Balls: Only one way to settle Harden-Curry debate 

click to enlarge Stephen Curry
  • Jeff Chiu/ap
  • Newly minted NBA MVP Stephen Curry, center, is surrounded by his Warriors teammates during Monday’s festivities.
OAKLAND — The results are in and Stephen Curry is the runaway Most Valuable Player choice, but there’s only one way to settle this debate once and for all.

That’s on the court.

The Warriors will meet the winner of the Houston Rockets-Los Angeles Clippers series in the Western Conference finals. With Chris Paul on one leg, it’s hard to like the Clippers’ chances without the home-court advantage.

That would set up a showdown between Curry and the Rockets’ James Harden, who finished second in the MVP race. And wouldn’t that be fun?

At least we wouldn’t have to hear Dwight Howard whine any more.

“All of us are pretty upset [Harden] didn’t win,” Howard said of his teammate. “But our goal is to win the championship.”

There’s nothing to be upset about here. As Balls suspected all along, the MVP results were fairly one-sided. Curry received 100 of the 130 first-place votes and 1,198 points, while Harden garnered 25 first-place votes and 936 points. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James had the other five first-place votes.

To his credit, Harden took the loss like a man.

“That’s tough, but we’re in the second round of the playoffs and I got better things to worry about and that’s the Clippers,” Harden said. “They’re a very good team that’s rolling right now. It didn’t work out, but there’s more of the season to continue to play.”

IT’S ABOUT THE DUB-BLE-U: The most significant difference between the top two candidates? Curry’s team won 67 games in the regular season, while Harden’s won 56.

Curry told Balls that, if wins and losses were not part of the MVP criteria, he wouldn’t have wanted the trophy, anyway.

“Team success has a lot to do with it,” Curry said. “Everybody was saying that because I had a good team and good teammates, that might hurt my MVP case. If that was the case, then I wouldn’t want the award. It’s about winning. It’s a team game. You can’t take out that factor in how you’re assessing MVP candidacies and all that stuff.

“Thankfully, people recognized how great of a team we had. The votes kind of reflected that, which is pretty special.”

NO BRAINS ASSOCIATION: Well, most of the voters recognized team success, anyway.

MSG Network’s Mike Crispino had Curry in fifth place — one spot behind the Memphis Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol, who received one vote — while the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Chris Haynes didn’t vote for Harden at all. Haynes said he had intended to put Harden in third place and was guilty of an oversight.

You mean the NBA can’t find 130 people who don’t have the attention spans of 5-year-olds to vote for its most significant individual award? Really?

YOU, TOO, ESPN: Curry has a powerful and inspirational message that needs to be heard around the country. Now that he’s the MVP, maybe it will reach the Eastern time zone finally.

“There’s no doubt about that,” Warriors owner Joe Lacob told Balls. “He’s an incredible representative for the NBA and for our sport, absolutely incredible. I couldn’t feel better not only for him and our team but for the NBA that he won this award. And he deserved it.”

BOOK IT: The Warriors’ Steve Kerr has some concern that the extracurricular activities may affect his team in Game 2 against the Grizzlies tonight, but that’s what a coach is supposed to say.

Curry would have to be kidnapped for the overmatched Grizzlies to pull even in the series on the road.

“It might inspire us play even better,” Curry said. “There’s a lot of joy going on around our locker room and our team and our organization. Why not let that show on the court?”

CURRY FAVOR: The 49ers should be the biggest Warriors fans of all. Because if not for all the hoopla about them, the focus would be on the wacky things that general manager Trent Baalke did in the NFL Draft for three days.

Hey, look, the 49ers just signed another tight end!

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