Why voting Derrick Rose for NBA MVP might be journalistically dishonest


If you hold a vote for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, meaning you’re a media member, and plan to list Derrick Rose first on your ballot, take a moment to ask yourself why you’re doing that.

Do you really believe Rose is the NBA’s most valuable – and I don’t really care how you define that, as long as you’re not bending the definition you used in previous seasons to fit Rose this year – player? Or do you believe the next logical chapter in his story is an MVP award?

I can’t speak for every reporter on the panel that selects the MVP, but for those of you unfamiliar, here’s how much of the mainstream media believes reporters should operate:

They should stay objective, if not unbiased. They should never inject themselves into a story, just remain neutral observes.

For example, there are even some reporters who didn’t think the media should vote in college football’s AP Poll, because that meant having an active role in which teams play for the national championship.

Of course, like any attempts at hard-and-fast rules, there are exceptions. Voting for the NBA’s MVP, in itself, violates the notion of reporters staying out of a story. However, reporters still choose the award for several reasons. I think the two main reasons are that’s how it’s always been done and reporters simply like doing it. They also justify it by asking themselves, if they didn’t pick the MVP, who would? Many other possible voters – e.g., players, coaches and general managers – have ties to specific players. They can’t remain objective and unbiased. Reporters can.

Besides reporters, who else has the appropriate knowledge of the game and the responsibility to vote fairly?

In a not-very-well-kept secret, I believe many reporters are ignoring that responsibility vote fairly this year.

Rose will win the MVP over LeBron, because Rose has become the hero after LeBron set himself up as the villain last summer.

Reporters like how friendly Rose is. They like how his team is exceeding expectations. They like how hard Rose worked in the offseason to improved. They like how Rose leads. They like how tough Rose seems. They like how Rose is thriving in Chicago, Michael Jordan’s city. They like how a hometown kid is carrying his team. Especially, they like how he’s not LeBron.

 Henry Abbott of TrueHoop best summed up the sentiments of the pro-Rose crowd:

"Players like Derrick Rose should be rewarded."

Without a doubt, Rose has a great story.

But at what point does that story become self-fulfilling? Rose’s MVP award will make a fitting next chapter to his career, but will he win it only, or at least in part, because it will make a fitting next chapter to his career?

I have no problem with a voter holding LeBron’s immaturity and selfishness against him. Personally, for the purposes of this award, I wouldn’t hold those negativity personality traits against him anymore than they hurt his and his team’s on-court performance. But if you’ve always believed the MVP should go to a player who excels most on and off the court, I’m fine with that.

I do, however, have a problem with voters who hold themselves up to be bastions of journalistic integrity and are altering their previous criteria for MVP in order to give the award to Rose and his story.

The MVP goes to a player, not a story. The story comes afterward. It shouldn’t be the driving force.

Not to mention, it cheapens Rose’s story if reporters hand him an award he doesn’t deserve so they can continue telling his story. The previous parts of Rose’s rise were authentic. This MVP award will be tainted by the fabricated justifications driving votes toward Rose.

If you vote for Derrick Rose, at least in part because you think the next chapter of his story should include an MVP award, you’re violating journalism’s ethics – especially if, after the fact, you write about how great Rose’s award fits into his story.