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Lakers News: LeBron James Discusses What Winning 2019-20 NBA MVP Award Would Mean To Him

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LeBron James is no stranger to the NBA Most Valuable Player award as he is one of just five players to have won it four times, doing so over a five-year span between 2009-13.

And for the 2019-20 NBA season with the Los Angeles Lakers, James is looking to add to that total and bring home a fifth award.

In his 17th season, James continues to defy all logic, being as effective as ever while playing point guard full-time and leading the league in assists. His level of play has him right in the thick of the discussion, but most still see Giannis Antetokounmpo as the clear favorite to walk away with the award for the second straight season.

lesbron james & colleage

Even still the possibility remains that James could overtake the favorite and bring home another award. James recently spoke about the possibility following the team’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans. In a postgame interview, James said that winning the award would be a sign of how great his team has been as a whole, as opposed to his individual performance:

“At the end of the day, it means you had team success. It means that your teammates put in all of the sacrifices just as much as you did. They went out and they tried to play as hard as they could to try and win because you can’t be a league MVP without team success and your teammates doing all the dirty work.”

Lesbron James pointing

James continued on, noting that he’s simply focused on each individual game:

“For me, I try to be an MVP every single night for our team on both ends of the floor offensively and defensively with my command, with my voice, with my approach. If that results in an award, then so be it.”

This is the approach James has taken all season so he doesn’t plan on changing it now and considering the results, he shouldn’t. James has put together one of the best seasons of his career, but whether or not he can surpass Antetokounmpo is another story.

Lesbron James with boss

After taking a major leap last season, Antetokounmpo has somehow improved once again this season and has led the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record in the NBA. He has been leading the pack all season and it will take an unreal stretch from James to truly challenge him.

But as James said, this is all about the team and their success. The Lakers winning is the most important thing to him and coincidentally, that would continue to help his own case. James may or may not bring home his fifth award, but his performance has been a sight to behold regardless.

Lesbron James hands

Lakers’ LeBron James driven to be the best in the world, not by MVP award
Lesbron James and opponent

LeBron James was named the NBA’s MVP four times through his first 16 seasons in the league; however, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar claims he never set out to acquire a pile of Maurice Podoloff Trophies.

“It’s never motivated me,” James said Thursday on the eve of the Lakers’ matchup with reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. “Regular-season MVP has never motivated me. To be the best — to be the best to ever play the game has motivated me and has resulted in me being able to be league MVP a couple times.

“But I’ve never gone into the season saying, ‘OK, league MVP is what I want to be.’ I’ve gone into the season saying, ‘OK, I want to be the MVP of this team; I want to be the best player in the world,’ and how I approach my game every day, how I take care of my body every day has resulted in that [award].”

Lesbron James speaks

James’ four MVPs ties him with Wilt Chamberlain for fourth in league history, trailing Michael Jordan and Bill Russell (five) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six).

Should James, 35, win the award this season, he would become the oldest league MVP since Karl Malone in 1998-99. He is averaging 25.4 points, a league-leading 10.7 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game in his 17th season. If it was up to his Lakers brethren, the “L-e-B …” on his name would already be engraved on this season’s trophy.

Lesbron james

“The body of work he’s put forth for our team I don’t really think it compares to anybody else,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “A lot of great performances throughout the year with other players, so I don’t want to take anything away from anyone else, but it’s pretty unbelievable what he does. What he means to us on both sides of the ball, defensive IQ and the way he impacts the game with his strength, athleticism, scoring the way he does, but also leading the league in assists. And the most important stat is how much we’re winning.

“So, to me, it’s his.”

To call Antetokounmpo’s season great is an understatement by any standard. He’s averaging a career-best 29.6 points on 54.8% shooting, a career-best 13.8 rebounds (fourth in the league) and 5.8 assists.

And as impressive as the Western Conference-leading Lakers (47-13) have been, the Bucks (53-9) have been the best in the league.

lesbron james

Should Antetokounmpo win the award again, he would be the first back-to-back recipient since Golden State’s Stephen Curry in 2014-15 and 2015-16.

Lakers forward Anthony Davis says James’ on-off numbers show his true value. There is a plus-11.4-point differential when James is playing for the Lakers versus when he’s on the bench, according to the website Cleaning the Glass.

“You guys see when LeBron’s off the floor, how our team operates,” Davis said. “We kind of struggle a little bit with him off the floor. And I think it’s about who is most valuable to their team. And for me, just being around it this whole season, my vote goes to LeBron.”

Vogel said all the intangibles that James brings to the franchise push his candidacy over the top, particularly his leadership ability.

When James was asked to describe how he knows he’s on track to achieve his stated goal of becoming the best player in the world, he also pointed to leadership.

Lesbron James

“I think it’s the games that I play, leadership, how my teammates feed off my presence and feed off my word. It’s so much more than, for me, being the best player in the world than just going out and doing it on the floor,” James said. “I think leadership has a lot to do with it. Having a command. Holding yourself accountable. Allowing others to hold you accountable as well. So I have a lot of tiers to trying to be the best player in the world. It’s not just about the basketball side.”

Being held accountable includes taking guff from his teammates on occasion as well.

“He made a comment the other day during the game that he’s a machine. He don’t like coming out of games because he’s a robot. Soon as he said that, the next play he had the little ‘Shaqtin’ A Fool’ thing,” Davis said, referring to when James dribbled the ball inbounds instead of passing it late in the Lakers’ win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday, resulting in a turnover.

lesbron james

“That was a little malfunction right there. Yeah, but he does the things necessary to give himself the title of being the best in the world.”

When asked to describe the challenge of stopping Antetokounmpo, James pointed to the structure of the team around him.

“I think what a lot of people are misunderstanding about how great Giannis is, is how they put that team together,” James said. “They put that team together around him that fits his attributes perfectly. It allows him to get space because they keep so many shooters out on the floor at the same time. It allows him to get downhill because you have to stop him at the point of attack and you also have to get out to sharpshooters.”

lesbron James & Zhuri

Antetokounmpo looked like a sharpshooter himself in the Bucks’ 111-104 victory over the Lakers on Dec. 19, as he shot 5-for-8 from 3. Vogel said his team will have to respect Antetokounmpo on the perimeter Friday.

“It’s pretty much kind of, ‘Put your hand up,'” Vogel said. “That’s kind of a soft suggestion. If a guy’s on the other team, shooting the ball, maybe put your hand up.”

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