The Modern Devaluation of Defense in Sports

Defense wins championships. Offense wins MVP. As we near the end of regular season basketball, the MVP of the National Basketball Association becomes more and more clear. Here’s a hint, it’s probably not going to be James Harden. It’s going to be the first guy who’s averaging a triple double since 1962. And he’s rightfully earned it.

Now I’m going to say something that will piss off a lot of fans while wearing my Colin Cowherd mask. His stats are padded and his triple doubles are engineered. I still think that he deserves it, but I think a lot of fans need to be aware that three beautiful numbers cover up a lot of ugly reality.

Imagine you and your friend or significant other are deciding where to eat for date night. You have the nice fancy prime rib place that gives you a giant slab of meat cooked to perfection for 25 bucks. Next door you have the place that serves glazed salmon over a bed of quinoa salad, also delicious, also 25 bucks. You haven’t had beef in months. You know where you’re eating and you also know which restaurant is Russell Westbrook. But you also know which meal is better for you.

I’m not a Russell Westbrook hater but I do consider myself a contrarian at times. I don’t deny his effort levels displayed consistently night in night out — in my opinion he deserves MVP solely because of that. But a part of me feels like we should keep in mind that this is a two-way game, and having Harden and Westbrook being the frontrunners by having their teammates assist them with putting up pretty boy stats just doesn’t do enough for me. Both players are notorious for their offensive production, but both players are also notorious for their knack of taking off plays on defense.

Rewind to last year, when the article of How Stephen Curry is Ruining My Son’s Basketball Team became newsworthy and had people commentating left and right. A good number of people had agreed, saying impressionable kids are becoming more trigger happy in their own basketball games, trying to emulate their role model. Comparing last year to this year, I do need to point out that Curry is no defensive ace, but nobody ever questions his effort and willingness on defense. Meanwhile our likely MVP has less defended 3 point shots than Deandre Jordan, with only Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside (centers) trailing him. Our MVP runner up is also notorious for investing almost all his effort on one side of the ball while pretending to get sniped every possession in an attempt to get free throw points. How’s that for team fundamentals?

And this shit doesn’t stop at Basketball. We know damn well that the NFL is guilty of this too. The last defensive player to make MVP in professional football was Lawrence Taylor. Everyone else since has been a Quarterback or Running back. It’s pretty disrespectful to people who play with greater or equal passion, but just don’t care enough to stuff the stat sheets.

Again, I’m not saying that Westbrook doesn’t deserve it, you can’t go wrong with the prime rib. But maybe give Kawhi a little more attention as well. And don’t give me the reasoning for his production that he’s a system player/perfect fit for Pop’s system. It’s extremely frustrating that someone gets points deducted for being extremely coachable while another gets points for running the show his own way and overriding the coach and not doing his team a favor by winning more. And yes, Kawhi is the glazed salmon over a bed of quinoa.

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