Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Chicago Bulls [Print without images]

Thursday, March 3, 2011
Rose might have inside track for MVP

By Brian Windhorst

LeBron James
Politics shouldn't matter, but MVP voters don't live in a vacuum and many didn't like "The Decision."
Most Valuable Player voting is often more complicated that it looks. Primarily there is no proper definition for what it means, so every few years that ambiguity creates some delicious controversy when it comes time to make the selection.

After back-to-back landslides it appears there may be a genuine race this season between Derrick Rose and LeBron James. Depending on how the word "value" is applied, of course.

From this corner Rose looks like he might have the inside track to unseat the two-time MVP with the season headed for the stretch run.

James is making a strong bid himself to win again, as he continues to put up excellent numbers while helping the Heat contend for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. He's been the conference's player of the month for the last two months, an indication that his team is winning a lot and he's been a central part of it. Those are both major requisites to win the MVP.

However, Rose has two things going for him that James does not. The first is that he hasn't had the star power in his supporting cast that James has enjoyed this season. The Bulls may indeed prove to be the more complete team than the Heat when it matters, but with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, James plays alongside two more All-Stars than Rose.

Whether it should matter or not, it impacts the way voters evaluate a player's worth to his team. Rose also gets bonus points for keeping the Bulls right on the heels of the Heat and Celtics despite injuries to Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah.

Rose's second advantage is a political one. The way James handled his free agency has impacted how he's viewed in the league. In a perfect world the voters would choose a winner in a vacuum, but that isn't the case. James lost some votes in July that he probably won't get back. Meanwhile, Rose's rapid development and his role in pulling the Bulls to the ranks of the elite have not gone unnoticed.

There is still a significant portion of the season to go but if Rose continues his strong play, especially in closing out games, he may be hoisting the hardware in May.