Funny, but LeBron James seemed more upset that he did not win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award than he was elated that he was again honored as the league’s MVP. That disposition, if nothing else, speaks to the unique mindset that makes him game’s preeminent player.
The Miami Heat guard/forward/center took the NBA’s top honor for the fourth time in his brilliant career. And, save for one inexplicable nod to the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony, took all first place votes.
Still, James hardly seemed unimpressed with the acknowledgment.
“I tried harder to win defensive player of the year than I did MVP,” he said. “That’s my goal. Coach (Erik Spoelstra) had me guarding every position. We’ll try again next year.”
This season was one of James’ best and most well-rounded. He shot a career-high 56.5 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from 3-point range. He averaged 26.8 points, a career-high 8.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game, while leading Miami to the best record in the league and a run of 27 straight victories.
Still, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe voted for Anthony, who led the NBA in scoring. Washburn wrote that without Anthony the Knicks would not have made the playoffs. He noted that James was ably assisted by fellow all-star Dwyane Wade. There is “no LeBron conspiracy,” he wrote.
To most everyone else, the MVP this year was a no-brainer. Even Anthony said: “LeBron gets it. I take my hat off to him, he deserves it.” He added, “They had a helluva year, to win 27 straight games, a hell of an achievement.”
“God gave him the ability to be a very, very special player,” Wade said of James. “You never know how long you’re going to have that, and he never takes it for granted.”
Heat president Pat Riley said gave James the ultimate compliment.
“Over these 46 years, I’ve had an opportunity to see some great players — and all the ones I’ve observed, watched and have seen, they’ve always gotten better,” Riley said from the podium as he turned to James. “In my humble opinion, I believe the man right here is the best of them all.”