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LeBron says he should be Defensive Player of the Year

Feb 7, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT

Heat vs. Spurs Getty Images

It’s going to be Roy Hibbert. If you were going to bet on one sure thing out of the NBA’s awards this season, you should bet on Roy Hibbert being named Defensive Player of the Year. More than Durant as MVP or Michael Carter-Williams as Rookie of the Year, Hibbert is a lock for DPOY.

Unless LeBron James gets to decide.

He doesn’t (it’s voted on by media members) but LeBron said he deserves a little love in the category after he showcased his defensive skills against the Clippers, as reported by Ira Winderman at the Sun Sentinel.

Wednesday night was one of those times, with James guarding everyone from fleet point guard Darren Collison to imposing center DeAndre Jordan, along the way also taking turns on exponentially improving Clippers forward Blake Griffin.

“That’s why I should be Defensive Player of the Year,” he said with a smile, but also a touch of candor. “One-through-five. Started off on DeAndre, guarded Darren Collison that one possession, so, you know. No one has ever done this before.

“That’s why I’m sitting here with nine bags of ice.”

The DPOY Award often goes to a big man because we can see them clean up the messes made by guys on the perimeter — Hibbert, Dwight Howard and last year’s (deserving) winner Marc Gasol radically change their teams’ defensive fortunes by how they patrol the paint and take away easy buckets.

The versatility of what James does is not as easy to point to, but he’s right in the sense that his contributions on that end can get overlooked. LeBron is a unique physical talent in the league and guys who can guard multiple positions have real value — and nobody is as versatile on that end as LeBron. He should be high on every voter’s ballot this season.

But the award is still deservingly going to Hibbert, the anchor for the best defensive team in the NBA.

  1. boli34 - Feb 7, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    @kinggw if Lebron wants to brag about covering 1 through 5 then you’re going to get ridiculed for a guy scoring 43 whether he gave up 1 or all 43. Also to the poster who said who’s stopping kd. If that’s the case then the so called best player in the game shouldn’t be the best player in the game if a player is that unstoppable.

    • antistratfordian - Feb 7, 2014 at 5:37 PM

      The point of LeBron saying you can’t stop KD is 1) it’s kind of coach-speak and is generally what coaches/players say about any great scorer and 2) that he appreciates – as does any great defender – that the offensive player always has the advantage of knowing where he’s going while the defender can only guess.

      Michael Jordan said it well in ‘Rare Air’:

      Defensively, I’m like everyone else. I’m guessing, basically. When I’m at my best offensively I know I can dictate what I want to do. Defensively, I can dictate some things, but not nearly as much as I can offensively. That’s just the nature of the game.”

      LeBron does a good job dictating defensively when it comes to Durant. He won a championship completely locking up Durant in crunch time of games 2, 3 and 4. If you watched their last matchup, you saw that LeBron was only giving KD tough shots and longer shots. KD happened to make some of those difficult shots in the third. But the areas where LeBron was allowing KD to take the shots from – on the season he has only made those at about a 39-41% clip. Over a series Durant is going to miss more of those against LeBron than he makes.

      • bjswoosh805 - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:00 AM

        idk dude i think durants getting on that level where he’s almost unguardable and Over a series Durant would torch anyone in the NBA even Lebron..but the difference Durant is a better offensive player right now and Lebrons got better defense. But dude imagine if they meet up in the Finals again!!!

      • antistratfordian - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:07 AM

        Durant can’t torch LeBron and never has. LeBron is in KD’s head.

  2. jadaruler - Feb 7, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    Can we please stop the Lebron can defend all 5 positions bs? Just doing it from time to time is impressive but he’s not locking down a power forward, center or a top shelf point guard all game. Hell his defense on KG in the Conf Finals two years ago hot KG another contract.

    He’s a great defender and I would put him in the running with Hibbert, Brow, Jordan. and George.

  3. jadaruler - Feb 7, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    Forgot Ibaka.

  4. coachjac30 - Feb 7, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    Great player, but why does he feel the need to constantly tell us how good he is? Let your body of work speak for itself

    • program33 - Feb 12, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      My reply to that question is that he is accustomed to receiving major hardware year after year. Both individual awards and of late team awards with the championship(s). This could be a year that he does not receive any hardware. Just an opinion.

  5. bjerkrulez - Feb 7, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    A freak of nature? Yes. Talented as hell? Yes.
    But LBJ fans are blinded if they would embrace the ridiculous flopping this man does one some games.

    I’m an old school basketball fan and as I pointed out, if you have a God given 6’9 250lb frame, how could a smaller NBA guard throw him away easily? (This goes to the referees as well).

    The league should have a rule to review a flop in the game itself and not after it.
    That way players and teams won’t risk a point or two that would be a reason for a loss.

  6. bjerkrulez - Feb 7, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    And some of the guys are right, being a DPOY, the player should have a reputation to stop the opponent’s top scorer (Griffin’s 43). He mentioned that he guarded positions from 1-5. That is a Yes. But did he made it difficult for them to score? a BIG NO.

    I would go with Paul George, he scores AND he defends the best player on the other team.

    • theromeo2k - Feb 7, 2014 at 6:44 PM

      “But did he made it difficult for them to score? a BIG NO.”

      Spoiler alert: This guy is a Lebron hater or hasn’t watch any of his playoffs games…

  7. money2long - Feb 7, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    is lebron saying this because he believes the writing is on the wall that voters will probably not want to give him 3 MVP’s in a row and will likely hand that to durant so lebron wants to plant seeds in voters’ heads that he should then be handed the DPLOY award as compensation because he thinks they’ll have to give him some individual award if they’re going to take the MVP away from him ?

    just a thought.

    • theromeo2k - Feb 7, 2014 at 6:47 PM

      Makes some sense to me.

      • chicagosports2014 - Feb 8, 2014 at 6:27 AM

        Lebum can’t win individual awards, only TEAM. haha, whoa

    • sportsfan18 - Feb 8, 2014 at 1:59 AM

      Well, LBJ was mad LAST year that he did not win the defensive player of the year award and he KNEW he was going to win the MVP last season… so to me that means no, it has nothing to do with that.

      He isn’t anywhere as open or vocal about passing MJ as the greatest of all time but LBJ knows that he has a few titles, many league MVP’s, Olympic Gold etc… but he does NOT have any defensive player of the year awards.

      He KNOWS he isn’t getting any younger and his time to win this award is now (last yr, this yr etc…) as it won’t get any easier for him to win it going forward (the DPOY award I mean) in his career.

      Even if it is NOT about his legacy as it compares to MJ’s, LBJ still wants to win things like this, he’s competitive, he wants to be known as a well rounded player who won ALL of the big things from MVP’s, titles, Finals MVP, Olympic Gold, 1st team NBA etc…

      But he is MISSING a defensive player of the year award and he wants that.

      He may not ever mention it but if his career ends without him winning one of these, it will always gnaw at him…

      So, to me, there are many reasons for him to want to win this BEFORE simply wanting an award because Durant looks like he’ll win the MVP.

      • sportsfan18 - Feb 8, 2014 at 2:03 AM

        It’s why I made a joke a few months back on a thread when LBJ went after a lesser player on his team during a time out as he was mad at this guy for not playing good “D”.

        As a joke, I said this player probably said the following to LBJ in the huddle and it set him off “LBJ, if you played better help “D”, you woulda won the DPOY award last year”

        And after hearing that, LBJ went after his teammate there on the sideline during the timeout.

        I got skewered on here for that joke but I don’t think many understood it.

        Google articles about LBJ wanting and being mad he didn’t win the defensive player of the year award last year and it will make sense…

      • money2long - Feb 8, 2014 at 3:25 PM

        while i don’t agree with this thinking, i will comment on one thing.

        he’s also missing a dunk contest appearance. kinda selfish in a way. i don’t even feel like explaining why.

      • sportsfan18 - Feb 9, 2014 at 2:00 AM

        not a bad comment.

        MJ certainly appeared in them, the one from the free throw line…

        LBJ should have done that too…

        So much has changed and not for the better I mean.

        In 1984, our Olympic team played a tune up game against pro’s that was a great game. the young college Olympian’s beat the pro’s.

        But Larry Bird played, Isaiah Thomas played as did many others.

        Bird had just finished his 5th NBA season. Bird won the league MVP the season before this July tune up game and he went on to win the league MVP in the upcoming NBA season too.

        Bird and Isaiah and others weren’t just going through the motions (Bird wasn’t that way).

        Tune ups now aren’t the same… about 15 min’s or so of highlights of this game are on Youtube…

  8. shuttaman1990 - Feb 7, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    Flabby and sick asking for DPOY?
    LMAO he’s on his last legs he’s tracy mcgrady status!
    He’s over! He needs to go play in china already!
    Lakers all day.

    • sportsfan18 - Feb 8, 2014 at 2:22 AM

      Come back and post about basketball in a yr or two when you learn something about the game and those that play it…

    • Professor Fate - Feb 8, 2014 at 7:32 AM

      Comments like that are why all Lakers fans get lumped into the “clueless, bandwagon fan” category. Do us a favor and shut it, man.

      • shuttaman1990 - Feb 8, 2014 at 10:04 AM

        like i mentioned I thought it was D Wade saying that, must of gotten a brain fart.

        Lakers all day.

  9. shuttaman1990 - Feb 7, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    Oh mah bad i thought it was wade.
    Lakers all day anyways

    • jimeejohnson - Feb 8, 2014 at 1:16 PM

      Lakers all day. You sound like a f+ckin’ loser.

      • shuttaman1990 - Feb 8, 2014 at 9:32 PM

        Why you so jelly doe?
        Lakers all day.

  10. vikesdynasty - Feb 7, 2014 at 8:00 PM

    As always Lebron is a dooshnozzle

  11. billtetley53 - Feb 7, 2014 at 9:20 PM

    Why try to argue with kb2408(lakerluver)?

    Hes proven time and again he knows nothing about basketball.

    Hes the loudmouth know nothing at the bar that everyone wishes would shut the hell up.

    I bet he has a punchable face too.

  12. vikesdynasty - Feb 7, 2014 at 10:02 PM

    man the heat/lebron lovers sure put their thumbs down when we bash lebron. its comical because most of the posts are bashing him but yet most are thumbs down haha.

  13. bkallday52 - Feb 7, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    im sorry Lebron is An OVERRATED ON BALL DEFENDER ……. If you really think about it .. He only Locks Down Smaller Guards.. Tony Parker in the finals .. Derrick Rose In Da playoffs a while back … Yea hes versatile in guarding multiple decisions but hes yet to Lock down Great wing players with size/height.. Hes never locked down KD … Melo…. Kobe … sometimes he doesnt even take the pride in guarding them

  14. cruzan80 - Feb 8, 2014 at 2:59 AM

    He’s not even the best defender on his team….

  15. gmsingh - Feb 8, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    Well then it’s a good thing LeBron is the one who gets to make that decision.

  16. sdlakerfan - Feb 8, 2014 at 4:58 PM

    Don’t know about DPOY – but that block on Splitter in the finals where Splitter went for the big dunk and Lebron went straight up and stuffed it was sick.

  17. jimtron11 - Feb 8, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    LeBron James is delusional. His defense has actually taken a significant step backwards in ’13-’14 (blocks down from 0.9 per game last year to 0.3 this season, steals down from 1.7 per game to 1.4 this season). His defensive rebounds are also down by nearly one per game. As a team, Miami has been merely average (11th in PPG against, 20th in FG% against).

    • antistratfordian - Feb 8, 2014 at 5:47 PM

      Block, steal and rebound statistics have little to do with your defensive prowess. LeBron is doing things defensively that no one in the league, or in history, has ever had. As Jim Boeheim said of LeBron:

      They always say a guy can guard five positions – but I’ve never seen that. I’ve always heard about it. But this guy CAN guard five guys. He can guard your center, he can guard your small forward, big forward, point guard, two guard. You put him on anybody and he can guard them.

      And he means guard them well, not just stand there in front of them like a lot of other players have done at different positions.

      Or maybe Steve Kerr can convince you:

      I watched a game I remember in Salt Lake in January – Al Jefferson, one of the best low post players in the game, was just destroying Miami and Spoelstra put LeBron on Jefferson and he shut him down the whole fourth quarter. I don’t think he scored a point.

      The versatility of LeBron defensively is just incredible; I don’t think we’ve ever seen someone with that defensive range. Scottie Pippen probably comes closest, but LeBron is stronger than Scottie when guarding post up players like Jefferson.

      • sdlakerfan - Feb 9, 2014 at 4:19 PM

        Nice post but not totally convinced. And a name pops into my head that Steve Kerr should know and it isn’t Scottie Pippen.

        It’s Dennis Rodman – 7 time 1st team all NBA defensive team. 2 time DPOY. Record 7 consecutive yrs as NBA rebounding leader. Super quick feet, great athlete, and an expert at getting into opponents heads. If we’re talking history, I’ll take Rodman guarding 5 positions over Lebron easily.

      • antistratfordian - Feb 9, 2014 at 7:30 PM

        Cute. But Rodman didn’t defend 5 positions with any regularity at all. And Rodman was only the Pistons’ back-up Jordan stopper after Joe Dumars – who MJ said was the best defender he’s ever faced.

        You weren’t seeing Dennis Rodman switch on to someone like Allen Iverson or Kevin Johnson in the 4th quarter to shut them down – he couldn’t do that. He’d get burned. But LeBron can check those guys.

        Plus, is goes without saying that LeBron is bigger, stronger, faster, quicker, smarter – and he actually quarterbacks a defense while taking care of his own man – something Rodman never did and wasn’t even capable of doing. LeBron isn’t just out there defending well, he’s also coaching the defense while on the floor, as Coach K explains:

        When LeBron plays at the four or five, he’s behind a team. And when he talks then, it’s even more important, because he’s talking to guys who have their backs turned to you, his teammates, and he’s giving them instruction and he’s giving them guidance. And for him to be able to talk to a team from behind a team is an unbelievably unique situation. And he knows what he’s talking about.


        • “He’s the only player in the history of this game that can play all 5 positions offensively and defensively and play them well.” – Coach K

        • “Everybody knows LeBron’s the best player in the league – he’s the best defensive player in the league as well.” – Frank Vogel

        • “LeBron is a better defender than Michael Jordan.” – Berry Tramel, The Oklahoman

        • “James is one of the top 10 perimeter defenders of all time.” – Jeff Van Gundy

        • “LeBron was once a bad defender but is now the league’s best wing defender.” – David Thorpe

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