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Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn defends his lone vote for ‘Melo for MVP

May 6, 2013, 8:44 AM EDT

New York Knicks v Miami Heat Getty Images

LeBron James received 120 of the 121 first place votes for MVP — he was one vote short of being the first ever unanimous pick.

The person who cast the lone dissenting vote was the very good, very well respected NBA writer for the Boston Globe Gary Washburn, who defended his vote Monday in the paper.

Secondly, this isn’t the Best Player in the Game award, it’s the Most Valuable Player award, and I think what Anthony accomplished this season was worthy of my vote. He led the Knicks to their first division title in 19 years.

That’s a long time ago.

Anthony led the league in scoring average and basically carried an old Knicks team to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Amar’e Stoudemire missed most of the season with knee issues, Raymond Felton missed six weeks, and Tyson Chandler dealt with nagging injuries, leaving Anthony, J.R. Smith, and a bunch of lottery picks from the mid-1990s to win 54 games and beat the Miami Heat three times.

This is a fair argument, and while not one I fully agree with he certainly is within his bounds to make it and cast that vote. It’s not like Washburn voted for J.J. Hickson or something, Anthony came in third and was a legitimate MVP candidate. Frankly, I’d rather hear the explanation of the nine voters who left Anthony out of their top five completely.

And the league intentionally does not define MVP for the voters — you can vote for the best player in the game, the guy you think who was most important to his team, the best player on the best team, or however else you wish to define most valuable. I think for most voters this definition is more art than science — they know what the MVP is when they see it. And it’s a combination of all those definitions.

The idea that the league or anyone else didn’t want LeBron to be unanimous is bunk — for one Washburn is not the kind of guy swayed by that stuff. He voted his conscience.

I think LeBron deserved it for a tremendous season lifting a good team to the best record in the NBA, to a level where they won 27 in a row and were dominant. To me Anthony had his best season ever, however, and will agree that without him this Knicks roster is in a lot of trouble this past season. And remember, the votes are for the regular season — Anthony’s playoff struggles (against defenses overloaded to stop him) do not matter in the voting.

Just like people often say with politics, I don’t agree with Washburn’s vote but I’ll defend his right to cast it.

But this makes you wonder about past voting — Michael Jordan was never unanimous? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Wilt Chamberlain? Washburn is not Fred Hickman (the broadcaster’s one vote in 2000 cost Shaquille O’Neal a unanimous win, Hickman voted for Allen Iverson) he was a guy voting what he saw and believed.

And he had the courage to defend it publicly. Good on him. Now we can all move on to the games and things that really matter in basketball.

  1. saint1997 - May 6, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    Couldn’t agree more with this articles analysis of his decision. He was well within his bounds to make a decision on how he defines MVP and in the end who cared if it is unanimous, LeBron won and that’s that.

  2. 1972wasalongtimeago - May 6, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    Lets imagine every player was a free agent and a dispersal draft was held today. I wonder what Gary Washburn would say if a team picked Carmelo over LeBron.

    Did he really think Carmelo is more valuable than LeBron because they were able to finish with a better record than the corpses of the Celtics, Nets, Sixers, and Raptors? Really? They finished 12 games out of first! Golden State finished 13 games put of first, how about Steph for MVP?

    A “respected” writer for the Boston Globe? He sounds more like one of the PBT NYK regulars to me.

    • musilly - May 6, 2013 at 9:20 AM

      The MVP vote is like a seven-factor “balancing” test in law. The standard is so loose that you can “justify” any number of people in a given year. The annoying thing is that writers will change justifications from year to year. I think Kurt has made the point that unless someone has a super dominant season, then writers will go with the “best narrative” (see “Rose, Derrick.”)

      Lebron is obviously the best player in the game. It’s just obvious. When it’s obvious who the best in the game is, it’s almost tautological to say that the best player is also the most valuable player.

      The only other plausible counter-argument is that player X meant more to team X than player Y meant to team Y, even though player Y is a better player than player X. That’s what this writer is saying about Carmelo.

      My problem with this argument is that then you take the MVP award out of the control of players. To some extent a player can make his team-mates better, but the front-office moves and sheer luck (i.e., who gets injured) that determine the general quality of a player’s supporting cast…that’s outside the player’s control. So why reward Carmelo for having a worse supporting cast (with “worse” taking into account injuries) than Lebron?

      The award should be indexed to overall dominance. Lebron had an all-time dominant season; Carmelo had a very very good one. It was an easy call this year. The Boston Globe argument is terrible (and by the way, why should it matter that the Knicks have stunk a long time? Again, that’s outside Carmelo’s and Lebron’s control. You shouldn’t tie rewards/awards to that sort of thing.)

    • fanofevilempire - May 6, 2013 at 9:46 AM

      I have no idea what your point is and neither do you.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 6, 2013 at 9:49 AM

        Yes you do Gary.

    • fanofevilempire - May 6, 2013 at 11:10 AM

      LeBron is hands down the best player in the league but he does have a couple players
      named Wade and HOF’er Chris Bosch.

    • cantonbound13 - May 6, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      Stop being such a homer. It’s not the Most Outstanding Player award, it’s the Most Valuable Player award. Who has the most value to their team. The Heat without LeBron still have 2 guys that were all star starters. They would still make the playoffs if LeBron didn’t play. The Knicks rely heavily on Melo & need him to score nearly 30 points a game. Without him, they are a lottery team. If I were starting a team I would pick LeBron & Durant before Melo, but that’s not what the award’s about. Do you think Nash was better than Shaq or Kobe? Do you think Barkley was better than MJ?

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 6, 2013 at 1:25 PM

        Here’s how valuable LeBron is. This isn’t a situation where MJ or Shaq/Kobe lost MVP award to clearly inferior players. LBJ is so valuable that its just as big a joke that he only got 121 of 122 1st place votes. Winning the MVP isn’t good enough to reward this man for his greatness. Getting the highest percentage of votes in NBA history isn’t enough.

        All the votes would be adequate. Every one of them.

        All this being said, who cares. Game 1 tonight. It’s finally here.

    • cantonbound13 - May 6, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      @ 72: Did you ever see MJ play? You talk about LeBron as if he’s the greatest ever to play the game. He only has 1 ring, in a lockout shortened season. He is 6-9 all time in the finals. Twice he lost 4 games in a row in the finals. He had to team up with 2 all stars to finally get over the hump.
      MJ has 6 rings. If he didn’t take a break to play baseball, he’d easily have 8. He didn’t quit on his team & team up with 2 all stars to get a ring. He never lost more than 2 games in a Finals series, winning all 6 times he was there. He played against legends like Bird, Magic, Olajuwon, Ewing, Robinson, Malone, Barkley, Stockton, Isiah & beat them all.
      Stop being such a homer and realize he is no where near the greatest of all time. He has a long way to go to be mentioned in the same class as Michael.

      • Kurt Helin - May 6, 2013 at 7:56 PM

        Again, the MJ didn’t have help narrative is crap. He had a Top 50 players in Pippen, the best Euro of the era and a host of other good players as well. Also, Jordan got his ass handed to him three years in a row by the Pistons in the playoffs and people thought he couldn’t win the big one. MJ did not spring fully formed into his legend. Which isn’t to say LeBron will pass MJ in people’s minds (frankly, Kareem and others should be in the GOAT conversation) but don’t judge LeBron at 28 as if his legacy is set.

      • zblott - May 6, 2013 at 8:40 PM

        I generally agree with Kurt, but I’m not he’s remembering things correctly if he has Kukoc as the era’s best Euro.

        Here are the Euros ranked by how man Win Shares they earned from 84-99 in the NBA:
        Schrempf (104)
        Divac (62)
        Smits (53)
        Kiki (45)
        James Donaldson (43)
        Kukoc (40)
        Sabonis (32) + was clearly the best Euro of the era, just wasn’t in NBA for most of it

      • cantonbound13 - May 6, 2013 at 9:20 PM

        @ Kurt: What did Pippen & Kukoc do without Jordan? Nothing! Pippen couldn’t get the Bulls past the second round when MJ left to play baseball. Pippen joined a good team in Portland & couldn’t do anything either.
        Wade won without LeBron. Jordan never played with 2 all star starters in a season.
        Your just buying the LeBron hype espn is forcing on everyone.

      • Kurt Helin - May 6, 2013 at 11:37 PM

        The two years the Jordan retired the Bulls were the three and five seed in the East playoffs and made the second round of the playoffs. This was not all scrubs, it was a good team that had the best player of their generation to lead them.

        Which is pretty much what I see in Miami. You people all think I’m a fan of players and teams, you don’t know me at all. What you read into what I write says more about you and your biases than me.

    • llfreedman - May 6, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      “Lets imagine every player was a free agent and a dispersal draft was held today. I wonder what Gary Washburn would say if a team picked Carmelo over LeBron.”

      Strange straw man. A fantasy draft based on current AND future value has nothing to do with who was the most valuable player this year.

      “Did he really think Carmelo is more valuable than LeBron because they were able to finish with a better record than the corpses of the Celtics, Nets, Sixers, and Raptors? Really? They finished 12 games out of first! Golden State finished 13 games put of first, how about Steph for MVP?”

      Funny that you throw Raptors in there. The Knicks finishing 2nd in the East was just one of the points he makes, but point taken.

  3. pudgalvin - May 6, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    Exactly. For anyone up in arms about this, MJ was the leading scorer in the league and best player on the planet for a team that won 72 games and 4 people voted for someone besides him for MVP.

    • fanofevilempire - May 6, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      why are you talking about MJ, this has nothing to do with MJ, stay focused.

  4. jaerba - May 6, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    No, it’s still stupid because it shows someone who doesn’t comprehend the game of basketball. Carmelo only plays on one side of the court, and the Knicks offense is actually at its best when it’s running through Felton and Chandler, not him. Same as last year with Lin and Chandler.

    If you simply wanted to give it to an offensive star on an otherwise mediocre or bad team, then it should’ve gone to Harden or Curry. They played in the tougher conference and took up a bigger burden of their team’s offense than Carmelo did, since JR Smith and Raymond Felton also had career years.

    Lebron isn’t just the best player in the league, he also does more for his team than anyone else. Like half of their offensive sets run through him in the post now, instead of the double high post they were doing last year. Another good chunk of their sets have him quarterbacking a motion offense. And on defense, we all know about him guarding 1-4, wherever he’s needed (whereas Carmelo just doesn’t guard anyone.)

    The Knicks without Melo are not a good team, but they probably don’t drop that many games given how bad the East is. The Heat without Lebron are still a playoff team, but they’re probably more games back than the Knicks would be.

    • fanofevilempire - May 6, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      I agree, Melo was robbed.

    • fanofevilempire - May 6, 2013 at 9:49 AM

      wtf are your crazy, you make no sense.

  5. robones - May 6, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    Melo??? Seriously? I would have been ok with Duran getting votes but Melo over Durant? Seriously? And this dumb F&** has authority for a vote? Are you kidding me? Melo does not even play defense? He jack’s up 900 shoots a game? Over Durant????? Seriously??????

    • fanofevilempire - May 6, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      your comment is ridiculous at best, Melo was clearly the MVP.

  6. eventhorizon04 - May 6, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    So every year, there’s this side debate over whether the MVP should be given to the best player in the league or should be given to the most “valuable” player. And there’s a difference.

    Determining the “best player in the league” is simple – just ask yourself which player contributes the most to his team on both offense and defense. You and I might come up with different answers, but we both agree the criteria is straightforward.

    Figuring out who “Most valuable player in the league” is more complicated because you’re not only trying to decide which player is very good, but you’re also trying to decide how “valuable” his contribution is based on the quality of his supporting cast. You’re trying to imagine his team playing 82 games without him, and that’s rare since most MVP candidates play most of the season so sample sizes are small.

    While Washburn is free to vote for whomeve he wants, here’s something to consider: After Michael Jordan retired, the Jordan-less Bulls were a #3 seed in 1993-1994 and they were a #5 seed in 1994-1995. In other words, Jordan’s supporting cast in the 1990’s was VERY GOOD, since they were a top-5 seed in the two years in which Jordan missed the regular season due to being retired.

    So most MVPs throughout history have been given to players with great supporting casts – in other words, the best players on the best teams in the NBA. Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan combined for ELEVEN MVPs and were among the greatest players in NBA history. However, if their teams didn’t have them, would the Lakers, Celtics, and Bulls have been lottery teams? No.

    There wouldn’t have been a Celtics, Lakers, or Bulls dynasty with multiple championships without those 3 Hall of Fame guys, but at the same time, those teams wouldn’t have been garbage. So my counter-argument to Washburn is that the MVP, despite the V standing for the word “valuable,” has long gone to the best player on the best team, even when he has a great supporting cast.

  7. aboogy123456 - May 6, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Gary’s explanation for why Melo is the MVP is a good one, but this goes back to the same problem that we don’t have a real definition for what the MVP is. By his definition, Melo is deserving of the MVP and I would agree with him.

    I don’t agree with his definition of the MVP though. In my opinion, the MVP should go to the player who has the most impact on the game, regardless of what the rest of his team his like. If he’s on the best team in the league and has the most impact, then he’s the MVP. If he has the most impact but is on a crappy .500 team then I still think he should be the MVP. There are always two elements to the MVP, the player’s production, and what the rest of his team is like. I think we need to focus more on the player and less on their team. I think Kobe should have been the mvp at least three or four times, but when he was in his prime he was playing with chris mihm, smush parker, brian cook, and luke walton, so that led to him not winning it enough. This year, lebron had the most impact on the game, and it shouldn’t matter who he played with.

    • jaerba - May 6, 2013 at 10:30 AM

      Actually, the truest logical extension of his argument would be giving it to John Wall. The Wizards were 5-28 without him and 24-25 with him. That’s +19 games in only 3/5th of the season. Obviously that shouldn’t happen, but Wall improved his team by more games than anyone else.

      • aboogy123456 - May 6, 2013 at 10:35 AM

        But that’s what I truly disagree with. In your example, John Wall is the MVP because the rest of his team sucks. If lebron or melo were on the wizards, it’s fair to assume that they would also improve the team a lot. I go back to my argument that it should be the player with the most impact on the game, not the win-loss record necessarily.

        Too often I hear about how guys should not win it because their team is only .500 or whatever, and then people will also argue that guys should not get it because their team would still make the playoffs without them. It’s not a consistent argument, the best player should always get it. That being said, John Wall is phenomenal and I predict an MVP in his future =)

  8. bengzki - May 6, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    The problem about his argument is that it simply could apply to Stephen Curry or James Harden and to what they accomplished with their respective teams. Warriors and Rockets are not even a playoff team last season. But in order to be an MVP, you have to work both sides of the court. Yeah Anthony can score 30 or 40 but how many shots will it take for him to do that? Even in our daily works, productivity with efficiency will always sky rocket you above others.

    I guess somebody just wants to be cool and vote for who is different among majority.
    Stats/numbers don’t lie sir.

    • airjunior23 - May 6, 2013 at 10:32 AM

      it could be harden but not steph curry, Im a gsw fan first off, but hittin a ton of threes is not mvp worthy….hardens game is so much more diverse and melo’s is very refined at this point in his career. The warriors team has the best back up pg in the game right now, and a ton of shooters and not to mention that david lee was the better warrior until allstar break.

  9. airjunior23 - May 6, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    I had this same argument last week. people are so in awe of james they forget that he has made only one significant stride and albeit it’s shooting percentage, but cmon people his team is awesome, he has to take less shots. his team is rarely in duress and the list goes on for a ridiculously stacked team. Either way Last year, Durant shouldve gotten it. the amout of things he had to do were ridiculous. until injuries it was CP3 this year for obvious reasons…he is making a young and injury team look very very good. it’s unfortunate that the lbj train/band wagon is so over packed that people cant see beyond his stardom….it’s almost like people want to make up for the Kobe bryant mvp mishandlings…he should have three at least right now. With that said ….LBJ is a great player, take nothing away….

    • brutl - May 6, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      Alright, Junior, this isn’t the most improved award.
      We’ve known the clips had no chance since the all-star break, very good for a first round exit, huh!
      Most intelligent people realize that the Heat can lose any player, except Lebron, and still have a chance to win it all. You can’t say that for any other team.
      And if a team had a chance to trade your pick for MVP, with Lebron, they’d take it. That says it all right there.
      Now go to your room, Junior, adults are talking.

      • airjunior23 - May 6, 2013 at 11:23 AM

        Adults….sigh…the cliche genius is among us…thanks for the reprieve…whew….now back to the good part – Michael Bolton. First off with chris bosh and dwade at the helm, the heat would easily contend….cmon son…their stats only have gone down to accommodate lbj. A year ago bosh was a top 3 PF. and wade was the a top 3 SG…..not too many other teams that can say that. And who said most improved award???!!! But if you think that KD isnt worthy of the award you are a lost soul. Im not even saying that melo deserves it….not this year and maybe never…but when you set a culture change somewhere a la jason kidd (nets form 20 games to 60) or nash (shooting 50 from the field avg 13 assists) you should at least be considered. Lebron is the best in the game but he hasnt been hands the best every year. MVP is a snap shot…a season where one player is obvious the reason his team has made strides…not a team where you can gain the most veterans trying to win a ring and barely playing because the team is already stacked. And no sir, If i had the choice between KD and lbj…me personally im choosing KD and this really doesnt apply because im gonna pick Kobe from jump anyway. Thanks Cliche Guy, you really my day dumber!!!!

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 6, 2013 at 11:26 AM

        You could argue that LBJ should win Most Improved too

  10. jamieaadams - May 6, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    When you start a paragraph with “Secondly, this isn’t the Best Player in the Game award,” the subsequent spin is going to be truly breathtaking.

  11. zblott - May 6, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    Like others have said on here, Carmelo had a lot of help from several teammates who had great seasons, and they played in a fairly busted conference.

    He doesn’t play defense, he had as many turnovers as assists and isn’t exactly setting up the team’s offense, and 6.9 rebounds per game for a PF is not good. I guess it’s his great shooting that made him so valuable to the Knicks then:

    Melo’s shooting: .449 FG, .379 3FG, .502 eFG
    Knicks shooting: .448 FG, .376 3FG, .515 eFG

    Nope – not even his shooting was valuable compare to his team. Gary Washburn, you are officially an idiot.

  12. djigel - May 6, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    When you give every writer an opinion – they’re going to differ. I think the melo argument is wrong – but I don’t get a vote. It’s not like this was the deciding factor – it was one vote. Lebron is still the MVP – deservedly so. I don’t see what the big fuss is over. MJ didn’t always get MVP awards due to the fact that the writers simply wanted to give it to other people (see Charles Barkley) and it wasn’t a huge ordeal. If LBJ didn’t win – then we have a discussion. For me the entire thing is a non-issue.

  13. Mr. Wright 212 - May 6, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    He’s right. The award is for most VALUABLE (to the team’s success), not the best player, who is LeBron James. People are declining in cognition, so you can’t expect them to understand the difference between the two, and understanding the purpose of the award.

  14. whit0101 - May 6, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Gary Washburn acknowledges that LeBron is better then Carmello, but that Carmello was more valuable to his team. Utter nonsense. If one takes Gary Washburn’s logic to its conclusion then any MVP candidate who has another superstar on his team cannot win the MVP. Furthermore, using Washburn’s logic if you want to call it that, they should consider candidates on the last place team. Carmello took the Knicks to an insignificant two seed position who may not get past the second round. LeBron took the Heat to a position of total dominance in the league. This clown should not be allowed to vote in the future.

  15. whit0101 - May 6, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    In this debate, everyone is defending Washburn’s right TO BE WRONG. Chew on that Gary.

  16. lavoysboy - May 6, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Washburn has a strong case. Carmelo is one of the best offensive players in this league (#3 right now on my list). But the thing with Carmelo is he actually plays defense this year which is why he is getting MVP consideration from 1 person. Mike Woodson has helped him become a better all around basketball player. If you look at the way the Knicks improved in opponents point allowed per game is astonishing under Woodson. Granted D’Antoni doesnt know what defense is, but he helped the Knicks become a far better basketball team because of the defense.

    Melo is a huge part of this defense. Multiple players for the knicks have been injured for long periods of time (felton, chandler, stoudemire), and the only person who for the most part has consistently shown up every night is Melo, which means Melo was a consistent part of this defense (top 10 defense at worst).

    Woodson was a huge part of Carmelo’s success this year asking him to do many different things than normally asked on the court.

    With that being said,I still believe LeBron James deserved MVP over Melo. Miami would not have that huge lead in the East without LeBron. Wade and Bosh are still superstars, but LeBron makes that surrounding cast so much better. He can play positions 1-4 on offense and defense which allows a team with so many guards to have a deep bench because of Lebron’s versatility. If someone gets hurt at guard or forward, Lebron can help fill that roll in many ways. He is an absolute workhorse and the best player in this league by far. The stats prove it, and even if you look at every game LeBron almost never has an off night. Congrats to Lebron, he deserved the MVP for the being the most versatile player in the game, his basketball talent, his physical prowess, and his intelligence for the game.

  17. 13arod - May 6, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    melo can’t get out of double teams and turns the ball over alot and takes bad shots

    • fanofevilempire - May 6, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      steroids ruined your brain!

  18. aluren22 - May 6, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    You guys, this is one vote… stop talking like Melo won the MVP. It wasn’t even close.

  19. southbeachtalent - May 6, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Anyone who argues that LeBron should not have been the MVP is certifiably dumb. Every single GM would pick LeBron over anyone. If you’re going to dispute that then I will just classify you under “ignorant”.

  20. thefreaksfg - May 6, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    There aren’t any good reasons to not vote for LeBron for MVP, unless you change the meaning of reason. LeBron was 25% in PER (player efficiency rating), and that barely takes defense into account. LeBron led the league in Win Shares (19), with Carmelo far behind at 9. The Knicks had the 7th best overall record, so to say that he makes the most impact on his team (Washburn’s definition of “value”) makes no sense. The Knicks would have been the best overall team in the NBA if they had LeBron instead of Carmelo. He makes the biggest impact on of any player in the NBA, and that’s how you define value. What the Knicks achieved this season as a team in respect to their history (first division title in however many years) has no relevance, otherwise you ruin the merit of an individual award. Look at how the player impacted the team, not the team’s history. Anyone voting for anyone other than LeBron this year has no reasoning.

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