Question of the day: If LeBron James is the league's MVP, who is the second most valuable player?
Barry Stavro, Los Angeles Times
The answer is obvious. Kevin Durant had a terrific regular season, and he was a magician at getting to the free throw line in the Lakers-Thunder series, but he only shot 35% from the field in that series.
That other, older guy, the one who finished third in MVP voting, Kobe Bryant, carried the Lakers past the Thunder. When he started guarding Russell Westbrook in Game 5, it helped turn the series for the Lakers. Oh, and he scored 39 points in one game and 32 points in the clincher in the Thunder series.
Then Sunday in Game 1 against the Jazz, Bryant scored 13 points in the final 7 1/2 minutes as the Lakers came back to squeak by the Jazz.
I know MVPs are regular season awards. But when it really matters, there are two MVPs, one in each conference. And no surprise, they're still playing. LeBron and Kobe.
Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel
The official polls and Hubble telescopes identified Kevin Durant as the speck who finished second to LeBron James in the MVP, ahem, race.
As if getting lapped by LeBron isn't humbling enough, I still don't classify Durant as the league's second-best player this season.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I voted this way: 1) James; 2) Dwight Howard; 3) Kobe Bryant; 4) Durant; 5) Steve Nash.
I'll go with Howard, as provincial as it sounds. Why? Simple.
Sure, Howard was the reason the Magic finished with the NBA's second-best record (behind James' Cavs).
But to me, anybody who is 24 and has nine cars and a mansion and enough cash to buy an island...AND still cares enough to actually repeat as the Defensive Player of the Year....that guy warrants the runner-up distinction, if not knighthood.
KC Johnson, Chicago Tribune
LeBron James has taken over the mantle of the game's best player. A banged-up Kobe Bryant is second.
But if you want to break down most valuable player at its core, Dwyane Wade has to either head the discussion or fall a close second to James. Without Wade, the Miami Heat might not make the Development League playoffs. What makes Wade's accomplishments on an inferior roster even more impressive is how he slices and dices defenses with those highlights-at-11 drives despite everybody in the building knowing Wade is getting the ball.
James has an All-Star in Antawn Jamison, shooters in Mo Williams and Anthony Parker and an aging Shaquille O'Neal. Bryant has an all-world talent in Pau Gasol and occasionally prolific scorers Ron Artest and Lamar Odom. Wade has . . . Michael Beasley?
Lore has Wade single-handedly carrying the Heat to the 2006 NBA Finals. His performance this past season should be held in equally high regard.
Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel
What LeBron James won Sunday apparently was the NBA's Offensive Most Valuable Player, because there is no way Dwight Howard should have placed fourth in the media poll, as he did.
Yes, Howard already was taken care of with his Defensive Player of the Year, but how can you lead the league in blocked shots and rebounding and rate just fourth best overall?
For all the Magic's three-point shooting and scoring, Orlando is anchored every bit as much by Howard as Cleveland is by LeBron.
In fact, when you look at the MVP balloting as a whole, every player who received votes, with the exception of Howard, is scoring specialist. Apparently, when it comes to the MVP vote, the NBA is a half-court game.
Photo: LeBron James at NBA MVP award ceremony Sunday. Credit: Phil Long / Associated Press.