Derrick Rose had an incredible season for the New York Knicks. He averaged 14.9 points per game off of the bench after reuniting with former coach Tom Thibodeau to help lead the Knicks back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. He was a worthy finalist for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award.
But that wasn't the only award he received a vote for. On Tuesday, the NBA announced that Nikola Jokic had won the 2021 MVP award. That wasn't the surprising part. The voter breakdown revealed that Rose, who started three games all season, had received a first-place vote. Tim Reynolds from The Associated Press reported that vote came from the fans, who were given a vote online in 2010.
It was hardly the first controversial MVP vote of Rose's career. When he won the award in 2011, many argued that LeBron James, who had won it in 2009 and 2010, was the rightful victor. James would go on to win it again in 2012 and 2013, with Rose preventing him from becoming the first player ever to win five in a row. James did not receive a first-place vote this season due in large part to an ankle injury suffered in the middle of the season. He technically finished below Rose in the voting yet again.
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Rose was not a deserving winner, but the vote was hardly surprising in hindsight. Rose is enormously popular among fans, and he plays in the league's biggest market, New York. That convergence of factors led to the first-place vote.
Ultimately this will be remembered as an anomaly. Jokic was the award's winner. But in a closer race, that single fan vote could have swung the outcome, and if they aren't capable of selecting worthy candidates, the NBA has to consider removing their vote entirely.