Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors took home his second consecutive NBA Most Valuable Player award the other night, and, this time, the vote was unanimous. This was the first time in NBA history, as a matter of fact, that an MVP award has been awarded by unanimous vote. This season Steph has shattered his own ridiculous three-point record while leading his team to a 73-9 record, the best single-season mark in NBA history. The Warriors push ever closer to their second straight trip to the NBA Finals, and their humble lead-by-example point guard continues to mystify opponents with impossible shots and an unmatched desire to win. Hell yes, he’s the unanimous choice.
But, because this is sports, much like Harden’s ridiculous whining a year ago after finishing second to Curry, a celebrated occurrence like this unanimous decision allows former stars to say ridiculous shit in attempts at garnering some remember-me attention. Sorry, T-Mac. Open your eyes. If anyone doesn’t think Curry has deserved either of these two MVPs, he or she simply isn’t watching basketball.
No matter how deserving or appropriate, unanimous decisions tend to stir up controversy. Maybe it’s the Don’t Tell Me What To Think mentality that reacts against being told that everyone agrees on a particular decision. So, to properly ensconce Steph’s achievement in history, let’s take a look at five other great – albeit sometimes controversial – unanimous decisions.
On February 4, 1789, George Washington was elected the first President of the United States, and he did so by unanimous vote. All 69 Electors voted for the insanely popular war hero, and our country was treated to the start of a celebrated political career. Controversial? Not really. In fact, in the very next presidential election, Washington again won by unanimous vote, this time with all 132 electoral votes, despite pissing people off with a whiskey tax a year earlier. He stands as the only president to have ever been elected unanimously and (not going out on a limb here, especially as we shake our heads in horror at the clusterfuck that has become the 2016 election process), that is a distinction that will never be equaled.
On December 8, 1941, a day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt addressed Congress with his famous “date which will live in infamy” speech, asking to approve a Declaration of War with Japan. Only one Congresswoman in the House of Representatives cast a dissenting vote, but it was enough to pass the Resolution on to the Senate where it was approved unanimously 82-0. The Senate was really feeling it during World War II, as they followed suit with unanimous approvals for war with Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Rumania. War is hell, no matter how righteous the cause, and these WWII resolutions are the last time Congress has officially declared war. That’s right – all of our country’s military actions since 1942? “Authorized military engagements.”
Speaking of war being hell, Ernest Hemingway’s masterwork For Whom the Bell Tolls, a novel set during the Spanish Civil War, was unanimously voted to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1941. Everyone agreed… except for the board chairman Nicholas Murray Butler. He deemed the novel offensive and straight up vetoed the recommendation. No Pulitzer was awarded in Fiction for that year. Hemingway did eventually win a Pulitzer for Old Man and the Sea, a make-up call worthy of Joey Crawford, but, more notably, the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Take that, Murray Butler.
On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court of the United States voted unanimously in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka case. The nation was sorely divided on the subject of race in the mid-twentieth century, but this decision against segregation in schools provided much needed momentum in the Civil Rights Movement. We had a long way to go (and a ways to go still), but this was a momentous step forward for our country, and possibly the most important unanimous decision in U.S. history.
In 1991, the Coen Brothers’ fifth feature film, Barton Fink, became the last American film to earn the Palme d’Or by unanimous decision. In the twenty-four Cannes Film Festivals since then, only four American films have taken home the top honor, and the only other American film to have ever pulled off the feat of unanimity was Delbert Mann’s Marty in 1955. But despite Fink‘s critical acclaim, the movie was a box office turd. A film decrying the populist lowbrow pablum of Hollywood going unappreciated stateside? Shocking. Almost as shocking as The Big Lebowski getting nothing more than a Golden Bear nomination at the ’98 Berlin Film Festival.