MVP voting disrespect toward LeBron James is nothing new

Los Angeles Lakers megastar LeBron James looks on in-game. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers megastar LeBron James looks on in-game. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

LeBron James is a four-time NBA MVP, but he should have more of those by now.

Last week, LeBron James was named to a record 16th All-NBA team after receiving 100 out of 100 first-place votes. This selection put James at the top of the All-NBA mountain after breaking a tie with Tim Duncan, the late Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Though it was a season unlike any other with the impact of the novel coronavirus, James, the best player in Cleveland Cavaliers history, was still magnificent. In year 17, LeBron poured in 25.3 points and grabbed 7.8 rebounds per outing in 67 regular season games for the Los Angeles Lakers, the squad he’s now in his second season with.

But arguably, the most impressive stat is the fact James dished out 10.2 assists per game, a figure that led the league in 2019-20. James, who has always been a willing and terrific passer, made it a point to get his teammates involved this year, especially first-year Laker Anthony Davis.

Over the years, LeBron has shared the court with many star players and often gets them involved instead of carrying the burden all on his own. James has mastered the art of going to that “special place” when he needs to, but a LeBron-led team is at its best when the other stars are performing on a consistent basis.

This postseason run by LeBron is just the latest excellent performance in a long line of outstanding playoff runs. Despite James posting a triple-double (23 points, 17 rebounds, 16 assists) in Game 1 in the first round against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Lakers fell into an 0-1 hole.

Per usual, the national media began their rumblings of “is this the end of LeBron?” or at least for his clubs, such as previously with the Cleveland Cavaliers it seemed in his second tenure with them, being key cogs in the title picture. And in typical fashion, he responded. In Games 3-5, James averaged 34.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 9.3 assists, and shot a remarkable 71.4 percent from the floor.

Then came the small-ball lineup of the Houston Rockets with former MVPs James Harden and Russell Westbrook leading the charge.

Once again, the Lakers fell in an 0-1 series hole, and the national media uproar began again. And again…like clockwork, James, with the help of Davis, led the way and brought the Lakers back, winning four straight. James recently moved into first all-time in NBA postseason victories, too, after Game 3 of that West Semifinal series against Houston, for further context.

But then came more MVP slander for James, who received just 16 first-place votes out of 101, and here was the voting breakdown, as h/t Marc Stein of the New York Times.

Not to take anything away from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is a fantastic player in his own right, and won his second consecutive MVP, and also won the Defensive Player of the Year. But it is tough to argue he is “more valuable” than James in the overall sense.

MVP voting disrespect toward James is nothing new.

This Lakers roster would likely be nowhere near the Western Conference Finals without James, and WITH Giannis, the Bucks failed to even make it out of the second round, and they seemed most likely out of it well before Antetokounmpo got injured.

The MVP award today seems to go to the flavor of the month and everyone gets wrapped up in that particular season’s flavor.

Sure, it may get tiresome to some to see LeBron James consistently at the top of the NBA mountain, but it is impossible to deny his greatness. I get that the award is a regular season award, but often those players fall short of even reaching the NBA Finals.

LeBron, who finished second in the MVP voting for the fourth time in his career, which is now tied with Larry Bird and Jerry West for most times in league history, as h/t ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, did voice some frustration when asked about the award recently. And for once, he did not hold back.

While some will see this quote as ill-timed, it is refreshing to hear James speak his mind. And while championships are his ultimate goal, he is right to have an eye on those individual accolades that fans and media like to compare and contrast among the all-time greats.

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Granted the NBA players received months of rest during the NBA stoppage from March to July, but LeBron, who as us Cleveland Cavaliers fans know so well, looks fresher than ever as the Western Conference Finals carry on in the league’s Orlando bubble.

In any case, this could be LeBron’s best accomplishment yet if he is to pull off winning a ring. There is no home crowd, no electric atmospheres, and these players must create their own energy and motivation.

James does not have to put the team on his back single-handily like in years past, but it is still impressive to see him turn it on or “flip the switch” in these games. Now, James still does not have the same bounce he did early on, but there are still moments where that youthfulness is still ever-present.

It is almost comical at this point to see the relationship between LeBron and those in the media who seemingly do not give James the credit he deserves, as evidenced by this latest MVP voting. With these individuals, it appears that the bar consistently moves when it comes to James and his accomplishments.

We heard when James joined the West that it would not be a cakewalk, and now that he has the Lakers two games away from the NBA Finals, I already see the excuses flowing.

Why is it so hard to admit LeBron James is excellent?

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I feel bad for those who cannot accept that. I also feel bad for whoever stands in LeBron’s way because, with this latest slight, he will surely be even more motivated to win a ring.