After a blowout victory over Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, LeBron James sat down to discuss the MVP results of 2019-20 NBA season. He was evidently pissed at the outcome and more so on the fact that he has been finishing second throughout his career even though he was the clear winner.
16 out of 101 ! Ok cool! I got y’all.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 19, 2020
Ever since the announcement of 2020 Most Valuable Player Award, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been facing backlash on social media. This could very well be attributed to the fact that the Milwaukee Bucks were knocked out of the playoffs in just the second round by 5th seeded Miami Heat. And to everyone’s surprise, Giannis Antetokounmpo came out with the statement, “don’t call me MVP until I win a championship“. This ensued debates everywhere including Shaquille O’Neal making a case for LeBron James and Draymond Green defending the vote.
LeBron James weighed in on the situation with his own statement in postgame press conference.
“It pissed me off because out of a 101 votes I got 16 first place votes. That’s what pissed me off more than anything. Not saying that the winner wasn’t deserving of the MVP but that pissed me off. And I finished second a lot tin my career either from a championship and now four times as the MVP”
"It pissed me off."
—LeBron on this year's MVP voting pic.twitter.com/K2qTY2QaRS
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 19, 2020
Although there wasn’t considerable improvement offensively, LeBron James has improved his playmaking skills to another level averaging 10.2 assists this season, highest in the NBA. Even at the age of 35, he is breaking record after record in the playoffs. One could argue that MVP is a regular-season award but it is hard to ignore how he improves his teammates. On the other hand, Giannis Antetokounmpo finished the regular season with the highest offensive rating in the history of the NBA. In addition, Giannis Antetokounmpo won DOPY and MVP in the same season becoming only the third player to do so joining Hakeen Olajuwon and Michael Jordan in this elite club.
LeBron James is the best player in the NBA but Giannis Antetokounmpo had a better season.
LeBron James believes narrative plays a huge role in voting
Further, LeBron James reflected on every instance in his 17-year long career where he finished second in votings. He went on to point out inconsistencies he has observed throughout his career.
AD on LeBron not getting MVP: “He deserves it. It’s not even a question. Year 17 doing what he’s doing… "
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) September 19, 2020
“The voting scale is a little weird to me sometimes. I mean if you take 2012-2013 I had a chance to be DOPY and MVP in the same season. Marc Gasol was votes DOPY but he made second team all defence. That doesn’t make sense that’s when I started looking at things differently. Again I looked at the most improved this year and rightfully saw Brandon ingram win but did you see the votes that Devonte Graham got? He was 4 points last year compared to 17.5 this year. If that’s not improving what is?. It’s a weird thing sometimes, I don’t know how much we are really watching the game of basketball or we just in the narration mode, “the narrative”.
2017 is a good example of narrative playing a big role in MVP race. Russell Westbrook averaging a triple double and Kevin Durant leaving Oklahoma City Thunder won him his first MVP Award but was he a deserving candidate? The answer would be no as OKC finished 6th in western conference. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo led his team to 56 wins this season compared to Lakers’ 52 with better stats.
Michael Jordan won several MVP awards and preceded to get knocked out in playoffs but no one questions his legacy.