Debunking NBA Myths: Was Jordan ‘rusty’ in 1995?

  1. that Kobe Bryant was robbed of MVPs – I’ve already answered that here.
  2. that Jordan was ‘rusty’ in his 1995 comeback and that’s why he lost to the Orlando Magic

Let me explain the second one. Jordan fans like to imagine that he would win 8 straight championships in a row if he didn’t retire. For 1994 – I agree that with Jordan on the team, they probably would have beaten the Knicks and gone on to beat Hakeem’s Rockets (who only had one other all star in Otis Thorpe) that year and Jordan would have won his 4th NBA championship in 1994 instead of 1996.

However this doesn’t apply to 1995. Because we already know what happened in 1995. Jordan came back late in the season, and then played the entire playoffs and lost to Shaq/Penny’s Magic in 6 games. But Jordan was rusty right? he only played 17 games in the regular season!

Uhh.. nope. Jordan came back pretty much just as strong as he left it and the stats back this up.

In 1995, Jordan performed better in the playoffs than he did in 1996. Crazy right? But he won 72 games in 1996 and he lost to the Magic in 1995! How can that be?

Because Jordan fans don’t want to admit that basketball is a team game. its not based on one individual superstar, even though the NBA is marketed that way. The loss of Horace Grant (ironically, to the Magic) in 1995 left the Bulls without an interior presence to defend Shaq. Horace Grant wasn’t just a role player – he was an all star and the second best player on the team after Pippen in 1994.
In 1996, the Bulls acquired Dennis Rodman and they got the inside presence they needed to beat the Magic that year.

This is the concept that Jordan and Kobe fans don’t understand: it’s not about one individual player putting up massive scoring stats; the rest of your team has to be good as well. Rings are a team achievement and so is MVP in fact; MVPs are always given to the player on a top 3 seeded team (except for Westbrook because he averaged a triple double) so in fact even for MVP which is a so called individual award, having a good team still matters. That’s why Kobe was not robbed of MVP in 2005/2006 – his team wasn’t good enough and that matters in MVP voting.

That’s how Jordan put up better stats in 1995, and still lost. He definitely was not rusty.



Who is the best NBA player to never win MVP?

My votes are for

  1. Jerry West – #10 on my top 10 players all time and #3 on my all time SG list, should have won MVP in 1970 imo
  2. Elgin Baylor – in my top 20 players all time and #4 on my all time SF list, never won MVP because he played in the Russell/Wilt era
  3. John Stockton – in my top 25 players all time, and #3 on my all time PG list, played in the Jordan/Magic era which might be a reason why he never won MVP
  4. Rick Barry – in my top 25 players all time, and #7 on my all time SF list, I already said in another answer that he might have gotten robbed of MVP in 1975 due to his unpopularity
  5. John Havlicek – in my top 25 players all time and #6 on my all time SF list. Unlike Barry, Hondo had a lower peak but greater longevity, and plus played in an era dominated by Russell/Wilt/Kareem
  6. Dwayne Wade – in my top 30 players all time, and #4 on my all time SG list, some people argue he was robbed of MVP in 2009
  7. Chris Paul – in my top 30 players all time, and #5 on my all time PG list, some people argue he was robbed of MVP in 2008
  8. Jason Kidd – in my top 35 players all time, and #6 on my all time PG list, its debateable that he should have won MVP in 2002/2003 but Duncan took it away from him
  9. George Gervin – in my top 40 players all time, #6 on my all time SG list, Gervin had his best years in the Magic/Bird/Kareem era so didn’t get to win MVP
  10. Patrick Ewing – in my top 50 players all time, #10 on my all time C list, Ewing just played at a time where there were so many other great Cs (Hakeem, Robinson, Shaq) and he’s probably the weakest out of those 4.

Debunking NBA Myths: Was Kobe ‘robbed’ of MVPs?

It’s true that he was never the unquestionable best player in the league. During his prime (2003–2011) he usually had Duncan/Lebron to compete with, and to a lesser extent Nash and Dirk who also competed with Kobe for MVPs during that time.

Since a lot of Kobe fans like to talk about his MVPs getting stolen from him by other players let’s take a look at the MVP voting shares during Kobe’s prime (which I define to be 2005–2010 ish) and lets also look at win shares since that is an objectively good look for being the ‘best player’ comparisons. If you were the unquestioned best player, you should be either #1 or #2 in win shares, and you should be either #1 or #2 spot for MVP voting.

Ok so 2005 the year that Kobe fans think Nash ‘stole’ the award from Kobe. Uhh… Kobe wasn’t even on the MVP voting list this year. So.. I’m gonna say that Kobe wasn’t the best player this year since he wasn’t even on the voting list and moreover didn’t even make the playoffs that year.

Ok how about 2006? Did Nash steal from Kobe this year? Well … not exactly. Kobe was 4th in MVP voting. Hard to make a case that someone stole from you when you were 4th place. He was 4th in win shares as well. Also, he lost in the first round of playoffs that year.

Ok how about 2007? Did Dirk steal the MVP away from Kobe? Kobe was in third place this year. He was 3rd in win shares (tied with Duncan). I’m going to say no, at least not any more than Duncan was stolen from that year.

So in 2008 Kobe won his only MVP. He wasn’t the first in win shares though (that would be CP3) – Kobe was 4th in win shares that year despite winning the MVP. Hard to make a case for being the unquestioned best player in the league when you beat your 2nd place finisher by only 200 points and was 4th in win shares.

I can’t say Lebron robbed Kobe this year because even though Kobe was second place, Lebron beat him by a 417+ point margin in MVP voting and Kobe was 6th in win shares.

And in 2010, the last year of Kobe’s true prime, he was 3rd in MVP voting, and way below in win shares as well.

So there you have it, Kobe has never led the league in both MVP voting and win shares at the same time (or even be in second place for both), in fact he was only top 2 in MVP voting for 2 years (2008, 2009) and thus I cannot consider him the unquestioned best player in the league in either his prime or his career.

Why was Kobe so low in MVP voting? Was there some kind of media conspiracy against him? No, the truth is during 2005-2007 he didn’t win MVP because he wasn’t on a good team – and MVPs are almost always from a top 3 seeded team, the only exception being Russell Westbrook in 2017 (because he averaged a triple double), and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1976 (because MVPs were voted on by players back then). That’s the simple facts, there was no media conspiracy against Kobe at all. Scoring leader and having the best stats in the league is not the main criteria for MVP – Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50pts a game in 1962 and wasn’t MVP. Jordan averaged 37pts a game in 1987, wasn’t MVP. James Harden averaged 36pts a game in 2019, wasn’t MVP. Why aren’t people talking about conspiracies for those players?