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MVP talk intrigues LeBron James; Lakers back him for award

LeBron James talks to other players
Lakers forward LeBron James talks to teammate Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope during their win over Charlotte on Thursday night at Staples Center.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Eighteen years of playing NBA basketball and LeBron James still looks like a strong contender for the most valuable player award. Eighteen years of playing at a high level and James still dominates the game like few have. Eighteen years of playing all-around superb basketball and James is still chasing greatness that few have attained.

James is 36 and he’s still producing numbers like the 37 points on 14-for-22 shooting, eight rebounds and six assists in carrying the Lakers to a 116-105 win over Charlotte on Thursday night at Staples Center.

To be crowned MVP of the league this season, to get the award over so many other worthy candidates, would mean a lot to James.

“Well, for me personally, the MVP, I try to be there every night for my ballclub. And being available to them and being the best player on the floor every night,” James said on Zoom after the game Thursday. “… You rewarded with that reward, it is something, it means something for sure. I’m not going to sit here and say it doesn’t mean anything to me.

“And for me to be able to win it a few times in my career [has] always been special. And being in the running, hearing my name with some of the best basketball players in the league this year again, it would mean a lot. At my age, what I’m able to do, what I’ve been doing this whole season, what I bring to the table every single night on both sides of the floor, it would mean an unbelievable thing for me, especially at this point in my career. So, we just see where the chips may lay.”

James has won the award four times — in 2013, 2012, 2010 and 2009. He would become the oldest MVP winner, surpassing Karl Malone, who was 35 when he won it in 1999.

Lakers star LeBron James, now part of groups that own the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC, continues to prepare for the day he’s an NBA team owner.

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Every year, it seems, James is called the best player in the world. His teammates and coaches strongly believe James should have more MVP trophies.

What does James think?

“Umm, I should have more than four, I believe. But ... I don’t sit around thinking about it or crying about it, or whatever the case may be,” James said. “I just try to come in the next season and be the MVP and be talked about it again. I bet a lot of the greatest that played this game feel like they should have more as well. If you ask anyone of those guys. So, this is another opportunity for me to able to be recognized as the best player for that particular season, and this season. So, hopefully I can continue to just play great basketball and see what happens at the end.”

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo won the MVP award the last two years.

When this season started, James was considered the favorite. Then Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid became the favorite until his knee injury sidelined him.

Now James is back being the front-runner.

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“I just think it’s, what’s the right word? It’s a mistake on the voters’ part to go season after season without voting the best player in the league MVP. You know what I mean?” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said on a videoconference after the game Thursday. “That’s the simplest way to put it. There’s been other players that have been deserving, but he’s been the best player in the league for as long as I can remember. Maybe since his second, third year in the league. It’s just one of those things that’s unfortunate. It’s not right. And he should get it this year. He’s doing it every night and no one is as deserving.”

James is averaging 25.8 points per game, 8.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists.

He has the Lakers sitting in second place in the Western Conference, 1½ games behind the Utah Jazz.

And James has had to do much of his work with running mate Anthony Davis sidelined because of a strained right calf.

“I mean, he’s the best player that ever played the game in my opinion. I stated that. I think many feel that,” Vogel said of James. “And he continues to prove it with his play. It’s just that simple. For him to do it this long through a change — like you just mentioned, too — stylistically with the way the game is played now as opposed to even four, five years ago.

“To still be this dominant. To still be the best player in the league is just remarkable and obviously he’s doing a great job for us, for the Lakers to continue to win games and keep us afloat while a guy like Anthony Davis is out.”

Highlights from the Lakers’ 116-105 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on March 18, 2021, at Staples Center.

Kyle Kuzma said that “it matters” if James wins the MVP because it means his teammates “did our job.”

“But the NBA MVP is a very political award,” Kuzma said on Zoom late Thursday night. “So, you know, Bron should have been the MVP at least eight, nine, 10 times. Everybody knows that.”


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