It was when LeBron James was a kid that he developed the mindset of team.
”I was always taught it’s team first,” James told the AP on Friday. ”My first time playing basketball, we went undefeated and won a championship and Frank Walker Sr. gave everyone on the team a MVP trophy. Right then and there, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to see my teammates reap the benefits as well.”
He has maintained that disposition, but his individual talent has been overwhelming, so much that he will for the third time be named the NBA’s most valuable player, putting him in rarefied air.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the MVP six times, Michael Jordan and Bill Russell five times each and Wilt Chamberlain four times. They are the only players with more than James. Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone also have been so honored three times.
James likely will receive the trophy in Miami Sunday before Game 1 of the Miami Heat’s second-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers.
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James said last week that while another MVP award ”would be amazing and would be humbling,” it’s not what drives him. In his ninth year in the NBA, he is determined to win a championship.
”I think he’s probably as committed as he’s ever been in his career,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said this week, asked to summarize James’ season. ”And he’s always been committed. … We all respond to his energy on the court.”
James averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists – making him only the fourth player with those totals in at least two different seasons, according to STATS LLC, joining Oscar Robertson (five times), John Havlicek (twice) and Bird (twice).