Sports Column: LeBron James should be MVP

LeBron James holds the basketball as a Cleveland Cavalier during a game against the Washington Wizards in Washington D.C. in November 2014. James now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo courtesy of Keith Allison | KeithAllisonPhoto.com)
By Jesus Coronel

After the 2020 NBA season restarted in the Orlando bubble, fans anticipated the results of various awards, especially the Most Valuable Player.

There were plenty of players that deserved to win the award. Notable people included Kawhi Leonard, Luka Doncic, James Harden and Damian Lillard. But there were two people that stood out from the rest of the bunch: LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

In the MVP voting, 85 voted Antetokounmpo while James only received 16 votes. It was a bad decision. 

Let’s compare.

Both players have done the most work for their teams, each leading them to the number one seed in their respective conferences. James led the Los Angeles Lakers to an impressive playoff run after the missing out on the playoffs last year. Alongside teammate Anthony Davis, James helped the Lakers achieve a 52-19 record this season, an incredible turnaround from last year’s 37-45 record.

Antetokounmpo had an amazing season last year, in which he won the MVP. He kept that performance up for the Milwaukee Bucks this year, leading them to another number one seed at 56-17, with plenty of great performances to back that record.

If we compare James’ and Antetokounmpo’s stats, the latter was in the top five in points scored and second in defensive rebounds, while James was first in assists, 12th in points scored and 22nd in rebounds. 

Antetokounmpo’s stats are seen to be better, but stats don’t mean anything come playoff time because that is when the game gets serious.

The Bucks were embarrassed in the Eastern Conference Semifinals by the Miami Heat. Antetokounmpo was shut down the whole series as the Heat, led by Jimmy Butler, advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. 

It didn’t help much either that he was injured after Game 4 of the semifinals, but the team never recovered after being down three games to zero after Game 3. They ended up losing the series four games to one and many fans were disappointed with Antetokounmpo and impressed with Butler.

On the other hand, the Lakers are dominating in the playoffs. They knocked out the Portland Trail Blazers four games to one in the first round. 

Then they shut down Harden, Russell Westbrook and the Houston Rockets four games to one in the Western Conference Semifinals. Finally, they eliminated Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets four games to one in the Western Conference Finals, advancing to the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.

James has shown more prowess and capability throughout the playoffs, resembling his playoff performances as a Cleveland Cavalier. He was dominant, proving several critics wrong each time. 

It is shocking that James was not named MVP after a great turnaround season for not only himself, but the Lakers as a whole.

Yes, Antetokounmpo is a good player. But opposing teams have exposed his flaws. 

The Toronto Raptors shut him down as they moved through the Eastern Conference Finals last year and won the championship in 2019. This year, the Heat showed that Antetokounmpo has his weaknesses. 

He isn’t comfortable taking three-point shots and works mostly in the paint. If teams can shut that down, then the defense can shift to a good offense as well as rattle him in the process.

Damon Jones, James’ former teammate, was outraged by the MVP voting results. 

“After seeing the final numbers of the MVP voting, I’m nauseous,” Jones tweeted. “Sixteen first place votes for @KingJames out of 101 votes. We need to figure out a better system here. This is downright disrespectful. We need more transparency in this process.”

Jones was right. James should have won.

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