Research from a University of Pennsylvania professor and a Cornell University graduate student says yes, according to the New York Times (registration required). Judging by comments on the article, many Times readers disagree.
In 2005, when the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) award raised similar questions, three Southeastern economists turned to data analyses to determine whether a bias existed.
Mike DuMond, Jay Coleman and Allen Lynch created an MVP model to crunch the numbers and also predict the MVP winner. The results? Their MVP model showed that race was *not* a factor in whether or not a player won the MVP.
Two of the economists, Coleman and Lynch, have also received attention for their popular Dance Card model, which they use to predict NCAA Dance Card rankings each year.
This year, the black and white of the NBA MVP data shows that Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks will win the MVP. The MVP model predicts, in order of finish:
- Dirk Nowitzki- Dallas Mavericks (26%)
- Steve Nash - Phoenix Suns (21%)
- LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers 16%)
- Tim Duncan - San Antonio Spurs (16%)
- Kobe Bryant - Los Angeles Lakers (12%)
The NBA will most likely announce its MVP winner this week. We'll be watching to see if the model is right.