LA Lakers star LeBron James has questioned the voting behind the NBA’s MVP accolade, saying that he was “p*ssed off” after being pipped to the award by Milwaukee Bucks center Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Greek star Antetokounmpo, 25, scooped the award for the second successive season on Friday, also becoming only the third player in NBA history to win the most prestigious individual honor and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season.
Lakers star James – a four-time recipient of the MVP award – had to settle for second, 209 points behind Antetokounmpo, but he clearly had issues with the voting.
“[It] p*ssed me off. That’s my true answer. It p*ssed me off, because out of 101 votes, I got 16 first-place votes. That’s what p*ssed me off more than anything,” the 35-year-old said after helping the Lakers to a 126-114 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
“You know, [I’m] not saying that the winner wasn’t deserving of the MVP. But that p*ssed me off. And I finished second a lot in my career, either from a championship, and now four times as an MVP.”
James, who is a three-time NBA Finals winner but has also lost on six occasions in the NBA showpiece, further made his anger clear to his more than 47 million Twitter followers, sarcastically writing: “16 out of 101 (votes)! Ok cool! I got y’all.”
🤣🤣16 out of 101 🗳! Ok cool! I got y’all.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 19, 2020
The MVP award is seen as being open to broad interpretation over its criteria and is decided by a panel of 100 media members and a single fan vote.
James appeared to question the competence of the panel after his snub, saying: “I don’t know how much we are really watching the game.
“I’m not going to sit up here and talk about what the criteria should be or what it is. It’s changed over the years since I’ve gotten into the league.
“Sometimes it’s the best player on the best team. Sometimes it’s the guy with the best season statistically.
“Sometimes… I mean, you don’t know. You don’t know. But you know, Giannis had a hell of a season, I can definitely say that.”
James is bidding to win a fourth NBA Championship overall but first with the Lakers – after picking up back-to-back titles with the Miami Heat and one with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I never came into this league to be MVP or to be a champion,” James added.
“I’ve always just wanted to get better and better every single day, and those things will take care of itself. But some things are just out of my hands and some things you can’t control. But it p*ssed me off.”
After the NBA announced the award on Friday debate inevitably raged online, with former pro-turned-analyst Nick Bahe arguing that voters must live “on another planet” if they think anyone other than James deserved the accolade.
“The word ‘valuable’ makes us go cross-eyed and out-think ourselves,” Bohe said.
“All I know is LeBron James is still the best player on the planet. If you think Giannis is the best, I don’t know what planet you’re on. But on this planet, Lebron James is still the best player.”
Antetokounmpo and the Bucks were dumped out of the playoffs at the Eastern Conference semifinal stage by Miami, but sports host Chris Broussard emphasized that their early exit compared to the Lakers should have no bearing on the award.
“Giannis’s playoff woes cause many to say he shouldn’t be MVP,” Broussard observed, pointing out that James and Michael Jordan had been among the greats of the game to suffer the same fate in the deciders.
“Hogwash. MVP is a regular-season award. Many former MVPs have experienced disappointing post-seasons the same year… like Giannis, that made them no less deserving.”
James registered15 points and 12 assists in the Lakers’ series opener against the Nuggets on Friday night in the NBA bubble at Disney World in Orlando. Game 2 takes place on Sunday.