early, 1st round shockers. Still a 82 games record say someting about the actual level of bball of such units.

        I still think the MVP award should go to the most talented player (independently of team record). And I don’t think i m too much in stats if that is a potential bias; because i also look at advanced stats. Still, going your way, it looks like win shares seems to me a good measure of how much a player contributes to team success. And LBJ (who i m not a fan of) is 1st or 2nd in that list for the past 7 years. Has for company MJ, Kareem, and Wilt (honorable mention to Mikan and Johnston).

        And I know of his playoff succes BTW. But for the time being MVP is for the regular season. Lets change the award definition before we change the award recipient.

  14. glink123 - Apr 16, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    James has two other max contract players on his team. Hardly the same workload as Durant.

    • cullenand99 - Apr 16, 2012 at 8:26 PM

      And Durant has an Westbrook (All-Star), James Harden (Possible 6th Man of the Year), Serge Ibake (One of the best defensive players in the NBA), and then one of (If not THE) best bench in the NBA. LeBron has Wade (All-Star) and Chris Bosh (All-Star). The rest of the Heat have been playing horrible recently and they still win. I dont know about you, but I would take the Thunder without Durant over the Heat without LeBron in a heartbeat.

    • soopreme - Apr 16, 2012 at 8:42 PM

      Heat are 12-1 without Wade.

  15. glink123 - Apr 16, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    There is a separate Defensive Player of the Year award, so don’t waste your time trying to give LeBron the MVP edge over Durant because of better defense. It’s not relevant.

    • cullenand99 - Apr 16, 2012 at 8:28 PM

      But the MVP is not called “Offensive Player of the Year”. So both offense and defense should play a factor. Durants offense>LeBrons offense Durants defense<<LeBrons defense.

    • soopreme - Apr 16, 2012 at 8:44 PM

      Listen pea brain, the award is for the best all around player in the game on both sides of the ball

  16. itsmammoth - Apr 16, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    Durant, but it’s close!

  17. nbasucksbad - Apr 16, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    I hope it’s not Lebrick, I don’t think I can handle another 1 hour show. What would he call this one?

  18. david8726 - Apr 16, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    I think that LeBron and Durant are basically equals on offense. Durant is the better pure scorer, I think, but LeBron is the better passer.

    On the defensive end, LeBron has the edge over Durant. With his size and speed, he can guard a power forward on one possession and a speedy point guard on another equally well. He is equally good at playing one on one defense and offering help D thanks to his shot blocking and anticipation.

    LeBron’s first-team all defensive team presence on that side o the ball is what makes him the #1 candidate for MVP, I think. Durant is very, very good too though and would be a deserving MVP winner.

  19. keyshawn22 - Apr 16, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    Durant then Rondo for MVP….

    Lebron doesnt even belong in the discussion. Valuable doesnt mean the player with the best statistics it means who matters most to a team compared to somebody else. If you take Durant or Rondo off their teams they are in the lottery. If you take Lebron off the Heat they are the 3 seed instead of the 2 seed. Id even say Dwight Howard deserves it more than Lebron because look how bad the Magic are without him. I am not a Lebron hater at all he just doesnt deserve the MVP this year.

  20. dirtybird2020 - Apr 16, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    Haha durant is da man! Id take durrant over lebron anyday, he carried team usa, as wade had to bail lebron out in olympics! Ball dont lie, and west banged his mom hahaha, west gets my mvp vote for being gangsta!

  21. slowclyde86 - Apr 16, 2012 at 10:01 PM

    “I personally lean toward LeBron”. Truer words were never spoken.

  22. lakerluver - Apr 16, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    “Possibly” 3 MVP’s, 0 Rings. Who cares if LBJ wins the next 10 MVP’s, at the end of the day KD will probably have multiple titles.

  23. progress2011 - Apr 16, 2012 at 11:13 PM

    Still got a lot of mad ole cleveland fans, stalking every ” King James ” story.

    Ever consider, the Heat are playing possum ! They determined their winning strategy before the break, when they were beating teams by 20pts almost every nite.

    In the playoffs and to win the championship, they are gonna push the ball because few teams can run with their athletes.

    Consider further, they are just practicing the half court game, getting guys in the rotation and making their opponents comfortable.

    It’s a form of psychology, martial arts disciplines, such as Jiu Jitsu employ. Make your opponent comfortable, right before you take them out.

    Watch and learn !!!

  24. diablito0402 - Apr 17, 2012 at 7:30 AM

    No doubt kurt would lean towards lebron, thats his meal ticket,,, just saying.

  25. diablito0402 - Apr 17, 2012 at 7:35 AM

    Why should lbj win mvp. He is not even the go to guy on his team with a minute left in the game. Everyone knows Wade is getting the rock when it really matters…

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