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Tracy McGrady thinks he should have won MVP in ‘03 over prime Tim Duncan

This isn't really about MVP - it's about something bigger
Tracy McGrady still feels he should've been the 2003 MVP over Tim Duncan

Tracy McGrady still feels he should've been the 2003 MVP over Tim Duncan

I’m not going to comment on whether Tracy McGrady was deserving of the MVP in ‘03 over a prime Tim Duncan. I don’t want to dive in on the depths of that race because there’s no point pinning their joint greatness against each other. So I’m here to talk about the unfair nature of that award and what it would have meant to McGrady’s very good career.

Life's unfair for an MVP candidate

MVP candidates lose acclaim for having All-Star teammates and an excellent record (1st-3rd seed), while another candidate gets looked over for having only a solid record (4th-8th) with no help. This is the one thing no sports athlete can ever do: please everybody.

It makes sense. If you don't possess a large majority of "ownership" over a product, then why would you receive a large majority of praise for the results of said product. There is only a certain amount of credit to go around. So it’s this principle that pushes bands to break up and what promotes competitiveness and innovation in every industry. People want to be "the guy."

So where’s the balance?

The MVP decision requires a sprinkle of a narrative push. Without narrative, it would just be a rational pick of the best player that season, and we know that doesn’t work. ‘This just in, Michael Jordan is still the most valuable player in the league’ as a headline loses a little bit of stream over time. That’s why Karl Malone is sitting in his Utah home far away from any school zones admiring his most significant career achievement; a ‘Well Someone Else Has To Get It Now’ MVP award.

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Since the beginning of the millennium, the only MVP winner on a team that wasn’t a top 3 seed was Russell Westbrook in '17, and that was the heaviest narrative push of all time. He single-handedly created the sensation over triple-doubles and was feuding with Kevin Durant during the whole time. It was awesome. He was awesome. Just not as great as James Harden.

So now that the narrative element is understood, the next factor seems to be about candidates being surrounded by a goldilocks level of talent. Too much, and the results matter less. Too little, and the team results mean you don’t get looked at.

It all gets too hard after a while, which is why the award has lost some of its prestige. Just like the Naismith Hall Of Fame, being one of the select few to reach this achievement does not dictate the worthiness of a player’s career because they are both set up in a way to ensure everyone gets their turn.

That’s why when Tracy says stuff like this, he’s trying to overcompensate for lacking the thing that really validates players, the ring. But he never came close - no, the Spurs stint doesn't count - giving him so much more to gain from an MVP. 

But to answer that question - no, T-Mac was not close to Tim Duncan at the peak of both players’ powers. Not even close.

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