Morey has never sounded this whiny about it, though.
In 2015, Harden (whose Rockets went 56-26) finished runner-up to Stephen Curry (whose Warriors went 67-15). Last season, Harden (whose Rockets went 55-27) finished runner-up to Russell Westbrook (whose Thunder went 47-35).
That’s apparently too much for Morey to handle.
“I don’t know if this is a good process,” Morey told The Crossover. “The ones that are decided by players or executives or media, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I honestly don’t think there’s a good process. You could argue for eliminating the awards altogether. I don’t really see a good way to do it that doesn’t have major issues. I like clean answers. If there’s not going to be a set criteria and there’s going to be issues with how it’s structured, for me it might be better to not have it.”
“I didn’t like how a different MVP criteria was used this year, compared to the last 55 years, to fit more of a marketing slogan. People thought a different criteria for selecting the MVP this year was the way to go.”
“Given that the criteria seems to be shifting away from winning, I would guess that [adding Paul] probably doesn’t help anyone’s chances on our team,” Morey acknowledged. “That said, I don’t think anybody really cares [going forward]. James definitely cared and I think we all cared [about the 2017 MVP]. But we’ve moved on since the award isn’t focused on winning any more. Let’s just win and not worry about it.”
Do some voters get caught up in arbitrary achievements like triple-doubles? Yes. Do voters too often lazily reward the best player on the best team? Yes.
But I also think voters picked the right MVP in 2015 and 2017.
My MVP criterion is simple: Which player contributed most to winning? That’s obviously difficult to assess, but the question is straightforward. I believe Curry contributed most to winning in 2015 and Westbrook contributed most to winning in 2017. That Curry’s team won 11 more games than Harden’s in 2015 and Westbrook’s won eight fewer than Harden’s in 2017 had more to do with their teammates than anything else, and MVP is an individual award.
I think Morey is capable of separating individual performance from team performance and doesn’t believe everything he says. He’s a pretty smart guy. It’s possible he’s just this convinced Harden was robbed, but it seems more likely this is strategic. Morey is building loyalty with a useful ally in team-building and trying to halt 2018 MVP talk before it begins – important as Harden and Chris Paul learn to play together, a process that will likely include a few bumps in the road.
But we also only know what Morey said, not what he truly thinks. And on that basis, he just sounds like a crybaby upset he didn’t get his way.