If the thinking among the members of the media that vote for the MVP award parallels that of SI's weekly polices, however, we're in for a runaway: If the balloting were done now, all but four of our 16 voters would choose Barkley. (Ainge would've gone that way too, but our panelists aren't allowed to vote for their teammates.) The only other players to get votes were Olajuwon, who was selected by the Blazers' Clyde Drexler and the Kings' Wayman Tisdale, and Jordan, the choice of the Knicks' Doc Rivers and Ainge.
Though they expressed their reasons for choosing Barkley in different terms, his backers' thinking centered on a basic point: Barkley has taken a successful team and made it a championship contender. "It's hard to believe you could vote for someone in front of Michael," says the Nets' Sam Bowie, "but for what Charles has done, you have to go for him."
"Charles made the Suns tougher," adds Xavier McDaniel of the Celtics. "Tougher in the way they play basketball."