LeBron James has always been the one to take the win when the chips are down and everything counts. While he might frustrate fans through the main season, he always shows up for his team during the postseason. He has a habit of preserving his energy and avoiding unnecessary energy so he can be there when it matters in the pressure moments. When fans like this or not, it shows that the man understands his value to the Lakers.
Frank Vogel might be accused of being biased, but he is convinced that his man James should be voted the MVP this year. If you had asked us before the teams showed up to the Orlando bubble, we would have said it was Giannis to lose. His dominance for the Bucks throughout the season made him a natural choice. However, watching James step up leads us to agree with Vogel – the prize should go to his man.
LeBron vs. Giannis
So, it is clear, the Milwaukee Bucks star player Giannis Antetokounmpo was pretty much already labeled with the award MVP before the postseason began. It would be his second in a row and not without merit. He has had an incredible season. However, at this point, James was still in the hunt and there was definitely a debate emerging about the battle between the two.
As always, James is more than capable of shaping a narrative. He upped his levels at the same time as Giannis was forced to nurse a knee injury. This final month of play has been extraordinary from James, and so we find our mind changed – along with a lot of commentators.
Vogel accepts that it might be too late for James to catch the Greek before the end of the championship, no matter how deserving. However, he makes the argument that he absolutely should gain the prestige because he impacts a win more than anyone else. He was fundamental in the success over the bucks and then again over the Clippers. Having been instrumental in beating the Lakers’ two closest rivals is the biggest argument for his MVP status.
Vogel points out that in both those games LeBron James was happy to step forward and take the toughest assignment on the court. He guarded Leonard in the Clippers game and Giannis in the Bucks game. Not only did he deliver on the offensive court but exhibited dominance in defense that was inspiring.
His League Leading STATS
If you think all this is an opinion and driven by bias, well let’s take a look at the stats. James is in his 17th season and leads the league this season with a career-high 10.6 assists per game. Add to this his average of 15.7 points and 7.9 rebounds and your mouth should rightly fall open. He has a 50% shooting record from the field and 35% from the three-point range. He is making a career-high 6.4 attempts per game – in his 17th season. This is an almost inhuman record for someone who should really be slowing up now.
And, you see, this is the rub. He is able to raise his game in the 17th season because he understands his body and when his influence is needed. Sure, Giannis is an undoubted workhorse and shows up with freakish consistency. However, he doesn’t have another level to bring to the party when it matters as James does. He can’t change gear and declare now I am going to dominate the court and bring this win for my team. LeBron James does have this other gear.
If James was to win this year’s MVP it would be his fifth award. He would be tied with Michael Jordan and Bill Russell for the second most MVPs of all time. He would only need one more to match the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s stellar record.
So, while he might not have been handed the MVP this year – we believe it is a travesty that he didn’t. The fact he only received 16 first-place votes is just plain shocking. Year on year people declare him the best basketball player to have ever played – and yet his last MVP was in 2013. His stats speak of career highs in most areas of his game – how could he not deserve the award this year?
As James said in his defense after the results were released, he only ever seeks to get better each day. He is also not in bad company. It is clear that Kobe Bryant should also have had more than one MVP, Jordan definitely dominated for longer than his record of MVPs suggests. Sometimes the votes are cast for more arbitrary reasons than who is the best basketball player that year. Sometimes the votes are cast well before the postseason has written its script.
James is a once-in-a-generation player and the NBA missed an opportunity to give him the fifth crown to represent this dominance.