From 1984 to 2016, the MVP for each of the NFL’s 32 teams was awarded the league’s highest individual honor. In the early days of the award, the MVP was selected by committee, but in 1986 it became a unanimous selection between the two finalists. In the 21st century, the field of nominees has become much more competitive—the “three- or four-time MVP” award has been given to a third-place finisher a record nine times. One fan’s dream is to see a player win this award a record ten times, but would anyone really want to see a team lose out on the honor once again?
Every year, the MVP voting has the same problems. The voters always get it wrong, and the selection process always reinforces the same flawed conclusion. The better player should be the MVP, the better player should be the MVP, the better player should be the MVP, and so on. And every year, the MVP voters get it wrong. Why does this happen? The answer is simple: the MVP should not be quarterback, running back, or wide receiver.
It’s easy to forget just how young he is. He has hardly had time to grow into the larger than life figure he will be.
James Harden is notorious for becoming irritated when he believes he has been overlooked for the MVP award. He famously criticized Giannis Antetokounmpo’s game in 2020, claiming that the Greek Freak lacked basketball abilities. His trainer is now chiming in with his two cents, saying that his client should be a multiple MVP winner at this point.
Harden earned the award in 2017–18, the first of three consecutive seasons in which he averaged at least 30 points per game. His Houston Rockets completed the season with an NBA-best 65–17 record. Harden’s argument was aided by the fact that MVP voters have traditionally favored the greatest player on the best team. Antetokounmpo’s MVP performance in 2018–19 was also fuelled by this.
Is it possible to make a case for Harden? Sure. However, there have been other one-time winners in the past who might make a similar case.
James Harden has been nominated for MVP on numerous occasions.
At the 2018 NBA Awards, MVP winner James Harden addresses onstage. Harden’s trainer, Justin Allen, reportedly said that he thinks he has been “robbed” of more MVP awards. | Turner Sports/Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
James Harden was runner-up for NBA MVP in both 2014–15 (behind Stephen Curry) and 2016-17 before winning in 2017–18. (Russell Westbrook). Harden has finished second to Antetokounmpo in 2018-19 and third in 2019–20, behind Antetokounmpo and LeBron James, since winning the trophy.
He was mentioned last season for his role in keeping the Brooklyn Nets alive when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were out with injuries. His campaign was cut short due to a hamstring ailment (he did get one third-place vote).
Harden, on the other hand, is far from the first NBA great to have won just one MVP title. Durant is a well-known one-time recipient among his peers. Most voting media have only chosen all-time greats Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Julius Erving once apiece.
Michael Jordan should have won more than five times on a larger stage. From 2008 through 2013, James earned four MVP honors in five seasons, but he has recently been a victim of voter fatigue.
If there’s one thing the NBA media and fan base have in common, it’s a yearning for different outcomes. They clamor for dynasties, both individual and team, at least until they get them. In essence, in the twenty-first century, it is feasible to make a huge number of people miserable all of the time.
Harden’s coach accused MVP voters of stealing.
Since the NBA stopped down in 2020 due to the epidemic, Justin Allen, a Houston-based trainer, has worked with James Harden. Allen, who owns Houston’s All-en Sports, was featured in the Netflix documentary series Last Chance U.
He comes from a sporting family. His brother, former NFL tight end Dwayne Allen, was a John Mackey Award winner at Clemson, while Justin was a member of the New Mexico State football team.
Harden, in his opinion, should win more than one MVP award. According to the New York Daily News, there are many more.
“I believe he’s been robbed in three of them,” says the narrator. He should be a three- or four-time MVP, in my opinion. You’ve got some fantastic players on your team. And there’s nothing you can say about the winners. But I believe James Harden will be in the discussion until it is time for him to retire.”
“Half of the individuals who have anything to say haven’t played the games in order to comprehend the game. But, both on and off the court, James is a really selfless person.”
James Harden vs. Justin Allen
But, if Harden has a popularity issue, it’s mostly his own.
James Harden is a petty player.
James Harden was fighting with Antetokounmpo in the aftermath of the 2020 NBA All-Player Game for remarks the Milwaukee Bucks star made during the All-Star draft. Kemba Walker was chosen over Harden by Antetokounmpo, who mocked The Beard’s ball-heavy approach.
Harden didn’t think the situation funny during an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.
“I’m not sure what the joke is about. But I didn’t notice it. That kind of thing doesn’t bother me. I simply know they’re not going to be able to tamper with me. They’ll appreciate it more after it’s all said and done. But I wish I could simply run and dunk since I’m 7 feet tall. That does not require any expertise. I need to get serious about learning how to play basketball. What it takes to be skilled. That’ll do it for me any day.”
In 2020, James Harden
Last season, Antetokounmpo earned bragging rights by defeating the Nets on way to an NBA championship. In that series, Harden didn’t do himself any favors by attempting and failing to draw a foul against Antetokounmpo with a flagrant flip.
James Harden is an offensive powerhouse unlike any other in the NBA. If he stays healthy, he’ll always be a contender for NBA MVP. However, a trainer’s robbery allegations are unlikely to boost his reputation among supporters or voters.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
RELATED: James Harden Just Left the Team That Failed to Secure His Trade to the Brooklyn Nets Ahead of Huge Contract Talks
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