There is no disputing the MVP this season in the NBA, the King has finally been crowned. If there was ever any doubt that LeBron James is one of the most dominant players in the game today those were put to rest this season.
While many have built the case for James all season long, and many more are reigning praise down upon the young phenom after this announcement – many who do a far better job than I can in this area – I will say that James is deserving because of what he has accomplished. And that accomplishment, quite simply, is that he has improved the game on the whole, in every aspect, and that is something the Most Valuable Player in a major sports league should accomplish.
He has improved his team dramatically, because if anyone told you that Mo Williams was the missing piece in Cleveland before the season started they would likely get laughed out of whatever building they were standing in (bus shelter, wooded area…well you get the picture!). LBJ, or King James, or whatever you want to call him has elevated the play of his entire team while elevating team morale as well. There have been dominant players, such as Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, who have brought out a combination of both fear and respect from their teammates, leading to overall team success. James however has brought out camaraderie. On the court you can see it in the way they encourage themselves and how they play together.
Cleveland nearly tied a home record set by the 1986 Boston Celtics team with a far more impressive lineup. One player alone can make a big difference in a sport like basketball sure, but not a change this drastic. He needs help to reach a 39-2 home record, and James went out and got the necessary change out of his teammates himself this season. As a player, James is a motivating factor for his teammates.
LeBron James has also proven statistically that he is one of the best this season, but by providing his results in one of the most highly entertaining manners it helps set him apart. He finished second in points-per-game (28.4) overall this season and so far has carried that well into the playoffs, leading all scorers after the First Round with 32.0 ppg. He lead his team in total points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks, which apparently only three others have done since 1974. And he finished in the Top 25 in the Association in assists, rebounds, steals and blocks on the year. While his offence was always there the improvement on his defence really caught the eye of onlookers.
But what’s amazing is that he doesn’t just get the job done, he does so while delivering a level of emotion and ferocity rivaled by few others around the Association. This man is no robot, yet ridiculous spectacular block after ridiculous spectacular block and precise shooting may lead one to believe otherwise. The term ‘freak’ comes to mind at times while watching James. Combined with the knowledge that this ultimate competitor IS there for his team, and not just using his tremendous skillset to intimidate them to play well, it’s so hard to dislike what this man brings to the Floor. In the boxscores James is one of the best statistically in the NBA.
And lastly he has become an iconic image of the game. His powder toss at the start of the game has become a highly anticipated tradition. His crossover to acting has surpassed many superstar athletes who have tried the same (not all though, I’m sorry but Peyton Manning really raised the bar on SNL!). In his sixth season his branding is reaching a level where it seems destined to rival Jordan’s, and his name is definitely reaching that level of familiarity. In one of his early commercials he said he wasn’t the next MJ but the first LeBron. That statement certainly holds true.
I’m beginning to wonder if James is on course to Karl Malone (if you will) a number of others superstars; that is to deny excellent players in their own regard the MVP due to his level of play, like the way Jordan denied Malone oh so many times. While I don’t think it will be that bad, as I’m sure Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and possibly Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant will get their chance at some point as well, I don’t see this being the only MVP in James’ career. Unlike Kobe this man is loved, and as a result he will be rewarded for his amazing ability unlike Bryant
LeBron James is the rightful winner of the 2008/2009 NBA MVP. Looking around its hard to detract from his accomplishment. Right now its his time, hail to the King!
NBA taps LeBron, 24, as MVP (ESPN)