MVP controversy takes center stage in Liberty-Suns playoff series

MVP controversy takes center stage in Liberty-Suns playoff series

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Do not say Liberty forward Breanna Stewart didn’t deserve the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player award. Not after the way she backed it up against the Suns Tuesday night in a 84-77 win over the Sun at the Barclays Center in Game 2 of their playoff series.

After one lonely basket in the first half, Stewart ended the game with 11 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and five blocks – one of them setting off another “MVP” chant in front of the sellout crowd. The points were well distributed among her teammates, but Stewart came out in the second half and bulldozed her team back to the lead.

 “I was trying to compartmentalize things,” Stewart said. “Obviousl,y knowing it was an emotional day a very happy day but a lot of things going on and a huge game for us.”

 The series is tied at 1-1 but, more importantly, a point has been made.

 Earlier in the day, Stewart won the WNBA MVP Award despite getting fewer first-place votes than Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas. But because of math and the distribution of second-place votes, for simplicity’s sake we can call it the “Electoral College,” Thomas was not the one in the spotlight.

Connecticut’s DeWanna Bonner said it was a tough day for the Sun, not so much because of the loss, but because Thomas didn’t win the MVP, and she had to learn about it hours before a playoff game. The timing was not good for team morale.

“That is a tough question,” Bonner said when the issue was raised after the game. “No discredit to Stewie because she’s MVP for a reason, but what Alyssa did this season was unbelievable. So, of course, the news was… it was emotional. That was tough for her, tough for our team but we came out, we played for her and we’ll continue to play for her.”

 Bonner and Tiffany Hayes were at the post-game podium together and Hayes agreed.

 “That’s our MVP,” Bonner added.

 Instead the game started with Stewart getting that MVP trophy on the floor, with WNBA commissioner Cathy Englebert on one side and Liberty owner Clara Wu Tsai on the other. And much spirited debate on social media.

Three-time MVP Sheryl Swoopes finally posted this on the hellscape formerly known as Twitter after getting so much backlash for weighing in: “PSA!!! I DO NOT WORK FOR THE WNBA! I am entitled to my thoughts and opinions just like everyone else. They are just that…MINE! If you have an issue with MY opinions then unfollow me and have a great life! Buh-bye.”

The wild thing about this vote is all but one of the first-, second- and third-place votes went to Stewart, Thomas and Ace A’ja Wilson. The final tally was Stewart with 446 aggregate points, Thomas at 439, and Wilson coming in with 433. That’s tight. But that’s the league right now, where a gulf divides the top and the rest. Only four teams in the league finished over .500, it was the teams with MVP candidates – the Suns, Liberty and Aces, with Dallas in there as well.

 “Stewie deserves an MVP, AT deserves an MVP, A’ja deserves an MVP, they all do,” Connecticut coach Stephanie White said.

“I think it was hardest for Stewie, it’s a very emotional day for her, it’s not easy to win an MVP and it was a very close [contest],” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said. “That’s going to be motivating for the other team, isn’t it? They fight and they compete. And they’re all worthy of MVP. We’re very happy that Stewie did (win) but you saw, the greatness of those players it could have gone any other way. They’re lifting up the standard of this league.”

League attendance was up 16 percente d[ this season, and the Barclays had 10,000 fans there to watch rapper Remy Ma put on a halftime show in front of an eclectic mix of celebs.

Who can’t get behind a team that can attract Common, Fran Lebowitz, Alicia Keys and Tierra Whack courtside? Finally, a team for the intelligensia. Sure, Fran wasn’t there trying to date someone on the team, so maybe not the biggest name to drop into a professional sporting event this week. Although anyone who wants to explain basketball scoring to Lebowitz’s fans can be my guest.

To be fair it’s hard to think straight when the Timeless Torches are dancing to all that loud music.

At least in the pre-game presser Stewart had the good sense to thank all the voters even if they voted for someone else. She’s everyone’s MVP, and that’s the way it works in a Democracy.

These teams play again on Friday in Connecticut, giving everyone a chance to move past the most recent election and on to the larger campaign – the one for a championship.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.