Last week, the individual awards were presented in the Basketball Bundesliga. Even if team athletes never tire of emphasizing that nothing is more important to them than team success, these awards satisfy the vanity inherent in every human being. In addition, they look good on every CV and increase the market value. They are more important than the awardees would have us believe. It is therefore appropriate to examine the criteria for these awards.
It is extremely questionable that journalists are allowed to vote for MVP (Most Valuable Player of the Season), Best Offensive Player, Best Defender and Coach of the Year in the most important awards. This should be reserved exclusively for the coaches. Television commentators and writing reporters judge the game differently than coaches.
They are concerned with observations and assessments that should help the viewer and reader. For this reason alone, they do not have the right perspective to take part in the vote. Instead of journalists, assistant coaches should be given voting rights. These experts see most of the games. They have a high level of expertise and observe under the aspects relevant for an assessment.
An American invention
Local journalists also follow all matches of "their" team, but do not watch the other teams more than twice a season. It's understandable that the league hopes to trigger more in-depth coverage in this way. But this has already led to results that are difficult to understand. In 2009, Jason Gardner won the MVP crown, although in the opinion of the coaches he was only the third best player – not the third best player in the league, but the third best player on his team! How fortunate that the trophy went into the right hands in the election of the MVP 2023. TJ Shorts from the main round winner Telekom Baskets Bonn was also the favorite of the coaches.
The MVP, like the other individual awards, is an American invention. The NBA players play in a single league. In Europe, however, there is a second national competition in the cup, but above all four international ones, the different quality of which makes the evaluation even more difficult. Should these competitions be included at all? After all, the MVP of the national league is chosen.
According to the name of the award, it is not the best, but the most valuable player in the BBL who is determined. Couldn't this also be someone who delivers reliably whenever he is challenged, but otherwise acts with different priorities due to the double burden? This is especially true for the Euroleague players, who play as many games in the main round of the best European competition as in the BBL. It is impossible to always push the limits. The coaches don't want this either. They reduce the deployment time of their top performers or let them take a break when the opportunity arises, which has a negative effect on the statistics.
Does team success play a role?
What influence should the numbers have, especially the effectiveness value as a supposedly objective criterion? The new MVP Shorts is the best player in this category. Basically, however, players benefit from teams that generate a lot of possession through speed. There are other questions: Should there be a minimum number of games that an MVP must have played? To what extent does team success play a role? Can a player become MVP if his team doesn't make the playoffs? Should offense and defense be equally involved? Currently, the offense seems to influence the MVP decision by at least 85 percent, so that the award for the best offensive player seems almost superfluous.
It seems to be a matter of time before companies in Germany also take over the "sponsorship" for the awards. In the North American professional league (NBA), for example, the awards are associated with the name of a South Korean car manufacturer. In the NBA, the number of awards has continued to increase with regard to the media and sponsors. It is to be hoped that we would be spared this inflationary tendency. They devalue the really important awards.
The author was twice Coach of the Year