As unorthodox as it would be, the NBA has to give Steve Nash the MVP award this year.
Giving a guy like Nash the award for the third consecutive season would emblazon his name in the elite company of three of the best in history -- Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird -- who all won the award back-to-back-to-back.
Even Michael Jordan didn't win three in a row.
Everyone is contemplating one thing. Nash isn't a bona fide superstar like Bird, Wilt or Russell were. So, how can he win the most coveted individual award in sports three times in a row, as they did?
This isn't the right line of thinking.
I'll concede that Nash doesn't belong in their company, at least not yet.
Unfortunately, by awarding him the MVP for the third time, the NBA would be indirectly declaring that he belongs in their ranks.
I don't think the NBA, or anyone who knows and follows the history of basketball, is ready to do that yet. And that will be the number one reason why Nash doesn't receive the votes.
But it's the very reason why he should.
Doling out awards based on what happened in past years isn't a justifiable way of whittling down the candidates.
Comparing Nash's feats this year to what happened in the careers of guys he never even played against, in a time when the game was very different, is not a reliable measurement, nor should it even be considered.
That isn't the right way of dealing with this situation. Unfortunately, I believe that exact rationale will be used by voters to rob Nash of an award he's clearly earned this season.
The MVP should be awarded to Nash based on his performance this season, his importance to his team and the performances of his competitors.
No one, beyond maybe Jason Kidd, could lead the Suns' complicated offense the way Nash did with the level of success he achieved.
His stats this year are better than his two previous MVP campaigns. He leads the league with 11.6 assists per game and has improved his field-goal percentage to 53 percent and his three-point shooting to an unearthly 45 percent.
And the stats don't wholly account for his impact throughout the season. There are no stats for "hustle," "leadership" or "competitiveness." There is no measurement for team chemistry. No one keeps a record of all the times Nash simply refused to lose a game and ensured that the Suns got the win.
Every one of those categories is essential to a team's success. And Nash excelled at all of them.
Nash's teammates are substantially better due to his tutelage. Leading sixth Man of the Year candidate, Leandro Barbosa, has improved tremendously and Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire ought to take Nash out to dinner every night for his invaluable contributions to their stat totals.
The Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki are the most probable contenders other than Nash.
While they are both dominant players and had superb seasons, I can't believe either one of these guys deserve the award more than Nash.
The Lakers will win 42 games at most.
Injuries and inexperience aside, I just can't see handing the most prestigious award to the leader of a team that barely qualifies for the postseason. For his ridiculous scoring streaks and sheer dominance, Kobe deserves the Most Outstanding Player award, hands down. Unfortunately, that award doesn't exist. It's no reason to give him the MVP. There's a difference.
Until Kobe leads a successful season for the Lakers without the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, I don't think he'll ever be able to tally enough 50-point games to garner the award.
Nowitzki was undoubtedly the best player on the best team this season. He's one of the best crunch-time scorers in the history of the game, but, without him, the Mavericks would still have won 50-plus games and easily made the playoffs. They're nearly perfect with him, but still great without him. He didn't mean as much to his team as Nash does to the Suns.
We'll all know who earns the crown in just a couple weeks. Hopefully, the NBA will remember what the award is all about before they make the mistake of letting hall of fame comparisons dictate who is worthy.