The most valuable player basketball fans saw this year in the NBA was LeBron James and it was not even close. Though Kobe Bryant was maybe a better all around player than James, no player was more valuable to their team. Basketball most valuable players are typically those with great individual statistics and superb team records – James had both.
We’ve seen Lebron James light up electronic basketball scoreboards across the country, now let’s hear a little bit more about him.
The top NBA MVP vote getter, Lebron James took his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, on a fantastic run through the regular season in 2008-2009. After losing in the NBA Finals in 2007, the Cavaliers had a disappointing season the following year when the Celtics swept them out of the Eastern Conference Finals. So James got even better over the summer when he played for the Olympic team – a scary thought for the rest of the league considering he was one of the top players the year before. The results: the Cavaliers had the best record in the league, winning an astonishing 66 out of 82 games. Even more remarkable, the Cavs posted a 39-2 win record at home. The bad news was that the two teams that beat them there, the Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers, were also the two teams that advanced further than the Cavs in the playoffs when they met in the finals.
There are others who may be considered NBA most valuable players but no one did as much for their team as Lebron James. Playing with a team that without him would struggle against the local high school team, James turned them into a powerhouse. He averaged 28 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists to be the deciding factor in every win for the Cavs. As an example, the Cavs top free agent signing two years ago was Anderson Varejao, who averaged just under 7 points per game. Their next two leading scorers are recycled guards Mo Williams and Delonte West, who average around 12 points per game. James was the team and the team was good despite its other players.
James has been great since he entered the league and will win the most valuable player basketball award many more times in his career. Almost every news story when James was announced as MVP reported that this was “his first” time winning the award. Unless something drastic happens, this 24 year old will dominate the league for years to come, even though it may be in a different uniform. James is a free agent at the end of the 2010 season and every team in the league will be interested in giving up their entire team to try to get James. For now, the Cavaliers have brought in Shaquille O’Neal to complement James. A strange and expensive $20 million move considering they now have a 34-year-old center backed up by another 34-year-old center.
Regardless of who plays around him, James will continue to improve. In his fifth year in the league and at the age of 24, James already has 13,000 points in the league, a trip to the Finals and his first MVP award.