CHICAGO – The buzz around United Center in the hours before Game 1 of the Chicago-Atlanta series Monday – non-game-related, anyway – was all about when and where. As in: What time would the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award be presented, and where would Bulls guard Derrick Rose actually receive it (practice facility, hotel ballroom, etc.)?
Nothing was official, of course. But Rose seems to be a lock from various straw-polling of media voters and thus would become the youngest NBA MVP in history. He was born on Oct. 4, 1988, making him 22 years, six months and 29 days come Tuesday.
But there’s more history in the making. If Rose wins, it will mark only the 12th time that the MVP and the Coach of the Year have been chosen from the same team. Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau was announced as the COY winner Sunday.
Considering that the awards will have co-existed for 49 years once the 2011 set is complete (the COY was first awarded in 1963, the MVP in 1956), that’s not a high percentage. The thinking by a lot of voters seems to be: If a coach has the MVP on his squad, his job might not be the league’s toughest. Or something like that.
Beginning with Boston’s Bill Russell and Red Auerbach in 1965, the MVP and COY partnered up five times in nine years: Wilt Chamberlain-Dolph Schayes, Phila., 1966; Wes Unseld-Gene Shue, Balt., 1969; Willis Reed-Red Holzman, N.Y., 1970, and Dave Cowens-Tom Heinsohn, Bos., 1973.
Then there was a mighty gap until the Lakers’ Magic Johnson and Pat Riley won the awards in 1990. Chicago’s Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson did it in 1996, the only season in which Jackson was deemed worthy by voters of a COY.
There has been a greater frequency lately, with four in the past 10 years – all in odd-numbered seasons. That pattern starts with Allen Iverson-Larry Brown, Phila., 2001, and continues with Tim Duncan-Gregg Popovich, S.A., 2003; Steve Nash-Mike D’Antoni, Phx., 2005 and LeBron James-Mike Brown, Cle., in 2009.