After a disappointing first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James came under a lot of criticism in the offseason with many wondering if he had finally begun to slow down after 16 NBA seasons.
A number of players were suddenly looking to lay claim as the best player in the league, but most pointed to Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo was absolutely dominant last season and coming into the 2019-20 NBA season, he was once again the hands on favorite to take home another award. But James spent the entire summer preparing to show the NBA that he wasn’t giving up that title yet. Even still, most around the league had a lot of questions, including some of James’ close friends.
Perkins pointed to, as an example of his avoiding bias, picking Giannis Antetokounmpo as his preseason pick for MVP, over his friend LeBron, with whom he spent a summer playing for the Oakland Soldiers, an AAU team, in high school.
That didn’t sit well with James, who had a message when Perkins told him of his preseason selection:
“I sent him a text and I said. ‘Look man, I’ve got Giannis ahead of you,’” Perkins said. “And that’s when he texted me back and said, ‘Oh don’t worry, I’m gonna reclaim my throne.’ And I was like, ‘OK, well then do it [expletive].’ He’s like, ‘I am, [expletive].’”
It was clear from the beginning of the season that James was on a mission to show the world he was still at the top of the heap in the NBA. He took over as the Lakers point guard, led the league in assists, and was outstanding all season in leading them to the best record in the Western Conference.
Coincidentally, the race was coming down to James and Antetokounmpo before the season was postponed. The latter had seemingly all but clinched his second consecutive award, but the former was quickly closing the gap and had even surpassed him on some ballots, though the majority still favored Antetokounmpo.
Nonetheless, James entered this season with a point to prove and he did exactly that. Even when his friends weren’t sure, he made it known that he was going to take back his crown and he did just that.