Quick — somebody allow me a rewrite of history. There has been a horrible, horrible mistake.
Balls picked the Houston Rockets’ James Harden as the NBA Most Valuable Player, but after what Big Lame James did in a win-or-else Game 6 against the San Antonio Spurs the other night, it wants a do-over immediately. Harden didn’t attempt a single shot until midway through the second period. It’s one thing to stink it up — he finished with 10 points on only 11 field goal tries — but quite another to be bored if not totally disinterested.
No, we saw the real MVP against those same Spurs at Oracle Arena on Sunday, name of Kevin Durant.
The Warriors have had some memorable performances the last three seasons, but none was better timed than Durant’s three minutes, 43 seconds of iron-willed brilliance in the fourth quarter. His team behind 94-85, Stephen Curry and his sore right arm the worse for wear, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson nowhere to be found, Durant did what real MVPs do — lifted a team on his shoulders and carried it across the finish line.
Three-pointer. Dunk. Another cold-blooded 3-pointer, this one from Sunnyvale. Mid-range jump shot. Then Durant blew in for a lay-up and a 101-100 lead. Moments later, he fed Curry on a post-and-cut pass for the knockout punch. And the Warriors won a playoff game that they had absolutely no right to win.
Now that’s an MVP, girls and boys.
THE LIST: Three more reasons why Durant is the real MVP to this point:
3. Best of the best. If LeBron James played against real competition, he would be the pick here. The Cavaliers were 0-8 without him in the regular season. But the Eastern Conference is so dog breath, that rules out James and everyone else there.
Meanwhile, Durant has been the best player on the team with the best record in the best conference. That’s a good place to start, no?
2. All-around dominance. True, Durant sat out 20 games, but what did it matter? By then, he and his team already had set the standard for the league.
The Warriors were 51-11 with Durant around. Throw out the loss in which K.D. was injured — he played only three minutes — and they were on a staggering pace to finish 69-13 with him. That was a full 13 games better than the Cavaliers with James in the lineup.
Furthermore, the Warriors lost five of their first seven games without Durant before they began to figure it out. By comparison, the Spurs were 8-1 when Leonard was unavailable.
1. Win Shares. Balls likes numbers but not enough to get all geeked up about them. If there’s one metric that puts the MVP debate into context, though, it’s the one that measures a player’s contribution to team success.
You know who led the Association in Win Shares per 48 minutes, right? Yep, Durant (.277), who ranked comfortably ahead of runner-up Chris Paul as well as Leonard (third), Harden (fifth), Curry (eighth), Russell Westbrook (10th) and James (11th).
YOU’RE HIRED! The dubyah wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was downright ugly at times, pretty much what one would expect of a team that hadn’t played in six days.
But the Warriors showed they can win a close game under interim coach Mike Brown, who remained unbeaten in seven games this postseason.
Brown had to coach in this one. After Andre Iguodala and his bum left knee pulled up lame, the rotation changed in the second half. Shaun Livingston was on the court at the right time in the fourth quarter, when he contributed back-to-back buckets to the late surge.
Steve Kerr need not come back before he’s absolutely ready.
YOUR TURN: “The Dubs were lucky to win Game 1. Epic meltdown by the Spurs, who may have lost the opportunity to win a game in this series. The long layoff showed yesterday. The Dubs were sleepwalking in the first half. Great comeback win!” Steve Benjamin, Santa Rosa