The PBA’s top individual honor, the Most Valuable Player award, has always been controversial. The word “valuable” is a loaded term — it can mean different things to different people — and putting in parameters such as statistics hasn’t exactly made things clearer; after all, there are many “valuable” things that a player could do that couldn’t exactly be measured in numbers.
In this edition of The List, we present the greatest PBA players never to win the top plum. As always, here are some honorable mentions:
The Spider-Man might not on this list for long — with the way he’s been dominating the statistics, he could end up winning an MVP award before he retires. But he’s been a bridesmaid at least three times in his career.
The H-Bomb was the cornerstone of some great teams — the 2003 Coca-Cola Tigers, which made it to the finals of all three conferences, and the 2006-07 Barangay Ginebra Kings, which won the Philippine Cup, come to mind. But even though he left everything on the court when he was playing, Hatfield often had his heart somewhere else, taking off and leaving his team to find other opportunities abroad many times.
Cariaso was the last cut for the national team bound for the Asian Games in 1994 and 1998. When he finally made it to the final lineup in 2002, it came at a price. As the main man for an excellent Coca-Cola Tigers squad, it was his best shot at the MVP, but his stint with the national team hampered his chances. But it certainly didn’t diminish his 15-year career, which saw him playing the role of bench spark plug, franchise savior, respected veteran, and most of all, winner.
Lim Eng Beng
Lim was one of the greatest scorers in the PBA’s early days. But because he didn’t play for either Toyota or Crispa in his prime years, the former La Salle guard didn’t get the same attention as his colleagues. Still, his brilliance was tattooed in the minds of hardcore fans, as he was named to the PBA’s list of 25 Greatest Players in 2000.
When talk of the greatest big men in PBA history come up, King’s name is often left off the discussion, which is a shame. As a rookie, he crashed the starting lineup of the powerhouse Toyota squad in 1977.
King was Marc Pingris before Marc Pingris — a defensive demon who bedeviled opposing players, locals and imports alike. Unlike Pingris, King could put up buckets; he once scored 60 points in a game.