The players have voted, and James Harden, not Stephen Curry, is their MVP.
In a deviation from the league's official vote, the Rockets' star guard was named Most Valuable Player at the first NBA Players' Awards, broadcast by BET Tuesday night. Harden beat out Curry, LeBron James (who was a no-show at the show's taping), Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook (both also M.I.A.) for the honors.
“To my peers, I appreciate this vote,” Harden said. “It means a lot.”
Fans and media alike debated the tight MVP race all season, with Curry and Harden making strong cases for the award. Curry was the best player on the best team and eventual champion Warriors, Harden was the best player on a team with an inarguably thinner supporting cast.
At All-Star weekend, Kevin Durant took a stand on the matter of award voting, explaining that reporters have too much power in the selection process. The NBPA's awards, first announced in April, empower the players to vote for their peers, existing as a philosophical counterpart to Durant's stance and a cousin to the NBA's awards, which are voted on by media.
NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and president Chris Paul organized the event, held in Las Vegas at The Rio's Penn & Teller theater, to align with the players union's annual summer meetings.
Other award-winners included Paul (the Oscar Robertson Visionary Award), DeAndre Jordan (Defensive Player of the Year) and Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich (Coach you most want to play for).
Curry didn't leave empty-handed. The reigning NBA MVP won the Clutch Performer and Hardest to Guard awards, as well as accepting the Best Home Court Advantage award on behalf of Warriors fans and Oracle Arena.
- Jeremy Woo