Every year it comes down to this question doesn't it. There is rarely a consensus player that stands out so far above the others that the debate avoids each person's understanding of "Most Valuable".
Perhaps my Google skills aren't up to par, but I couldn't find the official answer. There's lots of opinions out there though.
In the comments on this site ZonaFlash says its the guy you pick first on the playground.
Sorry ZF, but I disagree. That limits the discussion to basically the best player and ignores what the player did with the team his personal diety and GM provided.
The best description I found in my Googling was this one by Erick Blasco:
An MVP should be a dominant player that is the driving force of his team's greatness. An MVP should be able to enforce his skills against even the most skilled of opponents.
An MVP shouldn't just be a player who plays at a high level, but one who has his team play at a high level because of him.
An MVP should only play for a team that has matched or exceeded expectations as MVP's don't disappoint.
MVP's should be able to dominate weaker teams because of their presence, and should be able to beat elite teams because of their tremendously talented and clutch play in close games.
Numbers should not matter in determining an MVP. Players are great on basketball courts, not stat sheets.
Erick's definitions are as good as any I have seen and I tend to agree with them.
But this vote isn't about criteria. Any set of criteria you could come up with in a year like this with several exceptional candidates would just end up with multiple answers. So the debate just ends up with those inclined to support one player pushing for criteria that supports their pre-exisiting choice. Hate Kobe? Then you clearly are going to argue that PER is important since he's ranked 8th this year.
If the league wanted to establish specific criteria than I am sure they would have by now. The fact is that its left up to the media voters. It is purposely meant to be their opinion.
So, in my world of no criteria, structure or direction then my opinion is clear.
Kobe Flippen Bryant. For his entire body of work; his fourth quarter clutchiness; his team's exceeding expectations; and yes his on and off the floor leadership to move past this summer's silliness and get a team full of young guys confident and playing well. Who would have guessed the league would fear Sasha Vujacic? That alone is worthy of the MVP.