After picking up his 4th MVP trophy, Miami Heat star LeBron James gained a new appreciation for the rivalry his team has with the Knicks.
James, 28, became the youngest player in NBA history to win 4 MVP after receiving 120 of 121 first-place votes by league media members and analysts. The lone other 1st-place vote went to N.Y Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.
It was the 2nd time a player fell one vote short of an unanimous MVP selection, with Shaquille O’Neal also receiving 120 of 121 1st-place votes in 1999-2000.
“It’s probably a writer out of New York that didn’t give me the vote,” James said during Sunday’s award ceremony at American Airlines Arena. “I know the history between the Heat and the Knicks. So I get it.”
A league spokesman asserted the NBA does not release the names of award voters or their ballots. But coming up short of a unanimous selection failed to overshadow a historic achievement for James, who joined Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain as the sole players in NBA history to win at least 4 MVP awards.
James also joined Russell as the only players to win the award 4 times in 5 seasons. And it was the 3rd MVP trophy James has collected in the span of 12 months. After winning the MVP last season May, James stated that he would trade in his 3rd Maurice Podoloff trophy for a 1st championship. Two months later on he led the Heat to a title and was named Finals MVP after beating the Thunder.
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant finished second to James in MVP voting for the 2nd straight year, with Anthony 3rd, Chris Paul 4th and Kobe Bryant 5th in votes.
James is coming off the most effective season he’s ever had after shooting 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.
Now, James has his sights set on another evasive honor: Defensive Player of the Year. James was upset 2 weeks ago when he came 2nd for the second time in his career for that distinction. Grizzlies center Marc Gasol was named defensive player of the year.
“I tried hard to win defensive player of the year than I did MVP,” James related. “That’s my goal. Coach (Erik Spoelstra) had me guarding every position. We’ll try again next year.” NFL betting lines
But before that, James will try help the Heat defend their title when they open Game 1 of their 2nd-round series against the Bulls. The Heat haven’t played since they finished a 4-game sweep of the Bucks on May 28 in the opening round.
“I’ve been anxious for a while,” James asserted. “But I’m just excited to get back to basketball right now.”
Perhaps the highest praise for James came from Heat president Pat Riley, who started the ceremony by saying he has been round the NBA game for virtually 50 years as a player, coach, director or front-office executive.