The NBA on Friday night released the three finalists for this year’s MVP award that featured Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets point guard James Harden, and San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, according to ESPN.
However, this left off Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James out of the top three for voting for the MVP award for the first time since the 2007-08 season. In the last eight seasons, James has won the prestigious honor four times, which ties him for third-most all-time in league history with Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain.
For the first time in 9 seasons, LeBron James is not in the top 3 of MVP voting. pic.twitter.com/5VvmnxIgeL
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 20, 2017
Following a convincing 130-86 win in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals over the Boston Celtics, LeBron James acknowledged that he was unaware of the MVP award finalists announcement while also brushing aside its significance by stating the league knows how valuable he is on the court.
LeBron James on not being 1 of 3 MVP finalists: “My only job is to be the MVP for this team… This league knows what I bring to the table.” pic.twitter.com/Urx7qAznKO
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 20, 2017
“I didn’t see it. What are you going to do about it at the end of the day?” LeBron James said. “My only job is to try and be the MVP of this team every night (and) put my teammates in a chance to be successful to ultimate lead to a championship. I know what I bring to the table. This league knows what I bring to the table. It’s for you guys to write about and not for me to be concerned about.”
Among the three finalists nominated for the award is Westbrook, who is believed to be the heavy favorite to win it for the first time in his career. He is coming off a stellar individual campaign that saw him join Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as the only players in league history to average a triple-double for an entire season.
He also broke the single-season mark that was also held by Robertson with 42 triple-doubles. Westbrook led the league in scoring at 31.6 points along with being second with 10.4 assists and 10.7 rebounds per game.
Although Westbrook put together a historic season that deserves much recognition to be in the conversation for the MVP award, it has shifted away attention from the strong regular season that LeBron James put together. James averaged 26.4 points on 54.8 percent shooting from the field along with posting careers with 8.7 assists and 8.6 rebounds.
These numbers made LeBron James just the third player in league history to average at 25.0 points, 8.0 assists, 8.0 rebounds while shooting 50 percent or better from the field in a single season. Along with that, LeBron James was also the only player in the league this year to hold those averages while shooting better than 50 percent from the field.
What has been most impressive is that LeBron James has expanded on that in the playoffs taking his game up another notch by leading the Cavaliers to a perfect 10-0 start to the postseason, including sweeping through the first two rounds.
Following definitive blowout against the Celtics in Game 2, Lebron James tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the all-time mark in league history with 10 straight playoff games with at least 25 points while shooting better than 50 percent from the field in each contest.
LeBron James is the first player in NBA playoff history to record at least 240 points, 50 rebounds and 50 assists in a team’s first seven playoffs games. He is the first player since Michael Jordan to score at least 30 points in eight straight playoff games.
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) May 20, 2017
In the first-round series against the Indiana Pacers, LeBron James became the first player in NBA history to average at least 32.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 blocks in a single playoff series.
LeBron James is playing arguably the best basketball of his career in his 14th season in the league that has the Cavaliers on pace to be back in the NBA Finals for a third straight year with an opportunity to defend their NBA title.
[Featured Image by Charles Krupa/AP Images]