HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — Miami Heat forward LeBron James joined an elite group today as he wins his third KIA Most Valuable Player Award, becoming just the eighth player in league history to win that many or more.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone, all Hall of Famers, are the seven players to accomplish the feat before James.
Abdul-Jabbar owns six MVP trophies, Jordan and Russell five each and Chamberlain four. They are the only players with more trophies than James.
This is the third MVP trophy in the last four seasons for James, who won it as a Cleveland Cavalier in 2009 and 2010.
James beat out Thunder swingman Kevin Durant and Clippers guard Chris Paul to claim the top spot, snagging 85 of a possible 121 fist place votes and 1,074 points. Durant garnered 24 first place votes, he was the only other player to hit double digits, while Paul earned six.
For the third consecutive season, the NBA and Kia Motors America gave fans the opportunity to submit their votes by ranking their top five choices through a dedicated Web page on NBA.com. The fan vote counted as one vote and was compiled with the 120 media votes to determine the winner.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (two first-place votes) and Spurs point guard Tony Parker (4) rounded out the top five in the voting.
Of course, another Maurice Podoloff trophy is just one piece of hardware James is hunting this season.
He ended his acceptance speech this afternoon in Miami with these words, “I want that championship. That’s all that matters to me.”
The Heat remain on that path, facing the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal showdown Sunday afternoon in Miami. And they’ll need another (playoff) MVP-caliber effort from James to grab that Larry O’Brien trophy.
James played at a otherwordly level during the regular season, averaging 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists — making him only the fourth player with those totals in at least two different seasons, joining Oscar Robertson (five times), John Havlicek (twice) and Bird (twice). He shot a ridiculous 53 percent from the floor and also averaged 1.9 steals.
James ranks, in this estimation, as the league’s most accomplished player on both ends of the floor. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra calls him “1-through-5,” for his ability to guard all five positions on the defensive end.
James said this latest honor only adds fuel to the fire that was already raging in him.
“It didn’t take another MVP trophy for me to want an NBA championship,” he said. “I’d give all three (MVPs) back if I could win a championship.”