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Why voting Derrick Rose for NBA MVP might be journalistically dishonest

If you hold a vote for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, meaning you’re a media member, and plan to list Derrick Rose first on your ballot, take a moment to ask yourself why you’re doing that.

Do you really believe Rose is the NBA’s most valuable – and I don’t really care how you define that, as long as you’re not bending the definition you used in previous seasons to fit Rose this year – player? Or do you believe the next logical chapter in his story is an MVP award?

I can’t speak for every reporter on the panel that selects the MVP, but for those of you unfamiliar, here’s how much of the mainstream media believes reporters should operate:

They should stay objective, if not unbiased. They should never inject themselves into a story, just remain neutral observes.

For example, there are even some reporters who didn’t think the media should vote in college football’s AP Poll, because that meant having an active role in which teams play for the national championship.

Of course, like any attempts at hard-and-fast rules, there are exceptions. Voting for the NBA’s MVP, in itself, violates the notion of reporters staying out of a story. However, reporters still choose the award for several reasons. I think the two main reasons are that’s how it’s always been done and reporters simply like doing it. They also justify it by asking themselves, if they didn’t pick the MVP, who would? Many other possible voters – e.g., players, coaches and general managers – have ties to specific players. They can’t remain objective and unbiased. Reporters can.

Besides reporters, who else has the appropriate knowledge of the game and the responsibility to vote fairly?

In a not-very-well-kept secret, I believe many reporters are ignoring that responsibility vote fairly this year.

Rose will win the MVP over LeBron, because Rose has become the hero after LeBron set himself up as the villain last summer.

Reporters like how friendly Rose is. They like how his team is exceeding expectations. They like how hard Rose worked in the offseason to improved. They like how Rose leads. They like how tough Rose seems. They like how Rose is thriving in Chicago, Michael Jordan’s city. They like how a hometown kid is carrying his team. Especially, they like how he’s not LeBron.

 Henry Abbott of TrueHoop best summed up the sentiments of the pro-Rose crowd:

Players like Derrick Rose should be rewarded.

Without a doubt, Rose has a great story.

But at what point does that story become self-fulfilling? Rose’s MVP award will make a fitting next chapter to his career, but will he win it only, or at least in part, because it will make a fitting next chapter to his career?

I have no problem with a voter holding LeBron’s immaturity and selfishness against him. Personally, for the purposes of this award, I wouldn’t hold those negativity personality traits against him anymore than they hurt his and his team’s on-court performance. But if you’ve always believed the MVP should go to a player who excels most on and off the court, I’m fine with that.

I do, however, have a problem with voters who hold themselves up to be bastions of journalistic integrity and are altering their previous criteria for MVP in order to give the award to Rose and his story.

The MVP goes to a player, not a story. The story comes afterward. It shouldn’t be the driving force.

Not to mention, it cheapens Rose’s story if reporters hand him an award he doesn’t deserve so they can continue telling his story. The previous parts of Rose’s rise were authentic. This MVP award will be tainted by the fabricated justifications driving votes toward Rose.

If you vote for Derrick Rose, at least in part because you think the next chapter of his story should include an MVP award, you’re violating journalism’s ethics – especially if, after the fact, you write about how great Rose’s award fits into his story.


  • Apr 13, 20111:52 pm
    by DeWayne


    Did you notice how no one has commented on this article? It’s because it’s worthless slanted journalism. It’s okay because we (Chicago)  know people in Detroit have a complex about us and look to do anything they can discredit us. The best thing about your article is that it was so worthless no one has even bothered to call you on it until now. Why am I commenting you ask? Because sometimes it’s important to let people know when they’re being stupid. For all I know no one has ever told you that. And if no one has ever told you, how would you know? If that’s true it’s my privilege to be the first. I’ll be sure to email you the picture of D Rose holding up his MVP trophy in the second round of the playoffs. Better yet, why don’t you watch? It’s not like there will be any Pistons games on to distract you.

    • Apr 13, 20112:13 pm
      by Bob


      See comment below.

    • Apr 13, 20113:03 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Where in this article did it say that Rose shouldn’t be MVP? It just made the case that the media using ‘narrative’ as a basis for their vote is dishonest because they’re the ones who create the narrative in the first place.

      There are completely justifiable reasons to vote for Rose, this post is just pointing out one reason to vote for him that is not a valid one.

      Read. Think. Then respond.

  • Apr 13, 20112:11 pm
    by Bob


    I think the whole NBA MVP voting is a little whack, but this article makes more confusion than clarity.
    It’s funny, you’re the only one that brought up something about any Chicago/Detroit “complex.” This article brings up NOTHING about hatred with Chicago. If you even read this website you’ll notice that majority of the posts here are quality, unbiased articles with statistical data to back it up. Sometimes it is important to tell people that they are being ignorant.

  • Apr 13, 20112:25 pm
    by Bluto


    I am going to take your own advice DeWayne. You are stupid. On one hand you say people in Detroit have a complex about Chicago, but on the other hand you admit they disagree with the article so much they have not commented on it. But I am sure plenty of people have called you stupid, so I will not have the privilege of being the first.

  • Apr 13, 20112:29 pm
    by Peter D. Brown


    Thanks for bringing a bit of sanity Bob.
    While I agree that there shouldn’t be any journalistic bias towards the MVP voting, i.e. a writer shouldn’t vote for a guy just because it makes a fitting story, I think Rose definitely deserves the award this year. Look at how he steered the Chicago ship when Boozer was out early in the season. And then AGAIN when their other big, Noah, injured his thumb. For people who favor either Lebron or Dwight, let me bring up two points: 1. Lebron is arguably the second most important player ON HIS TEAM 2. Howard vanishes in crunch time.
    Rose has invigorated his team this year and singlehandedly led them to the 1 seed in the East, in a year where no one had them in the top 3 in the East at the beginning of the season. Boston, Miami, or even Orlando were favored to come out on top. Yes, people can argue that statistically, Rose doesn’t deserve MVP. But he’s made the biggest impression on this NBA season, along with the emergence of Blake Griffin, everyone’s animosity for the Heat, and the Melo/Perkins trades that shifted power in the East/West.

    • Apr 13, 20113:24 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Peter, you definitely offer some well-reasoned arguments about why Rose should be MVP.

    • Apr 13, 20114:34 pm
      by Tim


      The best argument against Howard is that his team might not be a contender. Because making a good team great is better than making a bad team good, it is hard to have an MVP not on a contender. Clutch, on the other hand is the most overrated thing in the history of basketball.
      It matters how well a player plays over the course of a game. How well they play in the fourth quarter is no more significant than how well they play in the first. And yet people like to make the end of game statistics have double or even more value. Because they look at a player’s overall stats (which include end of games) and then they look at end of game stats separately on top of that. Then they sometimes weight it even more by saying that those already double counted end of game stats are more important.
      Is it more epic to miss a three midway through the second quarter and then hit one when down two with 5 seconds left in the game than it would be the other way around? Of course. But if you hit that three in the second quarter instead, you don’t even need to take one at the end of the game because you are already up one point so the other team has to foul you instead and put you on the line for easy points instead of a tough basket.
      Coming through in big moments at the end of games makes for great stories and memories. But playing well early and not needing to makes for more wins.
      I’m not saying stats from clutch time should be dismissed. I am saying that they are already counted in a player’s overall stats. If you’re going to judge one player better than another for being more clutch, you should be just as prone to judging players as being better for putting up better stats between let’s say the nine minute and four minute mark of the third quarter.

  • Apr 13, 20112:30 pm
    by Tim


    I agree with your article, but I don’t think it fits. I don’t think many people are changing their criteria to vote Rose as MVP. It might be true if James was a really close runner up, but few people dislike Howard. People vote for Rose because he is the best story of the season, not in order to make a good story to write about.

  • Apr 13, 20112:39 pm
    by LEVI


    @ Pete I live in South Florida. I have watched at least 70 Heat games on live television this season. In my opinion, anybody who genuinely believes that Lebron James is not the unquestioned MVP of the Miami Heat is not watching the games. Watch the games, then start posting your opinions where the whole world can see them. That is how the big boys do it.

  • Apr 13, 20113:07 pm
    by dr eng1ish


    Who exactly are the writers that are supposedly doing this? Marc Stein, JA Adande, Zach Harper, Charles Barkley? Is it really that hard for you to believe that people find D Rose a deserving MVP? Seems like you’re inventing a problem and then railing against it.

  • Apr 13, 20113:44 pm
    by Peter D. Brown


    Sure, I’ll concede to your judgment that Lebron’s the Heat’s most valuable player. But from what I’ve observed, the Heat can’t decide who to go to down the stretch. Is it DWade’s team? Is it Lebron’s? In the Knick game from a month ago when Melo had just arrived in NY, Lebron decided to take the final shot and got blocked by Amare’. There’s definitely a power struggle going on.
    One thing’s for sure: DRose is undoubtedly the face of Chicago’s franchise and the go to guy in crunch time. They have an identity. Everyone on that team knows their role. And Rose’s role is team leader.

  • Apr 13, 20113:44 pm
    by Kamal


    I would vote for Rose or Howard.  Not James.  People like to point out Cleveland’s dismal season as a huge reason why James should be MVP.  Sure the Cavs lost James.  But they also lost Big Z, Shaq, West, and Varejao (due to injury).  That’s their defense right there.  All gone.  And how come James couldn’t lead Miami, a team with better players, to a better record than last year’s Cavs?  Simply, James was a better player last season than this season.
    Howard is the most valuable guy in the league IMO.  He IS the defense.  Points and rebounds are up from last season.  Defensive rating better than last season.  The team is worse but that’s after some very questionable trades.

    I don’t have a problem with it going to Rose based on his team’s success.  But if I had a vote, it would go to Howard.

  • Apr 13, 20113:52 pm
    by Whoneedsastar


    A leader on the #1 defensive team in the NBA, kept the team alive (thriving) while the next two best players were out, and now contending for the #1 overall seed against all expectation. I would also like to introduce the thought of where Chicago would be without Rose (devastated, as no one else could get Noah, Boozer and Deng looks), whereas Miami would float along nicely with Wade and Bosh at the helm (MVP of team vs. MVP of league, which has not been clarified). If people are riding the wave of the popularity contest to choose the MVP, then that is wrong. However, looking over the course of the regular season at what a leader Rose has been to his team and the statistical categories he has contributed in should count as well. The fact he has spent a lot of effort to shore up defense (non-statistical category) SHOULD speak volumes to Pistons fans, in particular.

  • Apr 13, 20114:26 pm
    by DeWayne


    @ Bluto: This is what you just typed:
    “I am going to take your own advice DeWayne. You are stupid.”
    Huh?! Maybe you wanna learn to proof read before you go calling people stupid sport. Or maybe that’s what you MEANT to write which makes your post 10 times funnier to me. Seems like a struck a nerve with you though. Is Dan your big brother or something? Relax champ. He’s a big boy. I’m sure he can take it.
    I’m sure someone has called me stupid in the past, but never to my face.  Interestingly, the vast majority of NBA players, and coaches (with the exception of Stan Van Gundy) have come out in support of Rose for MVP. Are you suggesting that they have no idea what goes into being an MVP? That’s what I find most interesting about the article…it seems to suggest that ALL these people that have been associated with the NBA don’t really know what they’re talking about, but Dan here? Dan’s going to be the one the injects some sanity into the MVP race and set everyone straight. It’s laughable, just like you calling me stupid and thinking it would upset me. Instead I’ll enjoy the spectacle that is D Rose in the playoffs while you read the Piston’s blog. Now go sit down while grown-ups are talking.
    @ Bob: You were right about one thing….I haven’t read a single article other than this one and after this why would I? I see this article as obviously slanted and biased because unlike the stat geeks that have been outraged at Rose’s candidacy it offers no quantifiable data AGAINST Rose. You said yourself that most of the articles here are unbiased, but you didn’t say that was so with this one. I could be completely wrong and this may have been Dan’s attempt at unbiased journalism, but if it was he’s failed miserably. He did this by condemning any writer that doesn’t see this issue the way he does as “dishonest”. That’s a pretty strong accusation considering all the ACTUAL journalists his post is condemning. It’s hilarious to read a “faux journalist” questioning the integrity of people who actually have credentials along with access to the players, GM’s and coaches, and can get informed information the average person can only dream of. I wonder if he’s talked to any players at all and seen how they felt. Has he spoken to a writer and asked why they’re voting the way the are? If not saying THEY’RE being dishonest for the way they’re voting seems pretty ignorant to me.

    • Apr 13, 20114:40 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      DeWayne, I’ll make this very simple for you: This post is not about who should win the MVP. This post says it’s wrong for journalists who claims to be objective to vote for Rose because they believe the next chapter of his story should include an MVP award. This post does not say journalists should not vote for Rose.

  • Apr 13, 20115:27 pm
    by Asshole that supports Republicans in Wisconson


    Dan & Patrick,

    Love your blog and read it daily.  I am a big NBA fan and follow all the news closely.  I am also a big Pistons and Bulls fan.  (I know, I’m a walking oxymoron!)  I can agree with your premise that the voters need to not vote for the sake of a great story. 

    However, in this case, Derrick Rose has made the most compelling case for what is right about the NBA and sports in general.  And he has done it every minute of every game of the year.  Let me put it this way:  he has been so amazing this year, that if you put him on the Pistons, I honestly believe that they would be in the mix for a championship.  But I don’t know if I could say that for any other one player in the league.

    • Apr 13, 20117:15 pm
      by Dan Feldman



      ATSRIW, I definitely agree that there are legitimate reasons to vote for Rose. I wouldn’t vote for him, but that’s beside the point. If someone votes for Rose because of those valid reasons, I’m fine with that. I just don’t think all the reasons being used are valid.

  • Apr 13, 20116:34 pm
    by big perm


    writing on the basis of feldmans comments in todays espn 5-on-5 that Rose will play awful after the first round because of tough defenses.  Really? Do you really think that any of this years opposing defenses are better than the 2009 Celtics in which Rose put up 39 in his first career p-off game!!  Really Feldman, watch some games and stop being a chicago hater.
    Much love, krueger

    • Apr 13, 20116:57 pm
      by Tim


      I don’t expect Rose to play awful. But there will be a difference in how keyed in on Rose defenses are when he is a just breaking out young player and when he is reigning MVP. I hope that if Chicago and Miami end up playing each other, James is guarding Rose. I don’t think there is a single other player in the league who could give him as much trouble. Also, for Rose to brilliant over a full series, Boozer will probably have to step up from the underachieving player he has been this year even when healthy. Otherwise, Rose has to be a volume shooter, which he may be able to do efficiently for one or two games, but probably not for a full series.

      • Apr 13, 20117:24 pm
        by Dan Feldman


        Tim, my guess is Wade would be the primary defender on Rose. But LeBron would get minutes on Rose, too. LeBron and Wade would get breaks. Rose wouldn’t.

    • Apr 13, 20117:22 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      That Celtics team struggled with the Bulls before losing to the Magic. Boston, for whatever reason, wasn’t at its best.

      Also, besides the fact that you cherry picked one game, Rose’s numbers in that series were inflated by seven overtime periods. Per 48 minutes of game time (because an ability to play more minutes is important for star players), Rose averaged 17.9 points and 5.8 assists. That’s solid, but unspectacular relative to the expectations Rose will have by the second round this year.

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