Three years later, Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks won the first Most Valuable Player award.
Later, the NBA either created or sanctioned awards honoring the best coach, executive, sixth man, defensive player, most improved player and even the best citizen .
There has been one significant oversight, and perhaps in this lockout-shortened season it would be a good time to add a new award. If you are going to recognize the top overall player and ones who excel at specialties, why not reward the best offensive player in the league with the Offensive Player of the Year award?
Perhaps a case could be made that the lack of such an award was not an oversight. There were times in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s when the league was criticized for wild and crazy shooters, selfish players and ones who cared only about statistics. Perhaps some of the criticism fit, but much of it was ignorant like most generalizations are. Successful teams certainly featured players who played the game the right way.
There are always going to be self-centered players, although they usually don’t last long, particularly in this era when coaching has become so sophisticated. Coaches have become so demanding that if someone isn’t playing the game correctly on offense or defense, he sits.
And the players, even though they enter the league younger than in the past, are enormously talented and athletically gifted. Between the effort demanded by coaches and the athletic skills possessed by players, the game is played as well if not better than it’s ever been played. I liked the good old days as much as any but, please, these guys are at a different, more advanced level.
So if someone plays the best offense of anyone in the league, why not reward him?
Consider last season.