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. Chris Bosh says he was ‘close’ to leaving the Heat in free agency

    Aug 1, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT

    Chris Bosh AP

    Bosh was very close to leaving Miami in free agency,

  2. Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver engage in three-point shooting contest at USA Basketball mini-camp (VIDEO)

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Klay Thompson and Kyle Korver engaged in a shooting contest at USA Basketball mini-camp in Vegas.

  3. Rosters announced for USA Basketball Showcase Friday night in Las Vegas

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:05 PM EDT

    2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team Practice Getty Images

    Mason Plumlee and DeMarcus Cousins will be on opposing teams in Friday’s exhibition.

  4. Report: Mason Plumlee likely to make Team USA roster over DeMarcus Cousins

    Jul 31, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT

    Phoenix Suns v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    USA roster has more than enough talent, so it can afford to sacrifice some to get positive attitudes in place.

  5. Kobe Bryant destroys some young fans in China in one-on-one (VIDEO)

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT

    Kobe Bryant Kobe Bryant

    It’s the memory of a lifetime… even if you get embarrassed.

  6. Report: Lakers contact Robert Horry about becoming assistant coach

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:11 PM EDT

    Horry puts shot up Getty Images

    Mark Madsen and Paul Pressey also reportedly candidates for Byron Scott’s staff

  7. John Wall’s goal for Wizards next season: ‘The Finals’

    Jul 31, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Washington Wizards Getty Images

    Wall raising expectations after Wizards met last season’s playoff goal

  8. Gary Payton on becoming an assistant coach: “I’m getting interested now”

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:51 PM EDT

    Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony - Press Conference Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony - Press Conference

    As tight as he is with Kidd, do you really think Payton would choose Milwaukee over Los Angeles?

  9. Bucks sign Jerryd Bayless, Johnny O’Bryant

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT

    Jerryd Bayless Jerryd Bayless

    Milwaukee, with Damien Inglis in limbo, now facing roster crunch

  10. Chandler Parsons, James Harden patch things up

    Jul 31, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT

    Chandler Parsons, James Harden Chandler Parsons, James Harden

    Like most “feuds,” once two rational people sit down and talk for a minute, everything dissipates.

  11. Kevin Durant says he’s deleting Twitter from his phone

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

    Kevin Durant Kevin Durant

    That means he’s signing with the Wizards, right?

  12. Report: Will Cherry to sign with Raptors

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    Montana v Syracuse Getty Images

    Barring another move, Toronto down to one roster spot for Lucas Nogueira or DeAndre Daniels

  13. Anthony Davis steps into spotlight, is Team USA’s lynchpin

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT

    2014 USA Basketball Practice Getty Images

    “We think he’s one of the top players in the league and we need for him to be that five that nobody has.” —Mike Krzyzewski on Anthony Davis

  14. Referee Violet Palmer comes out publicly as gay

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Palmer to marry celebrity hair stylist Tanya Stine

  15. Kings sign undrafted Eric Moreland

    Jul 31, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT

    Tarik Black, Eric Moreland Tarik Black, Eric Moreland

    Former Oregon State standout impresses with shot-blocking ability

Featured video

Why can't Lakers have a player-coach?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (3882)
  2. K. Love (3800)
  3. D. Rose (3573)
  4. K. Bryant (2518)
  5. R. Allen (2245)
  1. C. Anthony (2124)
  2. K. Durant (1993)
  3. B. Griffin (1910)
  4. E. Bledsoe (1872)
  5. D. Wade (1807)