NBA could learn from CFL

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:39 PM ET

Kobe Bryant's coronation as league MVP is expected on Wednesday.

Long considered the best player in the NBA, the Lakers guard now has been deemed its most indispensable.

Just like there were arguments in the past when Kobe was overlooked, the same arguments have resurfaced.

In terms of value to a team, no one in basketball is as valuable as New Orleans' Chris Paul, by far the game's premier point guard.

Paul has made David West an all-star, Byron Scott coach of the year, has lit a fire under Tyson Chandler and has made people in the Big Easy feel at ease as he orchestrates the Hornets attack.

Value is a judgment, it has no parameters and no discernible features to separate worth.

It is so subjective and so open to criticism and second-guessing that it's a waste of time even debating it.

What leagues such as the NBA should do is not ask voters to select a most valuable player, but rather its most outstanding player.

The CFL doesn't get a lot of things right, but the league honours its most outstanding player, which is the right thing and only thing to do.

You can argue numbers, how numbers are posted and interpret them, but there's no judgment call.

Bryant, you can argue, has been the NBA's top player for quite some time, but his image, his behaviour, his litigation over an alleged rape incident, clouded all judgment.

There simply was no way Kobe could have won because there was no way he could win the public relations battle.

Kobe had no such baggage this season, which in the end meant his long-overdue recognition as MVP was a foregone conclusion.

"I told him it's a tribute to us, as a team," Lamar Odom told reporters as the Lakers opened their second-round series against the Utah Jazz yesterday.

"The team got better."

Kobe and team never have been spoken of in the same sentence, so dismiss Odom's remarks as Kobe-coddling.

The NBA breeds a me-first culture and no one is as selfish as Kobe.

"The way the NBA is structured, it's built on superstar players," teammate Derek Fisher, a class act in the truest sense, said when asked about MVP recognition.

"The guys on good teams get the benefit of the doubt," he said. "The guys on good teams who are the all-stars and the MVPs.

"When you've got great individual numbers, as well as the team numbers, to be No. 1 in the West, it's hard to argue."

Citing anonymous sources, the Los Angeles Times broke news of Kobe's MVP award late Friday night.

The NBA likes to award the award in front of the player's home crowd. That is why it's a near-certainty that David Stern will present Kobe with the Maurice Podoloff Trophy on Wednesday.

"It means a lot to me," Bryant said. "It's special because of the way it's voted on, making teammates better.

"It means I'm doing good things. I'm putting us in position to win."

The same could be said for Paul, an MVP in waiting whose day will arrive.

NAMES TO PONDER

There is plenty of time before July 1 arrives, a date when players become either restricted or unrestricted free agents, when players can opt out or decide to stick around.

Players such as Elton Brand, Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis, Corey Maggette, Shawn Marion, Antawn Jamison, and others, may be available, but then again they may not.

If you're a Raptors fan and you're trying to figure out what Bryan Colangelo will do this off-season when he simply has to do something to rejig his roster, consider that Marion is Colangelo's ideal player.

This isn't to say that Marion will bolt the Miami Heat, but the Matrix is precisely what the Raptors need.

And when you need something, you explore all options.

BRIEFLY

Never thought we'd hear Rafer Alston mentioned as irreplaceable, but the Houston Rockets cite Alston's health as a key downfall in their series loss to Utah ... Jamaal Magloire had absolutely no impact in Dallas and enters unrestricted free agency with more question marks than DNP CDs.


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