The NBA announced James as the winner of the league’s top individual honor on Saturday. He will be presented with the trophy by Commissioner David Stern on Sunday before his Miami Heat face the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
James won the award for the third time in four seasons. only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone have won at least that many MVP trophies.
Abdul-Jabbar won six times, Jordan and Russell five times each, Chamberlain four times. Now, they’re the only players with more than James.
“LeBron, to me, is the favorite every year. the years he doesn’t win it, it’ll usually be because people are just tired of voting for him. Statistically, if you go all-around game, I don’t know how you don’t vote for him every year.”
James said last week that while another MVP award “would be amazing and would be humbling,” it’s not what drives him. In his ninth season, James still has not won an NBA title and it’s clear that, although he wanted to reclaim the MVP trophy, winning a championship is far and away his top basketball priority.
“I think he’s probably as committed as he’s ever been in his career,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said this week, asked to summarize James’ season. “and he’s always been committed. … we all respond to his energy on the court.”
James averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists — making him only the fourth player with those totals in at least two seasons, according to STATS LLC, joining Oscar Robertson (five times), John Havlicek (twice) and Bird (twice).
Add James’ 53 percent shooting and 1.9 steals per game into the mix, and the club gets even more exclusive. only Jordan had a season with numbers exceeding what James did this season in those categories — 1988-89, when he averaged 32.5 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and 2.9 steals on 54 percent shooting.
James’ teammates also lobbied for him to be defensive player of the year this season, noting that probably no one else in the league routinely plays four positions on offense while sometimes being asked to guard anyone from a point guard to a center on defense. James was fourth in that balloting.
“LeBron has been unbelievable,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said before the playoffs. “He’s done it at both ends, every night, offensively and defensively.”