North American sports have long had a wide divide between the regular season and the playoffs. Most of them have had an award for the postseason MVP, and sometimes an award specifically for the MVP of the championship series (something the NBA in particular has done). And it’s generally been understood that league MVP awards, which are typically voted on after the regular season, are not about what happens in the playoffs. But, with all that said, prominent sports brand SB Nation decided to run a piece Thursday that was initially headlined as “NBA MVP is doomed to fully become a regular season award”:
NBA MVP is doomed to fully become a regular season award https://t.co/QZ2o86nQhw
— SB Nation (@SBNation) June 8, 2023
That piece outlines past NBA MVP history and how those players have done in the playoffs, which often has not been ultimate success. But that’s besides the point when it comes to the specific voting on this award. The NBA MVP voting is conducted by a panel of 100 voters across the U.S. and Canada, and it takes place at the conclusion of the regular season. (That’s how Mark Jackson was already shamed for it.) This trophy already is a “regular season award.” So logic would suggest that it cannot be “doomed to fully become” that.
That’s how the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid was announced as this year’s MVP on May 2, still relatively early in the playoffs. And that’s not about playoff performance being considered. It’s about the lag between vote collection and result revelation. But beyond that, the SB Nation piece here also hurts its own credibility with an explicit admission of the author’s lack of interest in sports history (and that’s before we get to the glaring and obvious hyphen omission that hurts the eyes):
The first ever NBA MVP was handed out in 1956 to Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks. There were six teams in the league at the time and I don’t really understand how the playoffs worked that season and refuse to figure it out for this piece.
It also offers a wild and unsupported claim that postseason history has been considered in the past:
In 2021, Giannis was essentially disqualified from winning the MVP, as it is purportedly a regular season award (but history has shown us voters are not immune from considering postseason failure for candidates).
That piece is from SB Nation user @Abe_Beame. That user has three total posts (dating back through May 16) displayed on their “recent” page. But the individual origin of it isn’t as important as the overall SB Nation brand’s desire to feature it.
Since its beginnings, SB Nation has offered a platform for anyone to post articles about sports, especially on particular team sites. They’ve then sometimes gotten in trouble for (and paid out settlements over) trying to get employee-level work out of contributors who did not sign up for (and were not adequately compensated for) that level of work. But, beyond the team site posts, they’ve often tried to have a notable level of national discussion on the main SB Nation homepage and Twitter feed. However, that has gotten much more difficult with their massive ongoing and repeated cuts of their notable sports personalities over the past four years, and with key managers’ admissions of what they don’t know about the areas they’re supposedly overseeing. (Including “I have no idea who that is” on Nick Saban.)
From the perspective of an era where many publications define success or failure based solely on the number of people who click a link, this article probably was not disastrous for SB Nation. As of 5 p.m. Eastern Thursday, that @SBNation tweet had 26 replies, 95 retweets, and 12 likes, significantly more in all respects than anything else that account posted Thursday. We can’t see their full website analytics, but it does seem likely that this worked out fine for them from a traffic perspective. But it remains a piece asking a nonsensical and counterfactual question, and one that does not even mention the relevant fact in question about when this voting takes place. But that seems to be the level of quality and discourse they’re going for at the moment.
Update, June 9: The piece has since been changed to carry a more reasonable headline of “Pushing for NBA MVP isn’t the best path to a championship,” and SB Nation’s initial tweet of the story has been deleted. But the text of the piece looks largely the same.