Houston star James Harden was named by his peers as the NBA’s 2014-15 Most Valuable Player (MVP) at the first annual Players’ Awards ceremony, held earlier this week in Las Vegas.
The program took place on Sunday, but will be televised Tuesday night on BET at 7:00 Central. The voting results were embargoed for television purposes, but photos showing Harden as the winner have leaked. Other MVP finalists were Golden State guard Stephen Curry, Cleveland forward LeBron James and Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook.
“Our players have long wanted to recognize greatness from within their own ranks, and with the first-ever Basketball Players Awards we have created a vehicle for them to do so,” said Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). “The level of participation from players in the voting process has been overwhelming.”
The NBPA said it launched the ceremony after union members expressed a desire to vote for categories similar to the ones voted upon by media. In the media race, Harden finished second in MVP voting to Curry.
The push for the Players’ Awards began in February, when Oklahoma City star (and Harden’s close friend) Kevin Durant said he wanted to take end-of-season awards away from the media and into the hands of the players.
“They have too much power,” Durant said at All-Star Media Day, even though the media awarded him MVP in the prior season. “The players know each other inside and out. The media isn’t in the film room and goes for sexy names.”
Curry, who won this year’s media award, also agreed with Durant — saying that players know who is having the best year and stand out among their peers.
“I think (players) should have a portion of the vote,” Curry told the Dan Patrick Show. “Obviously we’re the ones playing against each other. So I think that should be a part of the vote, for sure.”
Harden scored a career-best 27.4 points per game last season along with 7.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds in leading the Rockets to the West’s second-best record (56-26), the Southwest Division title and their first Western Conference Finals appearance since 1997.
UPDATE: Here’s video of Harden winning the award and his acceptance speech.