LeBron James unhappy to receive so few votes for NBA MVP

Lakers star LeBron James stands next to teammate Rajon Rondo, center, and Denver's Nikola Jokic.
Lakers star LeBron James is all business next to Rajon Rondo, center, and Denver’s Nikola Jokic during the Lakers’ 126-114 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Friday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

After the Lakers won Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Friday, LeBron James gave his honest reaction to MVP voting, which was won by Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo for a second consecutive year. He was “pissed off” that he got only 16 out of 101 votes for the award. It’s voted on by media members from markets around the country (the Los Angeles Times doesn’t vote in league awards as a matter of policy).

But after James spoke about his own position, he riffed on the structure of the award and other league awards.

“It’s just the voting scale is a little weird to me sometimes,” James said. “I mean, if you take 2012. If you just stick with me — or 2012-13, I had a chance to be Defensive Player of the Year and also MVP in the same season. And that year [Marc] Gasol was [voted] Defensive Player of the Year, but he made second team all-defense, OK.

“So that doesn’t make sense. It’s like being MVP of the league but you make second team All-NBA. That’s when I really started to look at things kind of like differently. I was like, how does that even make any sense? It’s like being rookie of the year but you make second team all-rookie.”


He then turned his thoughts to Most Improved Player, an award won by his former teammate Brandon Ingram, who had a standout year with the New Orleans Pelicans.

“Brandon Ingram was amazing and I thought he should have won it,” James said. “But did you see the vote that Devonte’ Graham [of the Charlotte Hornets] got? He averaged four points last year compared to 17 and a half. If that’s not improving, what is?”

James said he wondered if the narrative more than the basketball was driving some of the voting.

Anthony Davis finishes with 37 points and LeBron James has 15 points and 12 assists in the Lakers’ 126-114 win over the Nuggets in Game 1.

Sept. 18, 2020