Apr 18, 2012, 5:26 PM EDT
With games like his 17-point run at the end of the fourth quarter against the Nets Monday, and the fact he outplayed Kevin Durant last time they went head-to-head, LeBron James again appears to be one of the front runners for the MVP. It’s going to be Durant or LeBron (Tony Parker, Kobe Bryant and everyone else is trailing).
A win would mean a third MVP for LeBron. Only eight players have ever won three MVPs and as you would imagine the list is impressive — it includes Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird among others.
LeBron has a sense of history about the game and told Brian Windhorst of ESPN that to join that group would be a great honor.
“It would mean a lot, honestly, it would mean a lot,” James said. “If I’m able to win it this year it would be very humbling knowing the caliber of guys who have won it three times.”
“I remember me being a little, scrawny guy from Akron, Ohio, and watching so many greats either watching live or watching games, knowing and loving the history of the game and seeing the guys who have paved the way for myself. I’ve always respected that. I’ve always respected the talent that came before me.”
LeBron is having a magnificent statistical season — 26.9 points per game on 52.8 percent shooting, with 8 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. He has a league best PER of 30.5. Durant’s numbers are impressive as well — 27.8 points per game on 50.3 percent shooting with 7.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and a PER of 26.7 — but James also contributes more on defense than Durant. It will be close, a group of former MVPs leaned toward Durant. (You can tell us who you would vote for here at NBCSports.com.)
In the larger public perception of LeBron James, winning a third MVP by 27 — only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had three at a younger age — would change little. Until he gets a championship or championships to go with the MVPs, his achievements will ring hollow with fans who turned on him after he left Cleveland. Winning rings will not bring all of them back, but it could sway the consensus (remember how Kobe Bryant was never going to be as popular again, then he won a few rings and…).
For LeBron, basketball has been fun again this season. That is what he wants the most. The accolades (and maybe rings) will follow that spirit.
“I’m just back to playing the way I play the game, with a lot of fun and a lot of joy and just not proving anything to anyone. Last year I felt I had to prove something to people. I have no idea why. But I got to that point and it took me away from why I love the game so much and I why I love the NBA. I got away from that.
“This year I got back to my seven years in Cleveland, my four years in high school and when I first picked up a basketball at age 9. That’s why I’m more excited about where I’m at today.”
Oct 24, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT
Childress, who played for Pelicans last season, now playing (dirty) in Australia
Oct 24, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT
Are Heat stars too old to succeed without LeBron James?
Oct 24, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
Paul Pierce, Otto Porter or Martell Webster – all intriguing for different reasons – could become Washington’s starting small forward
Oct 24, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT
Magic guard to have surgery Saturday
Oct 24, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
All hail the Brow.
Oct 24, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Van Gundy downplayed the offense’s impact on a team’s success, and Jackson co-signs.
Oct 24, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Four teams and the obvious choice of Cleveland.
Lance Stephenson says Pacers setting deadline to re-sign forced him to look elsewhere in free agency
Oct 24, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT
It’s possible Indiana did this on purpose.
Oct 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Filmed in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, “Becoming” includes rarely seen footage from LeBron James’ earliest days in sports.
Oct 24, 2014, 1:15 AM EDT
Noel isn’t ready to stop that much power going to the rim yet.
Oct 24, 2014, 12:15 AM EDT
Spurs big man just won’t stop producing great seasons
Oct 23, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
That’s real artistry by the Heat star
Oct 23, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
Why is Houston’s general manager downplaying his own team’s success?
Oct 23, 2014, 8:50 PM EDT
Sterling had previously dropped a fraud charge against the NBA.
Oct 23, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT
The two-time MVP continues to battle nerve damage in his back.
Oct 23, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT
A rare look at Popovich’s lighter side.
Oct 23, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
Bad news for #JugLife devotees.
Oct 23, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT
Smart wins the “job” over one-time frontrunner Evan Turner
Oct 23, 2014, 5:28 PM EDT
He’s already one of the best players in Philadelphia.
Oct 23, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
When you lose the best player walking the face of the earth, your team gets worse.
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