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Monday, May 06, 2013

LeBron James Joins Pro Basketball's Elite Four MVP Club

LeBron James is steadily moving toward the top of Pro Basketball's Honor Roll. James fell one vote short of becoming the NBA's first unanimous regular season MVP but by winning the 2013 MVP he joined the sport's exclusive Four MVP Club:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 6 (1971-72, 1974, 1976-77, 1980)
Bill Russell: 5 (1958, 1961-63, 1965)
Michael Jordan: 5 (1988, 1991-92, 1996, 1998)
Wilt Chamberlain: 4 (1960, 1966-68)
Julius Erving: 4 (1974-76 [ABA], 1981)
LeBron James: 4 (2009-10, 2012-13)

Abdul-Jabbar was 29 years old when he won his fourth MVP; he won two more regular season MVPs and he also captured a Finals MVP (his second such honor) as a 38 year old. Russell was 29 years old when he won his fourth MVP and 31 years old when he won his fifth MVP. Jordan was 33 years old when he won his fourth MVP (after taking nearly two full seasons off to play minor league baseball) and 35 years old when he won his fifth MVP; Jordan is the oldest regular season MVP in pro basketball history. Erving is the forgotten member of this exclusive club because the NBA and the mainstream media continue to ignore ABA statistics and ABA award winners. Erving was the first non-center to win three straight MVPs (he shared the second of those three MVPs with George McGinnis). Erving was 31 years old when he won his fourth MVP. He was the first non-center to win the NBA MVP since Oscar Robertson in 1964; Erving's 1981 MVP paved the way for Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan--and LeBron James.

James' fourth MVP elevates him above a very special trio of three-time MVPs: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone. James is just 28 years old and presumably has several prime seasons in front of him. If he stays healthy and motivated he has a realistic chance to tie or even break Abdul-Jabbar's record. James and Russell are the only pro basketball players who won four MVPs in a five season stretch--and James should have received the 2011 MVP (the infamous "Decision" probably cost him that honor), which means that on merit James should have won an unprecedented five straight MVPs!

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posted by David Friedman @ 4:30 AM



At Monday, May 06, 2013 9:30:00 AM, Anonymous AW said...

I actually see LeBron breaking Jabbars record.
And I agree that Lebron should have won mvp in 2011. Not taking anything away from Rose, he got it because of his team having the best record in the eastern conference. He wasn't more impressive than LeBron. I don't really use the "decision" as a factor really.

The most impressive thing about it is thst LeBron os still under thirty years old. I wouldn't be suprosed of he had at least eight mvps by age 34 or 35. We may be yeats before we see another player rack up mvps at this fast of a rate.

At Monday, May 06, 2013 3:24:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Rose is a great player but he is not better than James and he did not have a better 2011 season than James did. I believe that the 2011 MVP voting reflected a backlash against James' "Decision." James subsequently worked on his game and his mindset, apologized for his mistakes and seemingly has been forgiven by most people outside of Cleveland.

At Monday, May 06, 2013 3:36:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

The identity of the one dissenting voter has been revealed and he has attempted to explain his ridiculous choice; that information is easy enough to find for anyone who is interested in doing so but I will not provide additional publicity for someone who wanted to draw attention to himself by being stupid. There is certainly room for healthy dissent in any form of discourse but LeBron James is clearly the best player in basketball and he deserved the honor of being the only unanimous MVP selection. Anthony does not even belong in the MVP discussion, so it is ridiculous to elevate him above not just James but also Durant and Bryant.

If the dissenting voter really believes that he voted on merit--that Anthony really is more valuable than James--and if he really had no idea that he would be the only dissenting voter (and thus get more publicity for himself than all of the other voters combined) then he is so clueless that it is hard to take seriously anything that he says or writes about the NBA.

At Monday, May 06, 2013 5:59:00 PM, Anonymous AW said...

Yeah, LeBron should have gotten a unanimous vote.
But you do have a good case that he didn't get mvp two years ago because of the"decision". At the time I didn't really think of that for the reason he didn't get it. I think at times the league doesn't like to give the award to the same player over again so even if that person deserved it so they looked elsewhere; and that's where Rose came in at.

You're correct Carmelo shouldn't have gotten a vote.

You already mentioned that you don't think Carmelo is an elite player. You mentioned he doesnt perform at an elite level consistently enough. Which I agree with. But where do you rank Him? We both agree That LeBron, Durant, A fully healthy Kobe anda fully healthy Dwight are top five players. Who is the other guy in your top five? Westbrook? You already mentioned how you felt about Chris Paul. What about Rose at 100 percent?

Another thing I wanted to mention. Not only do superstar/ franchise players are first team all nba calibir players and are capable of leading a team to the title as the undisputed best player on a team. They also can have a team built around them from scratch and can consistently lead not so good teams to the playoffs.

But you know just because a team doesn't jave one of these elite type players doesnt mean that they cant win the title. If either Indiana, Memphis or Dan Antonio wons the championship, that doesnt make George, Randolph, or Parker superstars. Though the media would hype them up as that.

At Monday, May 06, 2013 7:00:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


My top five without regard to position, assuming that each player is fully healthy, would be LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Russell Westbrook.

In my awards article I put Chris Paul in the top five in the MVP race because Howard was not fully healthy/fully effective this season; for that same reason, I chose Brook Lopez as my All-NBA First Team center even though Lopez is not an elite player: by rule, the All-NBA Team must have a center and I don't think that Howard played at an All-NBA First Team level this season.

Anthony made my All-NBA Second Team this season. Throughout his career I would rank him as a top 10-top 20 player.

The only team in the past 30 years that won a championship without an elite player is the 2004 Pistons, so I am not worried about having to explain how Indiana or Memphis won the 2013 championship. The Spurs do not have a player who is currently elite but they have Tim Duncan--who used to be elite and is still very, very good--plus Tony Parker, who is just a notch below being elite. That duo, plus a great coach and solid depth, could carry the Spurs to the title if something happens to the Heat.

At Tuesday, May 07, 2013 7:26:00 AM, Blogger Matthias said...

Hmm, the depleted Bulls happened to the Heat, at least in game one. We will see, if the Lebron of 2010/2011 will continue his appearance in this series. Truly amazing how Jimmy Buttler could nearly match Lebron's output and defend him so well. And again we have seen the reason one could argue Joakim Noah should have been considered DPOY. It's a shame he had so many injuries.

At Tuesday, May 07, 2013 8:39:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


James did not have a great game by his standards but I would not compare this to the passive, indifferent way that he played at times during the 2010 and 2011 playoffs.

I predicted that the Bulls would fight the Heat "tooth and nail" but I expressed skepticism that the Bulls could generate enough offense to beat the Heat four times. I still feel the same way on both counts. We have seen Miami lose game one of a series and then sweep the next four games, so the Bulls still have a lot of work to do to pull off the upset.

At Tuesday, May 07, 2013 1:14:00 PM, Blogger Hank said...

..probably we have to distinguish the MVP from the "better player"..

Bill Russell won against Wilt 3 mvps.. instead great and immeasurable numbers made by wilt (and in fact he was made first team..)

Most Valuable Player.. non better player. There's a thin line that can (because it could be the same) distinguish the two.

Bulls had not the best team. At all.. but in RS they were the best.

Sorry for my English, i hope i explane my pov.

At Tuesday, May 07, 2013 2:57:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


During the Chamberlain-Russell era, the players voted for the MVP and the media voted for the All-NBA Team, which explains how a player could win the MVP yet not make the All-NBA First Team. Starting in 1981, the media took over the MVP voting because it seemed like the players were letting personal grudges/rivalries affect the voting (though of course media members have their own biases).

It is difficult to accept the premise that Rose was better than James in 2011 and/or that Rose had a better/more valuable season than James did--but the "Decision" resulted in a lot of backlash and I strongly believe that this backlash influenced the MVP voting. I criticized the "Decision" as much as anyone but I also stated--during/after the 2011 season--that James deserved the MVP. It is a shame that the official voters did not view the situation objectively.

At Tuesday, May 07, 2013 6:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David I am a fan of your blog for quite a while and I usually do not post comments in any of the blogs and sports sites that I read, however it seems that I starting to develop a new habit, because just yesterday I posted at the Silver Screen and Roll the following:
I never post because almost always there are some many great posts from the writers and from the regular SSR readers that I was deemed unnecessary to write something, however today I would like to say something. I became a Lakers fan in 1975 when my parents came to UCLA to study. In the 1975-1976 season the Lakers did not make the playoffs, the starters were: Kareem, Lucius Allen, Gail Goodrich and (I think) Cazzie Russell and Cornell Warner as forwards, though Don Ford started a couple of games. Well, that season was a very bad season in the LA history of the franchise and as mentioned in the discussion the 2004-2005 season was even worse, that is why after everything that happened this year I would call this last one of the most heroic seasons in the Laker history! By the way, Kareem was named MVP for the 1975-1976 season, people were smarter back then. Kobe would have at least two more MVPs if we had the same criteria for deciding the MVP trophy that we had in the seventies and eighties.
The last two lines are the ones that are important to me now. OK, I understand that Lebron now has 4 MVPs and I also acknowledge that in the last 3 years he evolved to be considered the “best player” of his generation. However, just recently Nowitzki in Grantland and also Wade expressed their views that Kobe has been the best player of this era. I remember when Larry Bird said (jokingly I know) that he was about to return his Larry O’Brien trophy when finally Kobe was named MVP. Furthermore, in 2008 Olympic Games it was clear that Kobe was considered the best in the team as the final 5 minutes of the gold medal game proves. Now, to me the fact that Kobe has just one MVP shows the media bias against him and had the players voted for MVPs in this last decade Kobe would have in my opinion won in 2005-2006, 2006-2007, and the 2008-2009. The media bias starts with rise of people with insufficient knowledge of statistics writing for the media, in particular ESPN (I remember when John Hollinger wrote that Tracy McGrady was better than Kobe for the Sports Illustrated website!). Unfortunately for Kobe, the rape case against him in 2003 seems to have influenced many of these MVP voters (but then shame on them, because the case was dropped as we all know and in this country the justice says you are innocent unless…).
I come from South America there we judge great soccer players not only by efficiency but by skill, and in terms of skill I have to see a player as skilled as Kobe in the last 12 years in the NBA, just as Roger Federer is in another sport ( but that we can argue in your other blog). Kobe, also Jordan and Erving, plays basketball the way Ali boxed, Lebron plays basketball the way Tyson boxed. To me that is key difference, how to decide who is the best.
All the best


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