Skip to content

LeBron James’ 61-point game re-ignites MVP race with Kevin Durant

Mar 4, 2014, 12:02 AM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat Getty Images

LeBron James could barely muster the strength to lift his head.

He walked upcourt with his eyes to the ground, looked up to wave a dribbling Mario Chalmers ahead, and then dropped his eyes back to the court. The Miami Heat called timeout, and LeBron removed his facemask while dragging himself toward the bench.

Spent from the highest-scoring game of both his career and the Heat franchise – 61 points in a 124-107 win over of the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday – LeBron looked like he just need a seat, a towel and a rest.

But the celebration interfered.

He high-fived and hugged Chalmers. He shook hands with Ray Allen. He high-fived Udonis Haslem and Michael Beasley. He hugged Chris Andersen. He high-fived Rashard Lewis, looked around and then high-fived Lewis again. He hit Dwyane Wade with a triple low-five, a double high-five and then a shoulder bump. He found Erik Spoelstra and hugged him. He waved to the crowd. He got a pat on the back from Chris Bosh.

As the game resumed, the deafening noise in Miami found purpose. “MVP! MVP! MVP!” the crowd chanted.

Suddenly, LeBron is back in the MVP game.

After spending half the season drifting in the celebration of his recent successes – back-to-back championships, MVPs and NBA Finals MVPs and four MVPs in the last five years – LeBron finally appears ready to challenge Kevin Durant for 2013-14 MVP.

Durant had become the consensus choice for the award, because he’s having a better season than LeBron. The MVP, after all, is an annual honor granted for play in a given year.

But pose the question a little differently. Who is the best player in the NBA? I bet most would have chosen LeBron, even before tonight’s career outing.

Carrying a larger load with Russell Westbrook out certainly bolstered Durant’s MVP case, but so did LeBron’s apathy. There was always a sense LeBron could reclaim his crown if he wanted to.

Monday, it sure seemed like he wanted to. He torched the Bobcats with purpose, making his first eight 3-point attempts and needing just 33 shots to score his 61 points.

This was the type of signature performance that can swing voters in a tight MVP race, but first, LeBron must make the MVP race tight. One fantastic night won’t wow enough voters, not when Durant captured the basketball world for a whole month with his 12-game streak of 30-point games.

Soon, the vivid memories of LeBron’s 61-point game will fade. He’ll need to bolster this performance with a strong close to the regular season the same way he strongly closed this game after exiting it.

Despite looking so exhausted before his celebration, LeBron never took a seat on the bench while his teammates finished the final couple minutes. Long postseason runs might have sapped LeBron of some energy earlier in the season, but they didn’t keep him down permanently.

On the floor in Miami after his historic game and in the MVP race, LeBron James is still standing.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Nate Robinson considering offer from Chinese team

    Sep 5, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Nate Robinson, Shawn Marion Nate Robinson, Shawn Marion

    Robinson played for the Nuggets and Clippers last season.

  2. D’Angelo Russell says Kobe Bryant is “mentally on another level”

    Sep 5, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Getty Images

    “I always preach, I didn’t get here from being the most athletic guy, the fastest guy, the tallest guy, or the strongest, I got here from my mind.” —D’Angelo Russell

  3. Tony Parker talks about playing for legacy with Spurs, France

    Sep 5, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwq2ztywmty4njnjy2y5nzvkzda1ytkzngqyowe3mzzj AP

    Is he the best European ever in the NBA?

  4. Report: Kendall Marshall near deal with Sixers

    Sep 4, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    He’s coming off an ACL surgery and misses the start of the season.

  5. Eric Bledsoe: Suns not content just sneaking into the playoffs

    Sep 4, 2015, 2:24 PM EDT

    Phoenix Suns v San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    Given the strength of the Western Conference, they should be

  6. Report: NBA would continue to receive national TV money during work stoppage

    Sep 4, 2015, 1:25 PM EDT

    John Skipper, David Levy, Ted Leonsis, Adam Silver AP

    That’ll make owners more prone to locking out players

  7. Report: Rockets signing four free agents, including Chris Walker

    Sep 4, 2015, 12:23 PM EDT

    SEC Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Florida vs Alabama Getty Images

    Houston also reportedly adding Denzel Livingston, Remi Yusuf, Will Cummings

  8. JaVale McGee says he’s close to healthy, will be ready for season

    Sep 4, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    JaVale McGee AP

    If he’s healthy and the vintage, athletic McGee Dallas could use him.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2116)
  2. K. Irving (1709)
  3. A. Davis (1598)
  4. R. Rubio (1544)
  5. L. James (1510)
  1. K. Durant (1502)
  2. K. Bryant (1457)
  3. T. Thompson (1275)
  4. J. Clarkson (1214)
  5. A. Aminu (1167)