Each year, when the NBA season heads into its stretch run and the MVP race inevitably starts to heat up, we’re forced to re-evaluate just where exactly LeBron James fits into the discussion. With the rise of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden the past few years, the former four-time winner has, astoundingly, become something of an afterthought.
Yet even after Curry won the award unanimously last year, putting the punctuation mark on one of the greatest individual seasons in league history, LeBron used the Finals to remind everyone that he’s still, by far, the best player on the planet. The problem isn’t with LeBron. The problem is obviously with us. We’ve come to take his production, efficiency, and consistency for granted. The past few years, his season averages have been right on par with his previous MVP seasons, yet we rarely consider him a serious candidate anymore.
But LeBron himself isn’t worried about individual regular-season accolades, according to Cavs GM David Griffin, who spoke about it on The Lowe Post podcast on Monday:
“If he could win Finals MVP, I think that would matter to him,” Griffin said. “I think he really cares about that, because it comes with winning. I don’t think he cares about the regular-season MVP thing. I mean, sure, everybody wants to be considered the best player, but he already is. I mean, everybody knows he is. When you played during Jordan’s years and if you won the MVP – Michael Jordan’s the best player and everybody knows it – you just had the best season at the given time. So again, LeBron transcends the game of basketball. He transcends awards. I don’t think he cares about any of that.”
Griffin is probably right, although LeBron has made it clear that he’s chasing the specter of Michael Jordan (who is still very much alive and well). Jordan and his five regular-season MVPs still hold the advantage over LeBron in that department, but LeBron is likely much more focused on those six championship rings.