As much attention as the regular season MVP winner gets, many people say that it doesn’t matter as much as winning the Finals MVP. Being given the award is an indication that a player performed exceptionally on the biggest stage and under the brightest lights.
Winning the Finals MVP can push legacies into further heights, even for the most accomplished of players. So, how will winning the 2018 Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP affect the legacies of the three biggest stars in these Finals?
The King has won almost every single possible award there is in the NBA, and he’s done so multiple times for quite a lot of them. You would think that with all he has accomplished, and after 15 seasons in the league, that he has nothing left to prove. Yet, he does, and it is almost literally the greatest challenge left for him to conquer – to be considered the greatest basketball player of all time over Michael Jordan (and more and more people are moving to LeBron’s side every time he plays).
If the Cleveland Cavaliers somehow win the championship over the Golden State Warriors, it is all but guaranteed that LeBron James will be named the Finals MVP. That may be enough to convince even more people that he is the G.O.A.T. In fact, LeBron probably has the best shot of any player in NBA history to be the first player to win the Finals MVP as a member of the losing team since Jerry West won the first ever award in 1969. He probably should have won it in their 2015 loss to the Warriors when he averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists in six games, but the award was given to Andre Iguodala. If he continues his otherworldly playoff form while making the Finals a competitive series despite the overwhelming odds, he might actually win the award even if the Warriors win the title.
He says that it doesn’t really bother him that he hasn’t won a Finals MVP and that he doesn’t care about winning it as long as the golden State Warriors win, but Steph Curry arguably has the most to gain from winning the Finals MVP this year.
Steph on not having a finals MVP pic.twitter.com/w4gFHR4xg3
— Team Wardell SC30 (@GloballyCurry30) May 30, 2018
Curry is a two-time MVP and two-time champion, but he has yet to win the “more important” MVP award. The only unanimous MVP winner in history has been either hurt or overshadowed by teammates in the Warriors’ previous three Finals appearances, and it has fueled some chatter about his ability to perform in the most important games of the year.
The playoffs, and most especially the Finals, is how the all-time greats are ultimately judged for their legacies. If Steph Curry can somehow splash his way to the Finals MVP while playing on the same court as the two best players in the world, he will be able to wipe out perhaps the only legitimate criticism left for his detractors to say while further solidifying his place among the very best in history.
If Steph Curry has the most to gain from winning the Finals MVP, then Kevin Durant is on the opposite side of the fence. There is nothing that Kevin Durant can accomplish with this Warriors group that can change how people view his decision to join a Warriors team that had a 73-9 regular season record and eliminated his Oklahoma City Thunder team in the 2016 playoffs.
For many people, everything he achieves while with the Warriors must be noted with an asterisk at the end. Yes, he is still considered as the second best player. Yes, he finally won a championship. Yes, he won the Finals MVP last year. Yes, in all likelihood, he will win another championship and Finals MVP again this year. But nothing he accomplishes amazes people anymore.
Amazement is defined as a feeling of overwhelming surprise or astonishment. People remember the all-time greats because of how amazing they were to watch and how improbable their feats were. That’s what makes sports fun. With Durant on the Warriors, all this winning and success feels routine. He says he doesn’t care about what people think as long as he is winning, and that is fine. Maybe time will be kind to Durant and we will eventually look back and marvel at his accomplishments. But for fans of the sport and of the NBA today, it is anything but fine.